Meet Kristen Welker, the 1st Black Woman to Moderate a Presidential Debate Solo in Almost 30 Years

Photo: MANDEL NGAN (Getty Images)

By Anne Branigin,

Even though tens of millions of American voters have already made up their minds about who ought to be the next president of the United States, many are still expected to tune into tonight’s final presidential debate between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

In the middle of the brouhaha will be NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker, only the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate and the first to do so in more than 20 years (ABC News journalist Carole Simpson was the first in 1992).

Welker is also the only nonwhite person to moderate a debate in 2020, a year when race and racial justice have been central issues in political and social spheres.

When the 44-year-old sits across from the presidential candidates on Thursday night, she will be the youngest moderator of the election cycle by “nearly a generation,” notes the Washington Post. But while Welker is unquestionably diligent, professional and poised—just see how she gracefully sidestepped two collapsing fixtures during a live shot from the White House earlier this year—the true test for tonight will be how well she manages an event that devolved into chaos the last time the two candidates met on stage.

The last time Trump and Biden shared a room was for the first debate, on Sep. 29. Unbeknownst to everyone outside his inner circle at the time, Trump had recently been exposed to the coronavirus. He spent much of the debate, moderated by Fox News journalist Christopher Wallace, cutting off Biden in a 90-minute slog that supplied much in the way of rancor (and migraines) but little substance. Because of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis—and his refusal to participate in a virtual event—the second debate between Trump and Biden was replaced with dueling town-halls. Biden came out on top of Trump when it came to ratings, with Today Show host Savannah Guthrie earning widespread praise for the way she challenged Trump when he would evade questions or lie…

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1 Comment

  1. kirk on October 25, 2020 at 3:15 AM

    So what! This is the 21st Century, I guess NBC Executives would like to pat themselves on the back right!!!! This wasn’t their first choice okay, just like the movies. Kristen Welker’ salary should go up right? She was in control so pay her ! $12,500,000 a year

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