Progress and Disappointment With Presidential Debate Moderator Selection

By Alex Weprin 

As we noted yesterday, the upcoming Presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will feature a female moderator for the first time in 20 years, when CNN’s Candy Crowley moderates the town hall debate in Long Island.

As Politico notes, however, the look of the debate moderators still skew heavily towards old, white establishment media figures.

“Are the debate commissioners completely out of touch with the rest of the country?” one network television source told POLITICO. “Two of the moderators – while, yes, veteran journalists – are white men in their seventies. Here we are in 2012 with an incumbent black president, a 42-year-old ‘young gun’ Republican VP nominee, and a surging Hispanic population in America, and yet there is not a single non-white moderator nor any representation of the new generation of this country. Will these moderators bring a perspective that reflects the voices and interests of the voting public, or do they just reflect that of the debate commissioners?”

“TV is so risk averse,” one political reporter told POLITICO. “It continues to recycle its longtime greats — like Lehrer and Schieffer — but, at some point, we need to open it up to a younger generation.”