Univision president and CEO Randy Falco on Wednesday sent a letter to Janet H. Brown, the Commission on Presidential Debates’ executive director, expressing “disappointment on behalf of the millions of Hispanics who do not have a voice in the upcoming presidential debates.”
Earlier this week the Commission announced Jim Lehrer of PBS, Bob Schieffer of CBS, Candy Crowley of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC News will moderate this year’s debates. All the moderators are white.
(It’s worth noting Crowley will be the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in two decades but as TPM points out “she will oversee the town-hall style debate where audience members ask the majority of the questions.”)
Univision nominated their top bilingual anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas as contenders to moderate the upcoming debates but the Commission did not select either of them.
“Since you have already made your decision on moderators for the debates and have neglected to have someone speak credibly to the concerns of Hispanics in America, Univision would be willing to create a forum,” Falco wrote in his letter.
Falco went on to lobby for an additional debate that could “speak directly to this burgeoning audience so influential to the presidential dialogue and outcome.”
The Commission rejected Univision’s offer on Tuesday and said that the current moderators “see their assignment as representing all Americans in their choice of topics and questions.”
“The lack of diversity among this year’s debate moderators is representative of the overall lack of diversity in news media,” NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement. “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.”
Former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson was the last woman to moderate a presidential debate when she presided over a 1992 discussion between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2008, PBS’ Gwen Ifill moderated the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.