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Jun 21, 2024, 12:32pm EDT
mediaNorth America

Rights leader presses CNN over debate plans

Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein
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The Scoop

The president and CEO of one of the country’s most prominent civil rights groups wrote a private letter to CNN this week hoping to shape the questions the network’s moderators ask President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump during next week’s election debate.

Maya Wiley, the president of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a regular on cable news, wrote that the network had an obligation to ask the candidates about voting rights, revelations about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s wife’s political activities, and the backlash to efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Tens of millions of people will be watching the Presidential debate, many still trying to decide who to vote for. They deserve to hear answers to questions about civil and human rights in America, from AI to voting to hate and bias, because we have listened and Americans are telling us these are top issues,” Wiley told Semafor in an email. “The moderators of this debate have long track records of meeting the moment with precise and specific questions people care about and the nation needs them to do it now more than ever.”

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Addressed to moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, as well as CNN political director David Chalian, the letter listed several areas which the Leadership Council said CNN should focus on: Threats to voting participation and the democratic process, the impact of technological change on civil rights, and the politicization of the US justice system, including the Supreme Court.

CNN declined to comment.

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Know More

In the weeks leading up to recent debates, various interest and political groups often lobby the networks, hoping that their issue could be one of the few topics put to the two candidates. For its part, CNN began prep as soon as the network confirmed last month that it would be hosting a debate. In recent weeks, the network’s political reporting staff have been reviewing previous debates, and beginning to craft questions. With the debate set nearing completion, the network has also started holding rehearsals for Thursday’s contest.

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Wiley’s coalition of civil rights and some left-leaning groups will likely get its way on at least one issue: The Biden campaign has made preserving democratic norms the pillar of his campaign, and won’t miss an opportunity to bring it up without prompting from the moderators.

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