Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz has covered White House, wars

By Jim Kavanagh, CNN
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
Moderator Martha Raddatz looks on at Centre College.
Moderator Martha Raddatz looks on at Centre College.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Martha Raddatz is ABC's senior foreign affairs correspondent
  • She's visited Iraq 21 times and flown in an F-15 over Afghanistan
  • Conservatives question her neutrality; Obama is a friend of her ex

(CNN) -- The moderator for Thursday night's vice presidential debate is Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News since 2008.

According to her ABCNews.go.com biography, Raddatz was ABC's White House correspondent during the George W. Bush administration, after serving as senior national security correspondent and State Department correspondent. She has traveled widely, including 21 trips to Iraq and multiple visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan. She has flown in an F-15 fighter jet over Afghanistan twice.

Before joining ABC, Raddatz was NPR's Pentagon correspondent for five years, during which time she made numerous trips to Europe covering the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Complete coverage: Presidential debates

Perspective from a moderator
Moderator on the hot seat
The 2012 debate moderators

In a separate profile on the site, Raddatz said moderating a debate may be scarier than going into a combat zone, "because you don't wear body armor" at a debate.

Raddatz has won four Emmy awards, the 2012 First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, the 2007 International Urbino Press Award, the 2005 Daniel Pearl Award from the Chicago Journalists Association, and an Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of the 1995 assassination of Israeli statesman Yitzhak Rabin. The White House Correspondents' Association gave Raddatz an award in 2007 for excellence in presidential news coverage under deadline pressure.

What would you have asked?

Raddatz's 2007 book, "The Long Road Home -- a Story of War and Family," was a New York Times and Washington Post best-seller.

You can follow Raddatz, 59, (@martharaddatz) on Twitter. She was raised by her mother in Salt Lake City after her father died when Raddatz was 2 years old, she told an interviewer from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, site of Thursday's debate. According to the website NNDB, she never completed college.

The conservative blog Daily Caller raised a flag on Raddatz on Wednesday, saying President Obama, while still a student at Harvard Law, attended her wedding to Obama classmate Julius Genachowski, whom Obama later appointed to lead the Federal Communications Commission, according to Politico. The Drudge Report and other conservative outlets subsequently raised doubts about Raddatz's objectivity.

Photos: The Vice Presidential Debate

"This is absurd," an ABC News spokesperson told Politico. "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. "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."

Where they stand: The candidates and issues

According to Contemporary Authors Online, Raddatz was born in Idaho and has also been married to Boston journalist Ben Bradlee Jr., the son of the famous Washington Post managing editor. She had one child each with Bradlee and Genachowski. She currently is married to award-winning NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten.

Raddatz broke up a White House press briefing in January 2007 when her cell phone suddenly started ringing loudly to the tune of "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire. White House spokesman Tony Snow's reaction -- "Does Martha have a hip-hop ringtone?" -- prompted raucous laughter from her fellow journalists while she scrambled to silence the phone. "Play that funky music, white girl," Snow cracked.

Ryan's debate prep as meticulous as he is

Moderator Lehrer knows the debate game

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Debates 2012
Your complete guide to the 2012 presidential debates.
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
The final presidential debate proved to be a substantive discussion on the nation's major issues as both candidates tried to persuade the small sliver of undecideds to vote for them.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
The presidential face off on foreign policy was geared to sway U.S. voters, on issues from Libya to Pakistan to China. Netizens, analysts and activists tuned in and weighed in.
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama headed into the final debate of the 2012 campaign with the biggest advantage of all: he's already commander-in-chief.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Three debates down and two weeks of campaigning to go.
updated 7:29 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
The rapid-fire commentary on Twitter turned what could have been dry television into deeply entertaining multi-screen experiences.
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Pres. Obama and candidate Mitt Romney debate a range of topics on foreign policy in the third presidential debate.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
Moderator Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and has been the host of "Face the Nation" since 1991.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
Tom Foreman looks at claims Obama and Romney made about Iran and the country's threatening nuclear capacities.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
The flagging economy has been the clear-cut No. 1 issue for this year's presidential race.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
Three days before Election Day in 2008, John McCain, behind in the polls, guest-starred on "Saturday Night Live."
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
While Obama and Romney were responding to questions from uncommitted voters at a town hall-style debate, they found plenty of opportunities to attack each other.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat October 13, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan exchanged fire over taxes, Medicare, national security and some animated facial expressions in their only debate.
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
By most accounts, Republican challenger Mitt Romney was the clear winner of his first debate with President Barack Obama.
What questions would you like to ask the candidates? Share a short video question.
ADVERTISEMENT