ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz has become a much-discussed name going into tonight's Vice Presidential debate due to the fact that in 1991 President Obama attended Raddatz's wedding to her first husband Julius Genachowski.
Genachowski and Obama were classmates at Harvard Law.
Raddatz will be serving as moderator of the event, which will be held in Danville, Kentucky at Centre College, and the conservative web site, the Daily Caller, appears to feel strongly about the connection.
"In August, The Daily Caller first connected Genachowski, an Obama appointee, to Raddatz following her selection as the vice presidential debate moderator by the left-leaning Commission on Presidential Debates," The Daily Caller's Josh Peterson writes in a story published yesterday.
The Morning Joe panel discussed the controversy today, with Mika Brzezinski saying about Raddatz:
She’s an incredible journalist; I’m not worried about her being objective…I don’t know if she disclosed this, but these things should be out there. We should be as transparent as we can about our family connections.
Joe Scarborough said the onus was on ABC News to be transparent about the connection.
Everyone thinks Martha Raddatz is a great reporter, one of the best we have. That said, ABC News should’ve been transparent up front and should’ve said that there was a connection...There has to be some transparency there. Nobody that knows Martha Raddatz is going to assume that it’s going to make her pull punches at all, but again, you know, be transparent. It’s not a small thing that Barack Obama went to her wedding.
Willie Geist cited a previous case when the objectivity of a vice-presidential moderator came into question: in 2008, when PBS' Gwen Ifill was tapped to moderate the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Ifill's book on African-American politicians (including President Obama) was set to be released on Inauguration Day, and leading up to the debate, conservative critics questioned Ifill's objectivity.
Geist also asked Morning Joe panelist Steve Schmidt if Ifill's book worried the McCain campaign. Schimdt served as a strategist and advisor to the McCain campaign.
"No, not really, but we definitely worked the referees with it," he said.
"This is absurd. Martha Raddatz is known for her tough, fair reporting, which is why it was no surprise to her colleagues inside and outside ABC News that she was chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates for this assignment," an ABC News representative wrote in a statement sent to POLITICO. "Barack Obama was a law school classmate of Raddatz's ex-husband Julius Genachowski at Harvard. At the time Barack Obama was a student and president of the Law Review. He attended their wedding over two decades ago along with nearly the entire Law Review, many of whom went on to successful careers including some in the Bush administration. Raddatz and Mr. Genachowski divorced in 1997 and both are now remarried."