Tavis Smiley View On Presidential Debates

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“It is apparently easier for a person of color to be President of the United  States of America than it is for a journalist of color to be selected to  moderate a presidential debate.

The four journalists who have been selected to navigate the upcoming debates  are more than capable. My issue is not with them, per se, rather with a  selection process that at best, periodically trades and swaps a journalist of  color for a woman — or at worst, ignores journalists of color all  together.  To be clear, this is not about my personal interest in wanting  to moderate a presidential debate. One, I already have (The All-American  Presidential Forums on PBS); and two, my critical commentary about the  mediocrity of both campaigns clearly disqualifies me from being on stage.

The Obama and Romney campaigns could have and should have INSISTED on at  least one journalist of color to moderate one of these debates. In truth,  the campaigns really call the shots on these decisions, not the presidential  debate commission.  So we are left to assume that neither side put up a  fight demanding that a journalist of color be chosen. Of course, I’d love for  either campaign to prove me wrong about this assumption. I just don’t think they  can.

In the most multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-ethnic America ever, the  absence of a journalist of color on the stage moderating one of these debates is  shameful and ought to be an embarrassment to the nation.  Not to mention  the issues in this campaign that disproportionately impact  Americans of  color: think poverty, unemployment, immigration, education reform, social  security and, yes, gun violence.

I, for one, have had it with this exclusionary nonsense.  So voters are  supposed to accept that a person of color is qualified enough to be the leader  of the free world, but not qualified enough to ask important and incisive  questions?

We’re better than this. It’s time to set a new standard”.

Tavis Smiley

 

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