Martha Raddatz and the POTUS who watched her cut the cake

Apparently, ABC’s senior foreign correspondent, Martha Raddatz, has no business moderating tonight’s vice presidential debate because the boss of one of the men she’ll be grilling attended the 1991 wedding of a guy she divorced 15 years ago. Got it?


Martha Raddatz (ABC News)

I don’t: Some conservatives have questioned her ability to be objective about Joe Biden, given that Barack Obama is close to her first husband. But why on earth should someone so qualified be penalized because the law school pal of her ex, Julius Genachowski, who now runs the Federal Communications Commission, grew up to become president?

Others feel that she and ABC should at a minimum have disclosed such a potential conflict, but wouldn’t that have sounded more like a third-rate brag? (Sort of like, just for instance, Disclosure: At the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa, I had not one but two pleasant airport chats with Tucker Carlson, founder of the Daily Caller, the outlet that brought this non-news to the world’s attention. And?)

My favorite sentence in one of the Caller’s series of pieces on the subject blows the lid off the scoop that a “source who attended the 1991 wedding…remembered that a man by the name of ‘Barry Obama’ was among the guests dancing at the reception.” No word on whether the future commander-in-chief put his hands in the air like he just did not care, or knew the moves from that year’s dance hit, “Vogue.”

My friend Jeff Weiss thinks that as a buddy of someone Raddatz used to love, it’s just as likely that she has in for Obama, though I think that’s a stretch, too; I can’t imagine either favoring or holding a grudge against someone on that basis, can you?

Here’s the thing: As the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz notes, Raddatz knows her foreign policy potatoes, having “been to Iraq 21 times and traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan dozens of times. She has also covered the White House and the State Department. Raddatz was the first to report that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, had been killed in a U.S. airstrike, and reported exclusive details the night that Osama bin Laden was killed.”

Would any moderator be more interested in playing favorites than doing a good job? I don’t think so. My favorite moderator during primary season was Chris Wallace of Fox News, who certainly didn’t let either his previous acquaintance with any of the participants or his conservative politics prevent him from asking some impressively tough questions. Because like all of us, his strongest bias is in favor of doing the best job possible.

One Republican who’s not focused on boogie-gate is vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, whose office put out a statement indicating a complete lack of concern.

 (Disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever met either Raddatz or Wallace, but did talk to Genachowski for a story once.)

Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer who anchors the paper’s ‘She the People’ blog. Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.

Melinda Henneberger has been writing about politics and culture for the Washington Post since 2011.
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