Today The Takeaway spoke with Carole Simpson, the first woman and first minority to solely moderate a presidential debate. Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, wrote to respond to some of Carole’s comments.
In our interview, Carole said:
“I did the second presidential debate. But after the first presidential debate, there was a lot of criticism because there were all white men: the moderator, the panelists and the candidates. It was a sea of white men on the television screen. And I think the Bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates was criticized for not having any minorities or women represented. So, when it came time for the second presidential debate, I think they thought, ‘OK, we’ll go for a two-fer. We’ll get Carole Simpson, and she’ll be a minority and she’ll be a woman, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone. So I think that was part of it.”
Janet Brown responded to refute some of Carole’s comments. Brown said:
“The panel for the first debate [in 1992] included Ann Compton, Carole’s ABC colleague. Further, all moderators and panelists were named before the debates started, not in response to anything that happened in a prior debate. We held four debates in eight days that year; it would have been impossible to name moderators in between debates, not to mention disrespectful of their need for preparation time.”
In an interview with The Takeaway, when asked why no woman had moderated a presidential debate since 1992, Brown said:
“The moderator, needless to say, needs to be comfortable with the format that is chosen. And there are, as may surprise your audience, there are a lot of pressures to doing this job. It is sometimes convenient for people who are asked, and it is sometimes not convenient, or not something that they choose to do.”