Op-Ed of the Day: No woman has ever moderated a presidential debate

In 1992, Carole Simpson became the first woman to moderate a presidential debate. And now, 20 years later, Candy Crowley will be the second.

But Carole Simpson, in The Atlantic, says she wasn’t real a moderator and Crowley won’t be either.

Twenty years ago when the Commission tapped me to moderate the first town hall debate, I was told the members wanted it to be an “Oprah-style” show. (Is that why they chose a black woman?) President George H.W. Bush, Governor Bill Clinton, and independent businessman Ross Perot were to answer questions from an audience of undecided voters from the Richmond, Virginia, area.

Basically, my role was to hold the microphone for each of the citizen questioners. I could ask a follow-up to clarify their questions and point out discrepancies in the candidates’ answers. I could also call time when the men went on too long. But I could not ask my own questions. I was simply the figure you see at so many forums — a character I’ve come to think of as “the lady with the microphone” — albeit one who was an anchor for a major television network.

What’s Crowley’s debate format? A townhall-style debate where the audience asks the questions and she holds the mic.

Watch Simpson at work in 1992:

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host