Before Thursday's vice-presidential debate, a call for more journalist self-disclosure

Lexington Herald-Leader | Politico

The news media borg has assimilated Centre College in Danville, Ky., in anticipation of Thursday's vice-presidential debate, Rich Copley reports for the the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader:

A huge portable stage for MSNBC arose behind the statue of President Lincoln — sporting his own, personalized debate credential — and a line of TV broadcast locations was forming along the sidewalk outside of the Norton Center for the Arts, where the debate takes place at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Inside, the college's gymnasium has been converted into a massive media center complete with "spin alley," where, immediately after the contest, representatives of each campaign will try to convince reporters their guy won.

The debate will be moderated by ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz. The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that President Obama attended Raddatz's wedding 21 years ago, a story ABC tried to get out in front of.

People appearing on the television program "Morning Joe" Thursday said this revelation was no small thing -- Raddatz divorced the groom, Obama FCC appointee Julius Genachowski, in 1997 -- and was due for a public airing: "I think news organizations ought to let reporters, have reporters be transparent about who they voted for, where they grew up," co-host Mika Brzezinski said. "I don't understand why reporters hide their sort of, the essence of who they are because it is by which the view, the lens that you see things through."

Or you could "judge her by her work," guest Mark Halperin suggests.

Before this discussion of journalistic ethics by way of hometown (Full disclosure: this blogger grew up mostly in Arlington, Va., after stops in West Hartford, Conn., and Ballymacelligot, Co. Kerry, Ireland), John McCain campaign operative Steve Schmidt allowed his team "definitely worked the referees" before a 2008 vice-presidential debate because moderator Gwen Ifill had written a book about "Politics and Race in the Age of Obama." Politico reporter Dylan Byers calls this revelation a "little gem."

"No one should fall out of their chair that this would be talked about," Schmidt said of Raddatz's wedding guestlist.

More good pre-debate reads: Conor Friedersdorf argues at least one debate should take place in a text-based medium (The Atlantic) | Former Newsweek D.C. bureau chief Evan Thomas says moderators should "usually should get out of the way and let these folks make their case and not interject too much" (NPR) | If Raddatz doesn't choose that course Thursday, "the story gets more interesting because then the opacity of the Debate Commission becomes even more outrageous" (PressThink) | Paul Ryan's challenge: "How do you prepare to debate someone who your supporters, some of your own staffers, and anyone who reads The Onion, are convinced is a cartoon character?" (BuzzFeed)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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