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.”