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Columbia Missourian

A look at what the media reported about the first presidential debate

By Christopher Wolf
October 4, 2012 | 12:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The first presidential debate of the 2012 election season took place last night at the University of Denver's Ritchie Center. Candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama discussed issues involving taxes, jobs, health care and the economy. In case you missed the debate, the Missourian has a summary of all the major stories and headlines from last night.

Who won?

This is always the most common questioned asked and often the most important. Nearly every media outlet agreed that Romney came out on top when it was all said and done. "Republicans seemed genuinely surprised that his (Obama's) opponent, Mitt Romney, was energetic, aggressive and presidential during his first-ever general election debate," Michael D. Shear said in a New York Times recap of the debate. 

Even more Romney praise was doled out this morning by The Washington Post. The newspaper praised Romney for his confident and forceful attacks of Obama, who it said often looked "like a man who wished he were elsewhere."

Fact checking

Last night's debate was filled with the candidates discussing different numbers and facts for their tax and health care plans. The fact-checking blog politifact.com ran a piece checking the numbers Romney and Obama threw out last night. On a scale what they call the "truth-o-meter," Politifact determined Obama's statement that Romney's Medicare plan was a voucher program is "mostly true," and Obama failing to cut health care premiums was a "Promise Broken" from his 2008 campaign.

The candidates did their own fact checking on the fly as well last night. President Obama claimed he had provided assistance to students to make interest rates on student loans low. To this statement, Romney delivered what has been considered the "zinger" of the night when he said, "You're entitled, Mr. President, as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts."

A moderator in moderation

Criticism and praise was given to both candidates, but it was moderator Jim Lehrer who took a lot of heat from members of the media. Not only were his questions considered weak and overly broad, but the candidates often talked over his attempts to keep the candidates within the time limitations. Lehrer has moderated 11 debates since 1988, last night's event marking his 12th, and he previously said he would not moderate any more.

The debate last night was the first of three between the candidates before Election Day on Nov. 6. Vice presidential candidates Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will meet in Kentucky on Oct. 11 for the only debate between the two, and Obama and Romney will debate again Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Conner.