Mitch McConnell blasted for refusing to participate in debates that include women as moderators
Senator Mitch McConnell speaking at the 130th annual Fancy Farm picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The last time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) participated in a debate with a female moderator was almost 25 years ago in 1996 and, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the trend isn't changing anytime soon.

“It’s no surprise that the same person who is blocking renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, equal pay for women in the workplace and so much other legislation that would help Kentucky women is refusing to appear in a debate moderated by a woman,” Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson Marisa McNee said. “Mitch McConnell has been in the Senate for 35 years. It’s time for him to step into the modern world where women are equal, and, stop forcing last minute changes to avoid accountability.”

In addition to his apparent "no women with brains" clause, McConnell explicitly refused to join Libertarian candidate Brad Barron in any debate whatsoever - even though Barron qualified for the KET debate.

KET is the statewide public affairs channel that would be moderated by a Black woman, Renee Shaw. In 1997, Shaw began her career at KET as a public policy reporter and associate producer. In 2005, she launched the first statewide minority affairs program, Connections with Renee Shaw, on KET. Shaw has trained journalists in Southeast Asia on reporting principles and standards and produced multi-platform, issue and public policy reports for a national news service. She travels across the state moderating public issues forums and speaking about diversity, media, political and state legislative matters.

There are also reports that McConnell's campaign worked to get a woman proposed to co-moderate the debate — WAVE3’s Shannon Cogan — removed. The debate is now moderated only by a man. Cogan is a multiple Emmy Award winning reporter who covered the Columbia space shuttle disaster and the 2000 presidential election.