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For debate, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren agree on Jon Keller

Posted by Mark Leccese  June 6, 2012 11:12 AM

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Republican Sen. Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren yesterday agreed on only two things in their ongoing when-and-where-and-how-many-debates rumpus: there will be four televised debates and one debate will be on WBZ-TV, moderated by the station’s long-time political analyst Jon Keller.

No surprise there. Keller is the leading political analyst and reporter on Boston TV, known for being sharp, tough and fair. (Full disclosure: Jon and I worked together at the old Tab Newspapers in the 1980s.) He’s proven his skills as a debate moderator in some of the most important political debates of the past decade, including the 2010 Senate race, the 2008 gubernatorial race, and the 2009 Boston mayoral debate.

As for further debates — well, that’s still a point of contention between the candidate’s campaigns. Noah Bierman of the Globe reported in this morning’s paper (subscription required) that Brown and Warren “are at loggerheads over the rest of the schedule, a sign of increasing acrimony in a race that could help determine control of the Senate.”

Brown has said he wants three or four debates, but two of those would be low-profile radio appearances he has accepted. Added to those will be the two primetime television debates — one on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) with Jon Keller, and another sponsored by a consortium of Springfield media outlets.

Warren, too, has accepted the WBZ and Springfield television face-offs, but has also said she will participate in two more as-yet-undetermined televised debates. She has not agreed to the two radio debates.

Jim Barnett, Brown’s campaign manager, was noncommittal Tuesday when asked whether the senator would agree to additional televised debates with his Democratic challenger.

“We’ll see how it goes,’’ Barnett said. “Everything else is still under consideration.’’

The proposed hosts of the radio debates, unlike Keller, are problematic. Brown has accepted invitations to appear on Dan Rea’s nighttime show on WBZ Radio (1030 AM) and Jim Braude and Margery Eagan’s morning show on WTTK (96.9 FM).

According to Hillary Chabot in this morning's Herald, Brown and “a beleaguered Elizabeth Warren … didn’t comment on two radio forums that Brown signed on to earlier this week.”

Rea is a vocal and sometimes strident conservative, while Braude and Eagan are liberals -- although Braude has in the past always been a scrupulously fair and intelligent debate moderator.

Perhaps the candidates will agree to debate on Rea's show and on Braude and Eagan's radio show. The more debates the better. But it is a credit to Jon Keller that the two candidates quickly agreed on the WBZ-TV personality to moderate what will be an important debate.

Follow @mleccese on Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Mark Leccese, a journalism professor at Emerson College, covered Massachusetts politics, business and the arts for more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and magazine writer. He has More »

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