Ifill: ‘Can we stop already with attacking the moderators?’

PBS Anchor Gwen Ifill defended debate moderators on Twitter today, after her colleague Jim Lehrer was criticized for his lack of engagement with presidential candidates at last week’s debate. Ifill may also have been pre-emptively protecting ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who will moderate tomorrow’s vice presidential debate.


ABC made its own pre-emptive strike Tuesday as it acknowledged that 18 years before he was sworn in as president, Barack Obama attended the wedding of Harvard Law School classmate Julius Genachowski to Raddatz. The couple divorced 15 years ago.

ABC VP and spokesman Jeffrey Schneider explained why the network released the information earlier this week:

There was no doubt in our mind that the Daily Caller story would become a Drudge headline. The only question was, would it be a Drudge headline three hours before the debate, creating some kind of swirl? Or would it become a Drudge headline two days before the debate?

“The whole point was to not be dealing with this ridiculous story three hours prior to Martha Raddatz moderating the debate,” Schneider said, “but to get the actual facts out two or three days ahead of time so that anybody who was interested would understand.”

Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren published an email Wednesday afternoon from a Fox colleague who said the Ryan campaign has “no concerns” about Raddatz moderating the debate.

Raddatz probably hasn’t seen Ifill’s tweet. In a New York Times story earlier this month, Raddatz said she was hoping to avoid the commentary.

Martha Raddatz, an ABC News correspondent who will moderate the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 11, said she was trying to stay off Twitter so she could avoid reading unflattering things about herself.

Not that it always works. She said her son reposted a message in which someone had snidely asked, “Who the heck is Martha Raddatz?”

At least that made her laugh, she said. “At first it sort of gets to you,” she said. “But then you’re like, whatever.”

Related: Candy Crowley tells The Huffington Post, “The expectations are enormous from people. My inbox is filled with questions from people.” (Huffington Post) | “I think what campaign journalists, conservative or liberal, always crave more than actual fairness, are twists.” (David Carr/The New York Times)

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