Conservatives cried foul ahead of Thursday's potentially crucial vice-presidential debate, after The Daily Caller reported that President Obama attended the 1991 wedding of the moderator, ABC News' Martha Raddatz. Obama attended Harvard Law School with the groom, Julius Genachowski, and later appointed him to head the Federal Communications Commission. ABC News said it was "absurd" to suggest that Raddatz, a "tough, fair" reporter, would be biased because Obama worked with her now ex-husband, and attended the wedding along with other members of the Harvard Law Review, including some future members of the Bush administration. Is it wrong to let Raddatz moderate the debate — or is it unfair to question her objectivity?
The Daily Caller is embarrassing itself: "Trying to smear" Raddatz over this is shameful, says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. First, conservatives badmouthed both Raddatz and the Commission on Presidential Debates, which selected her, by complaining that Genachowski, whom Raddatz divorced in 1997, would go on to serve in Obama's administration more than a decade later. Now their wedding day "apparently matters. Raddatz's remarkable career as a war correspondent of great courage and integrity doesn't." How sad.
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Liberals would scream if the roles were reversed: Let's be honest, says Matthew Sheffield at NewsBusters, "if a Fox News employee hosting a presidential debate were to be exposed as having such a relationship with a Republican president, the story would be plastered all over the media and left-leaning journalists would be calling for him/her to be immediately replaced." That certainly would be a good call in Raddatz' case.
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Scrutiny comes with the moderating job: "It's not unusual for debate moderators to be put under a microscope by partisan forces," says Michael Calderone at The Huffington Post. In 2008, The Drudge Report (which is touting the Raddatz story), "seized on Gwen Ifill's writing of a book on politics and race." Conservative media figures, "36 hours before Biden and Sarah Palin squared off," said this showed she was biased in favor of President Obama's campaign. Ifill shrugged it off, saying: "The moderator is not on the ballot."
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