Tonight’s debate moderator Martha Raddatz [far right]with her pals at Sesame Street. ABC says no bias, move on, nothing to see here!
In 2008 it was vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill from PBS who had a major conflict of interest. It was a Drudge headline:
As Mark Whittington wrote at the time:
he upcoming debate between Vice Presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden hasn’t even occurred yet and it already has its first controversy. It seems that Gwen Ifill, the PBS reporter who will moderate the debate is in the tank for Barack Obama.
This should not be too surprising. Most journalists in the mainstream media are as much in love with Barack Obama as the giddy college students who used to swoon at his rallies. Gwen Ifill works for PBS, hardly a hotbed of McCain support. But it seems that Gwen Ifill has not only an ideological interest in an Obama victory, but a financial stake as well.
Gwen Ifill is coming out with a book, entitled The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, a book describing the state of black politics in the modern age, as the civil rights generation starts to give way to a generation of African Americans who benefited from the civil rights struggle and never lived under Jim Crow and segregation.
The problem Gwen Ifill faces is that should John McCain win the election, there is not going to be an “Age of Obama.” The campaign of Barack Obama will be an important development in American history, but it will not have the world historical impact that it would have should Barack Obama not be elected President. Thus, Gwen Ifill’s book will not sell as well.
Not only was/and is Ifill a rabid Obama supporter, she had a significant financial stake in the election. Obviously the only way her book would have been relevant is if Obama won the presidency. Folks that watched the debate could see a definite bias. The debate commission saw no problem with Ifill moderating the debate.
We have come to expect major media bias, and even major bias at these debates, but when you have such an obvious conflict of interest as Ifill had, there is no way you should be allowed anywhere near the debate.
That brings us to tonight. It seems we have another issue with the moderator. Though there is no financial motive, Barack Obama and Martha Raddatz are acquainted. From The Daily Caller:
President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.
After TheDC made preliminary inquiries Monday to confirm Obama’s attendance at the wedding, ABC leaked a pre-emptive statement to news outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast Tuesday, revealing what may have been internal network pressure felt just days before Raddatz was scheduled to moderate the one and only vice-presidential debate Thursday night.
Both Politico and The Daily Beast jumped to ABC and Raddatz’s defense. The Huffington Post, a liberal news outlet, joined them shortly thereafter, while calling “unusual” ABC’s attempt to kill the story before it gained wide circulation.
As Twitchy reports, ABC called the questions of Raddatz’s fitness to moderate tonight’s debate “absurd” and Politico’s Dylan Byers joyfully reports that the Commission on Presidential Debates sees absolutely no problems here:
“We selected Martha Raddatz because she is a terrific journalist and will be a terrific moderator and we’re thrilled to have her,” Peter Eyre, an adviser to the Commission, said in a statement. “The notion that that somehow affects her ability is not something we have given a moment’s thought to.”
Look, it would be absurd to pretend everyone involved doesn’t have political biases one way of the other. But it’s just as absurd to think someone who has decades long ties to the President belongs at that table moderating an important debate.
In 2008 we all watched Gwen Ifill like a hawk watches chickens, watching for any attempts to sway the debate in Biden’s favor. We must keep the same sharp eye on Martha Raddatz and be prepared for the same shenanigans.