Women are taking a front seat (literally) at the fifth democratic debate on Wednesday — and we’re not just talking about the candidates. For the first time in this election cycle, the debate will feature an all-women panel that includes four powerhouse journalists: Rachel Maddow, Kristen Welker, Ashley Parker, and Andrea Mitchell.
It’s no surprise that NBC, which is co-sponsoring the debate with The Washington Post, chose these four specific reporters — Maddow and Mitchell are both NBC News vets, Welker is one of its White House correspondents, and Parker is a White House correspondent for The Post. So, can we expect things to run differently with women in the driver’s seat?
There are still a number of women who are in the running that qualified for Wednesday’s debate, and some have brought up that they are itching to shift the focus of the questions. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will be on the floor and hopefully tackle the absent women’s health issues throughout the debates thus far. To date, in only one debate (the fourth) did a moderator bring up reproductive rights, though Harris has passionately attempted to open doors to this conversation throughout.
But this won’t be the first all-women moderated debate: In 2016’s general election, two debates made history with only women in the hot seat. The first happened in the January Republican primary and the second in the February Democratic primary. Both debates featured a pair of women who were not interested in the milestone factor, but rather getting to the root of each candidate’s policies.
“[We] were not chosen for this because we're women. We're going to be there because we're both very smart, very accomplished, substantive people who can conduct a debate,” journalist Trish Regan said in an interview with Elle before moderating a Republican primary debate.
There is hope, though, that as four women are in the forefront of a pivotal moment for these Democratic candidates, issues around abortion, childcare, paid family leave, and gender discrimination are addressed throughout.
Ahead, read more about each moderator.