It turns out that conservatives aren’t the only ones upset about the absence of diversity revealed in the choice of moderators for the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Tavis Smiley, a black man who has made a career out of being concerned about racial quotas, notices that the best the MSM could do was come up with a panel of pallor:
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 altogether. 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.
For once, I find myself agreeing with Tavis Smiley, although only up to a point. Yes, the panel shows a remarkable lack of diversity, but I disagree with him about the type of segregation the panel practices. As far as I can tell, the choices range from really Progressive to really, really Progressive. Ideologically, this is the least diverse panel one could ever imagine, given that each ostensibly impartial “moderator” slants politically — very strongly — to one side of the debate. If this was the Olympics, it would be like having only Chinese judges for the gymnastics or diving competitions.
I tried to leave a comment for Mr. Smiley at HuffPo, but HuffPo repeatedly rejected my attempts at commenting. I’ll therefore share with you here the comment I would have left there:
For once, Mr. Smiley, I absolutely agree with you. I recommend Larry Elder or Thomas Sowell for the role. That way, you wouldn’t simply change the uniform and bland racial color palette, you’d actually affect the monochromatic ideological spectrum. Alternatively, if you are able to get past skin color, which is an awfully limiting way to view Americans, I suggest simply picking anyone from the large conservative roster of (Fox) TV, (talk) radio, or (conservative) blogging personalities. Doing so would mean that, for the first time in years, the debates would be both interesting and meaningful for the American people. Or better yet, do away entirely with moderated debates. Let Romney and Obama — and Biden and Ryan — have a good rhetorical free-for-all, just as Lincoln and Douglas did long ago before an equally pivotal election.