Even though CNN chose three of the network’s most well-known journalists to host the Democratic debates in Detroit, females from a number of liberal advocacy groups have criticized the selection for not including a woman of color as a moderator.
To further their complaints, leaders of three organizations have started an online petition to insist that from now on, each presidential debate must have at least one black female moderator because “voters are more diverse than ever before, and this year’s primaries feature the most diverse group of candidates in modern history.”
Moderating the debates on Tuesday and Wednesday nights were CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of the weekday program The Lead, Don Lemon, anchor for CNN Tonight and Dana Bash, the network’s chief political correspondent. So there's a woman and an African-American, but that's not good enough.
The online document also notes:
Moderators hold a lot of power over how the debates unfold. They determine what questions are asked, which issues are centered, and which candidates get the most air time. Moderators are supposed to represent voters’ greatest interests and concerns, but how can they do that when they don’t represent a key group of American voters?
Today’s voter base is more than half women and more than one-third people of color. Networks have a responsibility to ensure these important debates are inclusive, relevant and actually representative of the American people. It’s ridiculous that we’re still fighting to get a Black woman or a woman of color a seat at the moderators’ table. [Italics in the original.]
In an article by Breitbart's Tony Lee,Glynda Carr, president and CEO of Higher Heights for America, argued that with Kamala Harris in the race, “the third black woman to seek the Democratic nomination" -- after Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley-Braun -- "black women are demanding our return on our voting investment and our voices be present and heard in setting the vision for our country and policies that affect black women, our families and communities."
She added: “Black women are claiming our seats, and that includes the moderator’s seat."
Meanwhile, Anna Chu -- vice president for strategy and policy at the NWLC -- emphasized that “debate moderators have an important role to play in shaping public perceptions of candidates, so including more women moderators is an important first step for the networks during these debates.”
“But to state the obvious, not all women are white,” Chu noted. “Black women and other women of color are important and influential members of the electorate as well as society at large.”
According to Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet Action: “There’s a clear representation problem when it comes to who sits at the debate moderators’ table” even though the Democratic National Committee “responded to women’s groups’ demands and committed to having a woman moderate every debate.”
She also tweeted:
In the very moment black women and women of color lawmakers are facing very real, life-endangering attacks from the White House, black women and women of color voters should have their votes and voices prioritized by the candidates, the networks and the Democratic Party.
We’ve demanded and won a woman moderator at every debate, and we can win this fight, too,
Thomas also called on ABC to include a woman of color as a moderator for the network’s September 12 and 13 presidential debates at Texas Southern University in Houston.