2:15pm August 16, 2012

April Ryan? Roland? No Black or Latino Presidential Debate Moderators


NAACP leaders are commenting on the lack of diversity in Presidential debate moderators.  At a time when recent Census data shows that people of color are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., there will be zero people of color who will moderate either a presidential or vice presidential debate this year.

The four debates in October will be moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, CBS’ Bob Schieffer, ABC’s Martha Raddatz and, once again, PBS’ Jim Lehrer.

The debate dates and times, as compiled by Mediaite, are listed at bottom.

The moderators are selected every four years by the Commission on Presidential Debates.  This year when issues such as unemployment, immigration and poverty are in the news, none of the moderators are persons of color, though notably there are two women.

The choice of debate moderators is not irrelevant. Often minority journalists are likely to put attention on issues that are marginalized or completely ignored in the mainstream media.  These include the education achievement gap, minimum wage, over incarceration and criminal justice issues.  Many minority journalists could have been considered including AURN’s April Ryan and CNN’s Roland Martin.

NAACP President Ben Jealous commented on the lack of diversity in a press release.

“The lack of diversity among this year’s debate moderators is representative of the overall lack of diversity in news media. Whether it’s as primetime news anchors, debate moderators, or commentators on the influential Sunday morning political talk shows, people of color – and African Americans specifically – are strikingly underrepresented,” Jealous said.

NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vic Bulluck added, “While we congratulate the Commission on Presidential Debates for including two women moderators for this year’s debates, it is troubling that no African Americans or journalists of color were included to lead the conversation.”

“It is critical that during these important conversations about the future of our nation the concerns of communities of color are reflected in the questions posed to the candidates. We hope that this year’s moderators will acknowledge the pivotal role African Americans will play on November 6th and push the candidates to address key issues that resonate with our community like the future of public education, racial profiling, and improved employment opportunities,” Bulluck added.


First presidential debate (domestic policy)

Wednesday, October 3
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour
University of Denver, Denver, CO

Vice presidential debate
Thursday, October 11
Moderator: Martha Raddatz, ABC News
Centre College, Danville, KY

Second presidential debate (town meeting format)
Tuesday, October 16
Moderator: Candy Crowley, CNN and Anchor, State of the Union
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Third presidential debate (foreign policy)
Monday, October 22
Moderator: Bob Schieffer, CBS News and Moderator, Face the Nation
Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL

LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus.  She can be heard every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Earl Ingram Show as well as on WPFW 89.3 every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Burke is a former employee of USAToday.com and ABC News.  You can e-mail her at LBurke007@gmail.com follow her on twitter @Crewof42.


About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist who analyses politics and justice reform. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke has also been a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears weekly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin. She has also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. She is also a contributing writer for NBCNews.com and TheRoot.com Ms. Burke has also authored three books of photography including two on President Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency and one with Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee. Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. Instagram: LVB325.



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