Martha Raddatz is the moderator of tonight’s vice presidential debate. In 1991, Barack Obama attended her wedding. A year later, her then-husband, now a high level administration appointee and a personal friend of the president, attended the Obamas’ wedding.
Irrelevant information? Put it this way: If Raddatz were a judge, she’d likely have to recuse herself from cases pertaining to the Obamas.
We’re not arguing that Raddatz will slant tonight’s debate in the Obama campaign’s favor — any more than a member of Congress would automatically vote for an appropriation simply because it helps a campaign contributor. We are arguing that the public has a right to know the facts about Raddatz’s relationship to the president.
You’d think that ABC News would be arguing the same thing. This is a network, after all, that has made a reputation (as well as a fortune) by exposing conflicts of interest among politicians, judges, business leaders and others in positions of authority.
But not among journalists. That’s the line ABC News won’t cross, as our reporter Josh Peterson learned the hard way this summer, when he called the network to ask about Raddatz’s connections to Obama. ABC flacks refused to answer his questions. They hid the information from public view.
When confronted with proof by The Daily Caller months later, ABC made up facts to minimize the appearance of impropriety. A network flack named David Ford sent a statement to sympathetic liberal news outlets attacking Peterson for daring to question Raddatz’s impartiality. In his statement, Ford claimed that Obama’s attendance at the wedding didn’t mean anything, because “nearly the entire law review attended the wedding.”
Really? There were in the neighborhood of 80 members of the Harvard Law Review at the time. That’s a total of 160 people, with dates. Must have been some wedding.
When Peterson pressed Ford for just how many Harvard law students went to Raddatz’s wedding, Ford stopped answering. None of this stopped the Huffington Post, Politico or the Daily Beast from dutifully repeating Ford’s whopper with no questions asked.
So let’s see: A network that hides relevant information about one of its employees, then lies when confronted about it — that’s who you want moderating a national debate in the final weeks of a presidential campaign? Washington isn’t known for its rigorous ethics tests, but Raddatz and ABC just failed a basic one.
Will professional Republicans point this out? Keep in mind that these are the people who spend half their lives whining about liberal bias in the media, and the other half encouraging it by playing along. Remember when former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos opened the GOP primary debate he moderated with a bizarre string of questions about birth control — questions that just happened to dovetail with the Obama campaign’s newly-minted “war on women” theme? Do you recall the Republican debate co-hosted by MSNBC, the one with post-game analysis from Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton? Republican campaign officials made all that possible.
So don’t expect the GOP establishment to do much more than posture with liberal reporters. As for the media policing their own, get real. They despise us even for broaching the topic of Raddatz’s potential conflicts, and have said so loudly. Fine. We’re not here to make friends. We do think you had a right to know. Thanks to Josh Peterson, now you do.