PBS Announces Plans to Broadcast 2007 Presidential Forums Tavis Smiley to Moderate Conversations Between Journalists and Announced Candidates
Arlington, VA, February 8, 2007 – PBS announced today it will broadcast two live presidential forums in primetime with Tavis Smiley, host of TAVIS SMILEY, PBS’ late-night talk show, serving as moderator.
The Democratic presidential forum will be held Thursday, June 28, at 9 p.m. EST, at Howard University in Washington, DC. The Republican presidential forum will be held Thursday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m. EST, at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
The forums will include three journalists of color who will pose questions to the candidates. Additional details regarding the selection of the journalists and forums will be released at a later date.
“These forums reflect PBS’ commitment to informing the public on the key issues in the next presidential campaign, and we are especially delighted that Tavis Smiley, who is so knowledgeable on these topics, will serve as moderator,” said PBS president and chief executive officer Paula A. Kerger.
In addition to his PBS program, Smiley also hosts the “Tavis Smiley Show from PRI,” a two-hour news and opinion radio program featuring commentary and interviews.
Smiley, who conceived of the forums, said they are an outgrowth of last year’s New York Times best-seller, the Covenant with Black America. When the book was released in 2006, both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee pledged that their respective presidential candidates would address the issues outlined in the book. Edited by Smiley, the book outlines 10 of the most pressing issues facing African Americans.
“While Iraq is clearly an important issue for all Americans, there are a number of domestic issues mentioned in my book that we’re all grappling with in this country, including education, healthcare, the economy – you name it. As moderator, I will insure that the forums address these issues,” says Smiley. “We live in the most multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic America ever, and the presidential campaign must respond to and reflect this reality from all perspectives.”
“Tavis Smiley asks the questions that other interviewers won’t,” says Al Jerome, president and chief executive officer of KCET, the presenting station for the forums. These conversations are sure to be lively as well as informative.”
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
About Tavis Smiley
Tavis Smiley is the host of TAVIS SMILEY on PBS and “The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI” and the author/editor of 11 books including the New York Times best-sellers Covenant with Black America and What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing up in America. His latest book, THE COVENANT In Action is in stores now. For more information, visit www.tavistalks.com.
Laurel Lambert, KCET Los Angeles
Carrie Johnson, PBS
PBS ANNOUNCES CONFIRMED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENTIAL FORUM AIRING JUNE 28 ON PBS STATIONS NATIONWIDE
Tavis Smiley Moderates Live Broadcast From Howard University
April 4, 2007, Washington, DC -- Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson will participate in the “All-American Presidential Forums on PBS,” moderated by Tavis Smiley, on June 28, 2007, from 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET at Howard University in Washington, DC. Questions to the candidates will be posed by Smiley and journalists Michel Martin of National Public Radio, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. and USA Today and Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham. The event will be televised live on PBS.
“All-American Presidential Forums” on PBS, moderated by Tavis Smiley, marks the first time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime. The candidates will be asked about issues ranging from healthcare and housing to Katrina relief, the economy and the environment, among others outlined in the #1 The New York Times best-seller, Covenant With Black America.
A second forum for Republican presidential candidates will be held on September 27, 2007, on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
“We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of all parties for this historic event,” said Smiley. “From the title to the format, the ‘All-American Presidential Forums’ was created to provide fresh perspectives and an unprecedented level of inclusion for all Americans in general, and people of color in particular, in these critical discussions about our country’s future.”
“The Forums will give voice to vital questions the American public wants to have answered in this crucial election process,” said John Boland, PBS chief content officer. “Kicking off an ambitious line-up of content on multiple platforms for PBS Election 2008, we are proud to help facilitate this important dialogue, which truly represents the mission of public broadcasting.”
Immediate public feedback on the performance of the candidates will be conducted by noted pollster Frank Luntz, who will also appear on “Tavis Smiley” on PBS the following evening to discuss his findings.
The PBS Democratic Forum will be simultaneously webcast on PBS.org, and video of both events will be archived for download and viewing on the Web site. The Web site (pbs.org/tavissmiley) will include additional coverage of the presidential candidates and their positions on key issues of the campaign, including past interviews, backgrounders, viewer polls and a forum blog and election resources. Visitors will be able to submit their own questions for the candidates, read commentary and share their own opinions.
About Tavis Smiley
TAVIS SMILEY is the host of “Tavis Smiley” on PBS and “The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI” and the author/editor of 11 books, including The New York Times best-sellers Covenant With Black America and What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. His latest book, THE COVENANT in Action is in stores now. For more information, visit www.tavistalks.com.
About the Panelists
MICHEL MARTIN is a host and reporter for National Public Radio. Prior to joining NPR, she was a correspondent for ABC News Nightline, a reporter for The Washington Post and a White House correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR. is a member of the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group. His twice-a-week column appears in nearly 200 newspapers.
DeWAYNE WICKHAM is a columnist for USA Today and the Gannett News Service. His syndicated column is distributed to more than 130 daily newspapers in the United States. Wickham also serves as director of the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
“All-American Presidential Forums on PBS” is produced by TS Media, Inc., and presented by KCET Los Angeles. Tavis Smiley is executive producer and Neal Kendall will serve as producer.
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 355 public noncommercial television stations and reaches more than 75 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS’ premier kids’ TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (www.pbskids.org), continue to be parents’ and teachers’ most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
Laurel Lambert, KCET Los Angeles
Carrie Johnson, PBS