The Washington Post

Martha Raddatz familiar with pressure, if not the spotlight

Tonight, ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz will join a small club of women who have moderated presidential and vice presidential debates. And she takes the seat just eight days after many panned Jim Leherer's performance in the presidential debate. 

Raddatz is already under (rhetorical) fire -- the conservative Daily Caller reported Wednesday that President Obama, then a law student, was a guest at her 1991 wedding to former husband and current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. ABC and the Commission on Presidential debates have defended Raddatz's selection

High-pressure situations are part of Raddatz's day job. Here's how ABC summarized her resume

Martha Raddatz was named senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News in November 2008 after serving as White House correspondent during the last term of President George W. Bush's administration. She first joined ABC News as the State Department correspondent in January 1999. Before that, she covered foreign policy, defense and intelligence issues for National Public Radio.

Her coverage has won numerous awards, including the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award this spring.

Raddatz has traveled to Iraq 21 times and frequently covered other dangerous conflict zones.  But the spotlight shining on her tonight may not be as familiar to her as to others selected for the job. Howard Kurtz explains why:

Beat reporters are often overlooked in a television world that bestows the highest degree of fame and the biggest financial rewards on the star performers known as anchors, who tend to be stronger personalities. Raddatz has not put herself in the center of her stories, which is why she’s a fascinating choice.

Our colleague Paul Farhi wrote on whether her gender will affect how the candidates behave toward her -- specifically whether or not they will be less deferential as she referees the 90-minute forum. Carole Simpson, who moderated a debate in 1992, said she thinks they may, in fact, be tougher on her.

Natalie Jennings is a senior producer for Washington Post Video.

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