The dates, venues and moderators have now been set for the three October presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, and the one October vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. Moderators will include Jim Lehrer, host of PBS’ NewsHour (first presidential debate, Oct. 3); ABC News chief foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz (vice presidential debate, Oct. 11); CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley (second presidential debate, Oct. 16); and Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’ Face the Nation (third and final presidential debate, Oct. 22).
Crowley becomes the first woman to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate in 20 years. A large petition drive had been started by a group of teenagers demanding that a woman be allowed to host a debate, though it is unclear if the decision to name Crowley as moderator was based on this.
Despite this advance, however, there are still some obvious omissions among the moderators in terms of race, and today the NAACP released statements drawing attention to that fact.
According to NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, “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.”
Vic Bulluck, NAACP Executive Director of the Hollywood Bureau, said, “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 6 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.”