"Jim Lehrer is a friend of mine," Rather told HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. "I try very hard not to be critical of anyone else...but this was not one of his better nights."
Rather said Lehrer's performance -- widely panned -- has as much to do with the format of the debate as anything else.
"Keep in mind the format is dictated in the end by the parties and by the candidates," he said. "They also approve the moderator. But Jim Lehrer last night, he didn't keep it on time. They ran over. And Romney, I think to his credit, backed him up, backed him down, and practically ran him out of the hall. Credit to Romney for doing that but you can raise questions whether Jim should've let that happen."
"It would've been nice to see the moderator kicking the candidates around rather than vice versa," Shihab-Eldin added.
Rather also said he would have liked to see tougher questions, but predicted Lehrer would respond, "My instructions were not to do that. My instructions were to keep it moving."