Black journalists protest debate exclusion

In this Oct. 15, 2008 photo, moderator Bob Schieffer smiles at the start of a presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Schieffer has been selected as a moderator this year, too. Black journalists have complained that moderator selection this year lacks diversity. /AP Photo/Seth Wenig

NEW YORK — A group of Black journalists says it is disappointed in the lack of ethnic diversity among the people chosen to moderate presidential debates.

The National Association of Black Journalists said Friday that the Commission on Presidential Debates needs to stop treating Black reporters and other minority journalists as if they were unqualified, invisible or both. The group said diversity was important in a year in which as much as a quarter of the electorate is expected to be non-White.

Candy Crowley of CNN, Jim Lehrer of PBS and Bob Schieffer of CBS News were selected to moderate the three debates between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney this fall. Martha Raddatz of ABC News will moderate the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan.

A commission representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Earlier this week, the president of the Spanish-speaking television network Univision criticized the lack of Latino representation among the moderators and suggested a separate forum hosted by two Univision personalities.

In response, the commission noted that a number of groups and individuals wanted to be included, but it was impossible to accommodate everyone. The commission said that the journalists selected see their assignment as representing all Americans.

— Associated Press