The host of PBS’s Washington Week was shut out of the presidential debates. Ifill admits to being “disappointed”; other reports say that she is “livid.”
Her resume includes two unmemorable performances in the last two vice presidential debates and an off-season in which she published a book on the rise of some Senator from Illinois. (In some circles that must make her more qualified.)
Ifill’s absence is part of the larger narrative about the lack of racial diversity among participants.
“It is apparently easier for a person of color to be president of the United States of America than it is for a journalist of color to be selected to moderate a presidential debate,” Tavis Smiley writes, evidently overlooking the fact that we have a president of color.
But even if we agree that racial diversity is essential, is there anyone who wouldn’t rather see Queen Latifah do it?
The better question is why, apart from ego, anyone would care to participate in this charade. Unless Jim Lehrer has a stroke on camera, no one will remember anything about the moderators.
The last time a moderator made a mark at all was 1988. But that was memorable for how stunningly Dukakis whiffed at a softball, not for the journalistic brilliance of Bernard Shaw.
The debates haven’t been anything more than joint press conferences for years. Even the “town hall” format of recent years has been made to feel staged and stale. For this go round, Fox News lobbied for a spot was denied. And the Romney camp refused to let anyone from MSNBC have a seat. Of course, it would have been better had they both been included.
We’ve already sacrificed substance for the sake of security and intellectual diversity for the sake of simplicity, so it only makes sense that racial diversity is the next to go.