UltraViolet Reacts to Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 21, 2019
CONTACT: Brett Abrams | brett@unbendablemedia.com

UltraViolet Reacts to Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate

Statement from Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet Action, a leading national women’s organization on tonight’s Democratic presidential primary debate on MSNBC:

“Tonight’s presidential primary debate can be best summarized not by any of the candidates on the stage – but by the context around it: on the one hand, it featured a fantastic all-woman moderation team, and on the other, it was hosted by a media company with serious problems related to workplace sexual assault and harassment.

“Make no mistake – including women and people of color as moderators in the debate – makes these debates better and the Democratic party stronger. Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Ashley Parker and Kristin Welker moderated a fast-paced, well organized-debate that addressed a number of critical issues to Democratic voters that normally go ignored: abortion rights, pay inequity for women and especially women of color, workplace harassment, gender-based violence, and access to affordable childcare.

“We applaud Sen. Klobuchar, Warren, and Sanders for boldly speaking about the importance of abortion rights, and framing the issue as an issue of economic and social justice, one that requires all people – including men to get involved. We applaud Sen. Harris and Sen. Booker for talking about racial and economic inequities and how to address them.

“But this debate was also defined by what was not addressed: workplace sexual abuse, and the fact that MSNBC, and it’s parent company Comcast/NBC Universal, have a serious problem with silencing survivors, enabling abuse, and creating a culture of impunity where employees were simply unsafe.

“This is a big problem and we’re proud that five Democratic candidates on stage (Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren, Sen. Booker, Sen. Harris and Tom Steyer) joined with us in supporting survivors and urging the DNC to use its power to demand that NBC do better. NBC can and must do better.”

Earlier this week, UltraViolet Action organized now-six Democratic presidential candidates – Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Julian Castro, and Tom Steyer – in a letter to the DNC urging the Democratic Party to pressure Comcast / NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC, to commission an independent investigation into sexual harassment across its NBC media networks. UltraViolet’s campaign began earlier this year when allegations of abuse and silencing of survivors emerged across Comcast / NBCUniversal networks.

Earlier this Summer, UltraViolet Action, led a coalition of organizations in an effort to convince media outlets like NBC to ensure that at least 50% of debate and town hall moderators were women and people of color. In May, shortly after informing the DNC about UltraViolet Action’s #AskForWomen Pledge, which had secured the support of a number of prominent 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates, the Democratic National Committee announced that it will require female moderators at every 2020 presidential debate.

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