On Wednesday night, National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) president Hugo Balta issued the following statement about the decision by the Commission on Political Debates (CPD) regarding moderator choices. The three moderators chosen were Chris Wallace of Fox News, Steve Scully of C-SPAN and Kristen Welker of NBC News.
Here is the full text of Balta’s statement from Wednesday night:
Today, three white co-chairs of the commission on presidential debates have once again denied Hispanics and Latinos a seat at the table approaching Election 2020.
Following the announcement of the CPD’s decision to exclude a Latino journalist as a debate moderator, the NAH is left to wonder both why? and how?
It is preposterous to look at the state of our country and increasingly polarized communities across the nation, and not be left to wonder how is it possible that our community remains excluded?
When the people in the position to sincerely inform 32 million eligible voters do not fulfill their responsibility, it is not a question to us, as to why Latino’s civic engagement —not partisanship— but civic engagement, is low each election year.
While Latinos remain the leading driver of the national population growth —partisan and nonpartisan parties alike— only engage at a time when there is something to be taken, but rarely ever to be given.
Top concerns for the Latino community do not begin, nor end at immigration. Health care, education, economic consequence and job creation all live at the top of minds for over 60 million Latinos residing in the country.
It is not a partisan issue, this is about the right to be informed. As the fourth estate that is our right and duty.
And due to an already existing lack of representation —and in the middle of a pandemic— the access of accurate information, context, and resources are disproportionate for underprivileged communities.
The information needs are simply not being met.
And that is the role of the CPD as we approach Election 2020. To help us as journalists inform the nation… all of us.
But it is impossible to do so without equal representation.
By not sharing a seat at the table, this irresponsible decision manipulates democratic principles and a chance for a future that is equitable and fair. It is inexcusable that not only in 2020, but in the midst of a racial reckoning, these three co-chairs and the CPD made a conscious decision to deny a voice in the most visible and opportune moment to rebalance the scales of equality.
This is no longer solely an issue of fair and accurate representation of Latinos. The decision and complicit behavior by the commission on presidential debates perpetuate the erasure of our community.
Finally, the NAHJ will once again reach out to the CPD to inquire about the most salient factors in their process, however there will not be an answer that can excuse such poor judgement, and participation in harmful racial and cultural discourse.
As it has been in its 35-year-long history, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will continue to fight for the fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news.