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From AJR,   August/September 2012  issue

The Wedding Guest   

President Obama attended Martha Raddatz’s wedding more than two decades ago. That makes her unfit to moderate tonight’s VP debate? Really? Thu., October 11, 2012.


By Rem Rieder
Rem Rieder (rrieder@ajr.umd.edu) is AJR's editor and senior vice president.      

Talk about a slender reed.

The rightwing commentariat is in an uproar over the fact that ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz is hosting tonight's vice presidential debate.

Raddatz's sin? President Barack Obama attended her wedding to Julius Genachowski, now chair of the Federal Communications Commission, back in 1991.

Really? That's enough to suggest that she is so biased that she's unfit to sit in the moderator's chair? Because the future Democrat-in-chief attended her wedding? More than two decades ago?

Raddatz is no longer married to the head FCC honcho. They divorced in 1997, and she's now married to NPR correspondent Tom Djelten. Obama no doubt sat on the groom's side at the Raddatz-Genachowski nuptials; he and Obama were classmates at Harvard Law School. Since the once happy couple are splitsville, maybe Obama's connection to Genachowski would work in the other direction, inspiring Raddatz to be biased against the Democrats.

Besides, is the GOP really worried about a moderator? Challenger Mitt Romney put on a clinic on how to steamroll one at the first presidential debate last week.

The Raddatz marriage outrage was unearthed by Tucker Carlson's conservative Web site, the Daily Caller, whipped up to a froth by other conservative mainstays, among them the inevitable Rush Limabugh, and broadcast to the world by conservative Town Crier Matt Drudge. But it's unclear how much actual indignation is at play. It's more likely a case of what we call "working the refs" down on the Cliché Corner, putting Raddatz on notice that she better not be too tough on Republican hopeful Paul Ryan, or there will be consequences.

Even without the faux scandale, there's no doubt plenty of attention would have been paid to tonight's moderator. Jim Lehrer's lame performance in that role last week, which almost overshadowed Obama's no-show as the dominant story line, guaranteed it. (We'll always be in Lehrer's debt because he inspired this brilliant Jimmy Fallon takedown.)

Raddatz is an interesting choice for the moderator's chair because her métier is foreign affairs, not the horse race. Maybe that will add some distance and perspective to her questions.

If she can only get past that lefty bias!