Com­plaining about the mod­er­a­tors of the pres­i­den­tial debates is a time-​​honored tra­di­tion of the elec­tion season. Usu­ally, the com­plaints wait until the mod­er­a­tors have actu­ally asked a question.

Not this year. Monday’s announce­ment of this fall’s mod­er­a­tors — Jim Lehrer and Bob Schi­effer will pre­side over two pres­i­den­tial debates; CNN’s Candy Crowley over a third, town-​​hall style debate; and ABC’s Martha Rad­datz will mod­erate the vice-​​presidential debate — exposed the gulf between a new media envi­ron­ment moving at hyper­speed and the secre­tive Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial Debates, which is steeped in the tra­di­tions of polit­ical stage­craft from prior decades.

Alan Schroeder, a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity pro­fessor who has written books about pres­i­den­tial debates, said the four mod­er­a­tors were “pretty main­stream” and noted the com­plaints about a lack of diver­sity this year. Uni­vi­sion, the Spanish lan­guage broad­casting giant, used its nightly news­cast on Wednesday to draw atten­tion to the lack of bilin­gual mod­er­a­tors and call for a can­di­date forum on its net­work. The National Asso­ci­a­tion of Black Jour­nal­ists on Friday bemoaned the lack of black mod­er­a­tors as “unacceptable.”

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