Debate moderator becomes history with question to Muslim candidate
Televised debates are often a sensation when a candidate goes wrong. But sometimes it’s the moderator who gets all the attention.
In a televised debate with Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor this week, WJLA moderator Dave Lucas asked candidate Sam Rasoul if he could assure voters he would represent Virginians of all faiths .
Scott Simpson, with the Muslim Advocates group, says this question employs anti-Muslim tropes. “We would never accept a moderator who asks whether a candidate is beholden to their Jewish or Christian donors,” Simpson argues, “and it makes no sense that it is acceptable to ask about Muslim donors . Muslim candidates for office are frequently the target of hate speech and death threats. “
Rasoul, who is a Muslim and a delegate representing the town of Roanoke, says this is all a distraction. “No one else is asking these questions,” says Rasoul. “And sadly that’s not what Virginians want to hear about. They want to know how we’re going to improve access to their health care, about the broadband issues, how we’re going to be safe to bring the kids back. at school. . “
Rasoul is one of six Democrats campaigning for the lieutenant governor’s nomination in the primary next month.
On Thursday evening, Muslim Advocates said Sinclair Broadcast Group, the company that owns WJLA, sent a statement apologizing for the matter. The TV station also posted the same statement on its website: “In an important and relevant exchange on campaign finance during the debate, our presenter, Dave Lucas, posed an inappropriate and disrespectful question to the delegate. Sam Rasoul. We contacted the delegate directly. Delegate to the Rasoul campaign to sincerely apologize for this question and for the impact of these comments. “