MSNBC announced Wednesday that the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate will be moderated by four women, marking only the second time a major televised political debate has had an all-female panel asking questions.
The moderators set for the Nov. 20 event, which is being co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, are MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker and the Post’s White House reporter Ashley Parker.
Welker tweeted that she was “so honored” to take on the role.
In 2016, “PBS NewsHour” co-anchors Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill made history as the first all-female panel to moderate a major debate. Before then, some debates had a woman as the sole moderator, including CNN’s Candy Crowley in 2012 and ABC News’ Carole Simpson 20 years before that.
In May, the Democratic National Committee set forth new rules requiring at least one woman and one person of color, which in some instances can be the same person, to moderate at each of its 2020 presidential primary debates.
That decision came after decades of a severe lack of diversity among moderators at presidential debates of both parties. In June, an analysis by Time’s Up ― a group formed amid the Me Too movement ― found that among 132 primary debates in presidential races from 1996 through 2016, 44% had zero female moderators and only 27% had at least one person of color moderating.
It’s important to have diverse voices pressing candidates on issues of racism, sexism and other bigotry just as it’s important to have diverse candidates. The Democratic debate stage has enough women this election cycle that the female candidates feel free to go after each other.
Another thing to keep an eye out for with an all-female panel: potentially more questions about abortion. Despite the current wave of anti-abortion legislation, the fourth Democratic debate this month was the first one this election cycle in which the candidates were pressed to say how they would approach reproductive health from the Oval Office.