On the heels of the Commission on Presidential Debates announcing that CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate, making her the first woman in twenty years to do so, another groundbreaking moment for women was announced. Award-winning political journalists and PBS veterans, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will co-anchor coverage of both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL (August 27 – 30) and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC (September 4 – 5), making history as the first all-female team ever to host coverage of the conventions.
The pairing of Woodruff and Ifill marks the first time the two have anchored presidential election coverage together and marks a return to the two-anchor format established by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer.
Although this appointment is a noteworthy milestone for women in media, both ladies have shied away from the gender parity conversation. In a recent interview with TVNewser Woodruff commented that “I think it matters a little; it doesn’t matter a lot. We’re not there because we’re women. We’re there because we love to cover politics and we’ve been doing it a long time.” Ifill agreed, referring to the distinction as “incidental”.
While we agree and applaud Ifill and Woodruff for earning their roles with experience and merit, we disagree with their avoidance of the historical significance they are making on behalf of women. In a perfect world, firsts for women wouldn’t need to be counted or marked, but we are still moving towards equality and every stride is worth counting.