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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Calls Escalate for Presidential Debate Aimed at Hispanics and People of Color


The calls for an additional presidential debate moderated by (and aimed at) minorities escalated on Friday.

Ralph B. Everett, the chief executive of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and analysis center that focuses on the socioeconomic status of blacks and other minorities, sent a letter to Janet H. Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates. He urged her to reconsider the commission's rejection of a plea by Univision to stage a presidential debate moderated by its own Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena, or another host of Hispanic origin.

“It has long been the practice of the television industry to avoid placing people of color in front of the camera ,” Mr. Everett wrote. He said he hoped the commission would embrace Univision's proposal “by adding more debates to the calendar.”

On Wednesday evening Mr. Ramos used the nightly Univision newscast to invite President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to participate in a “forum” on the Spanish-language network.

“We ask it to reconsider its decision to deny Univision's request for a forum to be hosted by two of the nation's most respected journalists,” Mr. Everett said in his letter.

Ms. Brown was not immediately available to comment on the letter.

A large portion of Hispanic viewers gets its news exclusively from Spanish language television and radio. Mr. Everett ticked off data points in his letter as evidence that minorities need the candidates to address issues of pressing importance to them. While the nation's overall employment rate was 8.3 percent in July, the rates for African Americans and Hispanics was 14.1 percent and 10.3 percent, re spectively.