NBC's Kristen Welker did a surprisingly good job moderating last night's final presidential debate in Nashville. I was skeptical. I wasn't sure she could be fair and balanced, given her family's extensive ties to the Democratic Party.

Welker was familiar with the rules of engagement, and she enforced them with just the right rigidity. There were times when I thought she interrupted President Donald J. Trump a bit too often while letting challenger Joe Biden go unchecked. By comparison to Chris Wallace from Fox News, who moderated the first debate, her interruptions were tolerable.

There was a key moment, however, when Trump challenged Biden on the allegations of corruption against the Biden family when Welker redirected the questioning, and that gave Biden a chance to slip off the hook without having to answer. To her credit, Welker did pose a question to Biden about the scandal, but I wonder if she would have had Trump not raised the issue first.

Welker's questions, for the most part, seemed to follow the same old tired pattern as previous forums. Racism, climate change, and COVID-19 were familiar themes.

Welker commanded respect from the candidates early on and made clear that she was in charge. She was in control of the debate, and as a result, a whole lot of ground was covered. Even with the kill switch on the other person's mic during the two-minute answers, the candidates were able to engage and respond to each other.

Welker was not a perfect moderator, but she was the best debate moderator we've had this election cycle. Kudos to her. I hope she is selected to moderate again in four years.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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