The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Monday that CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate one of three presidential debates this fall, which will be the first time in 20 years that a woman has done so. ABC's Martha Raddatz will moderate the vice-presidential debate, and PBS's Jim Lehrer and CBS's Bob Schieffer will moderate the two remaining presidential debates, making this the first time in the commission's history that the moderators will be split evenly between male and female journalists.
The commission has been under public scrutiny lately over the fact that only one woman - Carole Simpson in 1992 - has moderated a presidential debate since the commission took control of the debates over a quarter-century ago.
The increased attention given to this issue was largely due to three young women - Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel - who started a Change.orgpetition calling for the commission to include another woman moderator this election season. Their petition gained over 180,000 signatures and national attention with the help of several US lawmakers and women's organizations who joined forces to inject this subject into the national conversation.
"Women were being overlooked, and while it might not have been an active prejudice, it was definitely there," Axelrod told NPR's All Things Considered on Monday. "So, the fact that now we're closing that gap of 20 years, that is what I'm excited that a woman will bring, the equal representation."
Media Resources: Reuters 8/13/12; LA Times 8/13/12; NPR 8/13/12; SF Gate 8/13/12