On Thursday morning, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel hashed out the story that’s had a major impact on the news cycle: Does it matter that President Obama attended the 1991 wedding of ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who will be moderating tonight’s vice presidential debate?
“I would’ve preferred to know this about Martha,” said co-host Mika Brzezinski, reacting to The Daily Caller’s Wednesday report revealing Raddatz’s connection to the president.
The panel unanimously agreed that Raddatz is “a great reporter — one of the best that we have,” in host Joe Scarborough’s words.
“That said, ABC News should have been transparent up front and should of said there was a connection,” Scarborough went on. “ABC’s been pushing back on this story for a very long time, and there has to be some transparency there.”
“Be transparent,” emphasized Scarborough, “It’s not a small thing that Barack Obama went to her wedding.”
When asked by co-host Willie Geist if Republicans were concerned with PBS reporter Gwen Ifill as a moderator in 2008 — who had written a book titled “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” — panelist and Republican strategist Steve Schmidt replied, “No, not really, but we definitely worked the referees with it.”
Scarborough speculated that if the political dynamics were reversed, the story would make the front page of The New York Times.
“What happens if David Axelrod, our dear friend, finds out a couple of days before the debate that the debate moderator went to Mitt Romney’s wedding?” asked Scarborough. “It would be like the apocalypse,” responded Schmidt. “Kaboom,” said Scarborough.
“The New York Times would have it on the front page,” Scarborough said, “I mean, there would be locusts descending from the heavens.”
Former Obama “car czar” Steve Rattner attempted to downplay the relevance of Raddatz’s Obama connection, but when pressed, said, “I totally think it should be revealed, totally think it should be revealed.”
Scarborough said he was less concerned with Raddatz than he was with ABC News, which first shielded Raddatz from scrutiny and later insisted Obama’s attendance at her wedding didn’t matter.
“And we’re not talking about Martha here. We’re talking about ABC News,” explained Scarborough. “They have a responsibility to get that out there, and so, it’s an oversight maybe, but don’t act shocked and stunned that Republicans may be putting a question mark up there.”
Schmidt jumped in to say that politicians are regularly covered by the media for conflicts of interest, to which Scarborough responded, “Well, except for news organizations, Mika, who don’t want the same sort of oversight that they give politicians.”
“I think news organizations need to let reporters, have reporters be transparent about who they voted for, where they grew up,” Brzezinski said.
Panelist and “Game Change” author Mark Halperin reinforced the panel’s belief that Raddatz’s credibility is “beyond question,” but admitted that, “absolutely, people should know” about her Obama connection.
One Politico blogger noted that the panel had “smart takes here all around.”