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Maynard Institute: Gwen Ifill Wins in Candidates’ Debate

From: Maynard Institute:

Co-Moderator Asks Democrats About White People

Gwen Ifill came to slay,” Julia Craven wrote Friday for the Huffington Post.

“At Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Ifill, a veteran PBS journalist, flipped the typical narrative of race in the U.S. on Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a vital question about what it means to be white in America.

” ‘Let me turn this on its head, because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color,’ Ifill began, in all her black girl glory. ‘I want to talk about white people, OK?

” ‘So many people will be surprised to find out that we are sitting in one of the most racially polarized metropolitan areas in the country,’ Ifill continued, after reassuring the audience and the candidates that she really did want to talk about white people.

” ‘By the middle of this century, the nation is going to be majority non-white. Our public schools are already there. If working-class white Americans are about to be outnumbered, are already underemployed in many cases, and one study found they are dying sooner, don’t they have a reason to be resentful?’

“Wow. Ifill, who made history with co-anchor Judy Woodruff as the first all-female team to host a major presidential debate, took an important step in advancing mainstream narratives on race and racism. As America becomes less white, many white people are becoming more conservative on race relations. This may explain some of Donald Trump’s appeal to white middle-class voters.

“Alas, the candidates’ responses were typical, reeking of ‘all lives matter’ without deeply engaging the question. . . .”

As noted during the debate, the event represented the first time the majority of those on the debate stage were women. Ifill, Woodruff and Clinton were there, with Sanders the only man.

Ta-Nehisi CoatesIn another development, Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and Atlantic magazine national correspondent, told readers that his statement Wednesday morning on “Democracy Now!” that he would vote for Sanders should not be read as an endorsement.

It is important to say this not just as a writer, but as a black writer,” Coates wrote later Wednesday. “Too often individuals are appointed to speak for black people. I don’t want any part of it. Black voters deserve to be addressed in all of their beautiful and wonderful complications, not through the lens of unelected ‘thought-leaders.’ I was asked a question. I tried to answer it honestly. And that’s really all I have.”

Brian Stelter reported Friday for CNNMoney.com, “About 3.9 million viewers tuned in to the debate on PBS, according to Nielsen ratings data. Around 4.1 million viewers watched on CNN.

“The unusual two-channel combination clearly helped boost the overall audience for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ face-off.

“MSNBC’s Democratic debate with the two candidates averaged 4.5 million viewers at the same time last week.

“Six months after the first debate of the 2016 primary calendar, it is clear that there is some measure of ‘debate fatigue,’ more so on the Democratic side than on the Republican side. . . .”

Ifill’s co-moderating would mark “the first time a woman of color will moderate a presidential debate since Carole Simpson did so in 1992,” Ameé Latour noted Thursday for bustle.com.

“Since that 1992 debate, no person of color had served as moderator of a presidential debate up through October 2015. In January 2016, Lester Holt moderated a Democratic debate, marking a step in the right direction.

“The lack of diversity among debate moderators was a subject of controversy in the 2012 election cycle. In 2012, the National Association of Black Journalists publicly decried the lack of Latino and black moderators, and the Spanish-speaking network Univision issued strong protests. . . .”

On Thursday, the presidents of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a statement asking news organizations “to diversify their reporting and analysis teams to reflect those states and the campaign to come.”

“African American and Hispanic voters will play a major role in deciding who our next president will be. It is important that media outlets have journalists of color directly involved in this election cycle to ensure balanced reporting,” Sarah Glover, NABJ president, said in the release.

“Together, African Americans and Hispanics make up 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s QuickFacts 2014 data. Media outlets should be aggressive about ensuring their staffs are diverse and reflective of the communities they serve.”

Mekahlo Medina, NAHJ president, said, “It is important that news organizations are not only reflective of the communities they are covering, but have journalists that best [understand] those communities. Latinos and African Americans should not be reported on as an abstract block. News organizations should utilize their growing diverse staffs for accurate and fair coverage.”

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