Univision President Randy Falco wrote a letter that put the Commission on Presidential Debates on blast for their vanillacentric and major network centric selections of debate moderators.
"This November more than 20 million Hispanics could play a critical role in electing the new President of the United States and it is important that they make an informed decision," Falco wrote. "The debates announced yesterday presented an ideal opportunity to tap one of the two best journalists in the business who have a broad understanding of the domestic and international issues facing this country, understand the Hispanic community better than anyone else and are fully bilingual: Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas."
As the fastest growing minority group that will make up by 2050 a third of the population of the United States, the 2012 presidential candidates should have to answer questions posed by Latino journalists in a debate setting just as they needed to answer questions from African-American journalists.
The importance of having POC journalists is magnified when one of the presidential candidates has been routinely ducking non-white journalists on a regular basis.
Falco also offered in his letter to the Commission to create a Latino forum for both presidential candidates to participate in.
"Since you have already made your decision on moderators for the debates and have neglected to have someone speak credibly to the concerns of Hispanics in America, Univision would be willing to create a forum for the presidential candidates to address this sector of our society."Janet Brown, the Debate Commission's executive director tried to deflect the justified criticism coming their way about the glaring omission of journalists of color. In addition to stating the Commission was not creating the requested forum, she wrote this in response to Falco.
"We recognize that there are many organizations and individuals who wish they had been included in our moderator selection. Debate arithmetic means that it is impossible to accommodate all of them. However, we strongly believe that the four journalists we have named see their assignment as representing all Americans in their choice of topics and questions. The general election debates have always focused on issues of national interest that affect all citizens, including Univision’s audience. We have met with Univision about joint efforts to get the largest number of people possible engaged in discussing and learning from the debates, and remain interested in working with you toward that goal."
Yeah, right. This is a cop-out statement and a recognition the Commission fracked up by not adding journalists of color for these debates. It also doesn't address the valid point that Falco made that the four journalists chosen as moderators don't have experience or cultural fluency with the issues the Latino community faces.
It's also arrogant and insulting of Ms. Brown or the commission to presume that non-white journalists aren't capable of asking debate questions that would appeal to all American citizens, since it has been effortlessly done by Carole Simpson in the 1992 presidential debate and Gwen Ifill most recently in the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential ones. .
Debate Commission leadership, it's past time for you to recognize the reality that the 'all citizens' part of that statement Ms. Brown crafted also includes non-white Americans.