McCain’s “It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left” line just got a very audible chuckle from the famously staid Lehrer. A deviation from Lehrer’s play-it-“absolutely straight” debate-moderation approach? Well done, Senator!

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.