NEW YORK (AP) — Liberals are urging CNN to add a left-leaning questioner to its panel at this week’s debate of Democratic presidential candidates, saying it’s only fair because conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt participated in the network’s coverage of the second Republican debate last month.
An online petition was being circulated by the group RootsAction on Monday asking for the change.
CNN had no immediate comment about the suggested change to its lineup for Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas, the first such meeting of Democratic candidates. Anderson Cooper is the moderator. Juan Carlos Lopez and Dana Bash will ask questions, while Don Lemon chooses questions submitted through Facebook.
“You want someone at the debate for Tuesday night who will question the Democrats from the progressive perspective,” said Jeff Cohen, a former MSNBC producer who now teaches at Ithaca College, and the petition’s author.
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Such a journalist, from outlets like Mother Jones, The Nation or Democracy Now, could raise a topic that a more mainstream moderator might miss that’s important to the left wing base, he said.
Hewitt was on stage to ask questions when CNN televised the GOP debate last month because of a co-sponsoring agreement with the Salem Media Group, which distributes the conservative commentator’s talk show. Salem owns 112 radio stations and websites like townhall.com, and focuses on content promoting Christian and conservative values.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee will all participate in the CNN debate. CNN has said it would make room for Vice President Joe Biden if he were to decide to run as late as the day of the debate.