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Show Me the Women! Presidential Debates, Couric, Madame Presidents

September 19, 2008

The burning question is: has anybody noticed that only men will moderate the upcoming presidential debates? We certainly did, and in protest on August 14 the WMC launched our campaign, Show Me the Women. We directed petitioners to the Commission on Presidential Debates to include a woman and/or person of color in these important final vetting sessions of the candidates. We hold that this decision reflects badly on the Commission and the networks-given that women are more than half the population and hold particular significance in the 2008 election. When Bob Schieffer of CBS, moderator of the October 15 debate, learned of our efforts, he called to offer what he could: an opportunity to submit questions. The Women's Media Center wants to hear from you-what would you like to ask Barack Obama and John McCain? This final debate deals with domestic issues-go to Show Me the Women and register your question: We have asked the other moderators for the same opportunity-Jim Lehrer (PBS) moderates the September 26th Debate and Tom Brokaw (NBC) the October 7 match-up. What we didn't know when we protested Gwen Ifill's (PBS) relegation to the VP debate on October 2nd, was that it will certainly be the most anticipated-the first face-to-face meeting of Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin. We've requested meetings with the networks to discuss this and share the impact of our Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying and Bias, Punditry and the Press reports. We will keep you posted. COURIC GETS A PALIN INTERVIEW Demonstrating laser focus on the women's vote, Sarah Palin has agreed to sit down next with the only woman anchor of network news, Katie Couric. Couric will travel with the VP candidate next Sunday and Monday, with reports airing on CBS News Monday and Tuesday , September 29-30, a perfect prelude to the VP debate that Thursday. On September 14, David Carr, media analyst for The New York Times wrote a very flattering piece on Couric's work at the Democratic convention, a diversion from his more critical stance. Wrote Carr, "The last time I wrote about Ms. Couric, I got in a bit of a jam for suggesting that if the best man for the anchor job was a woman, it wasn't the same job anymore. The implied sexism of the statement was lost on me, but not on readers and Ms. Couric herself.…as long as the job of anchoring network news keeps changing, no one, including me, should make a lot of assumptions about what kind of person should be sitting in that chair." Perhaps the seismic shift is really under way: women can be anchors, too-just like women can run for president! The website Gawker presents other evidence of what it calls a Couric "resurgence." Katie Couric: Resurgent Katie Couric Scores Palin Interview MADAME PRESIDENTS Speaking of women presidents-I get to spend time with three of them on Monday, September 22 as a moderator of the "Decent Work" forum organized by Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. Its founder, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner of Refugees at the UN will be joined by Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Finland's President Tarja Halonen and others to promote Decent Work policies around the world in an effort to end poverty. Many world leaders are streaming into New York City now, as the UN General Assembly gets underway and many will participate in Bill Clinton's Global Initiative conference next week as well. It all happens as Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appears this week to have taken the Prime Minister spot-and Rwandan women have won a world-record 44 parliamentary seats. We're working to make women-all women---visible and powerful in the media. We hope you'll join us. Best, Carol Jenkins WMC President