As he prepares for Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate, moderator Neil Cavuto says he’s looking to an unexpected role model: Sgt. Joe Friday.
Friday, the straighter-than-six-o’clock detective on the TV series Dragnet, famously implored interrogation subjects to relate “Just the facts, ma’am.”
“The best debates are the debates where the moderators don’t make themselves the show,” Cavuto said Monday in a phone interview. “They let the candidates make themselves the show. I’m a fairly big guy, but I want to make myself as invisible as possible.”
Cavuto, an anchor at Fox Business Network and executive at Fox News, said he’ll avoid “snide questions.” Cavuto wouldn’t divulge what questions he’ll ask, but he said gun control, immigration policy and stock market volatility are obvious topics.
While Cavuto said he’s striving for a bland performance, he acknowledged that he might have to step in when candidates keep speaking after they’ve exhausted their allotted time. (During December’s debate on CNN, moderator Wolf Blitzer cut off time-clock scofflaw Sen. Ted Cruz.)
“It’s probably the most problematic issue I have to deal with,” Cavuto said. “The closer we get to some of these caucuses and primaries, the more desperate some of these candidates get.”
Cavuto said he’ll remind the candidates that they’ve agreed to limit their responses to 90 seconds, something Blitzer pointed out when Cruz ignored the time clock.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Cavuto said. “If I come across looking as the jerk – which isn’t that hard for me to do — then so be it.”
The debate from Charleston, South Carolina, airs on Fox Business Network. Cavuto and Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo are the moderators.