Martha Raddatz, a ABC senior foreign correspondent who’s moderating tomorrow’s vice presidential debate, came under fire from conservatives today after the Daily Caller revealed President Barack Obama attended her 1991 wedding to her ex-husband, Julius Genachowski, a former classmate and Harvard Law Review colleague of Mr. Obama’s who the president tapped to head the Federal Communications Commission in 2009. However, her current husband, Tom Gjelten, also has a rather interesting connection to the presidential candidates–he’s a correspondent for National Public Radio, an organization Mitt Romney has infamously and repeatedly vowed to strip of its federal funding.
Mr. Gjelten and Ms. Raddatz were married in the late 1990′s. They met at NPR. Mr. Romney has regularly cited his desire to end federal subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding for both NPR and the television Public Broadcasting Service. During what was perhaps the most talked-about moment of the first presidential debate, Mr. Romney discussed this plan while also noting the connection of the debate’s moderator, PBS NewsHour executive editor Jim Lehrer, to the issue.
“I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Mr. Romney said. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.”
PBS responded to Mr. Romney’s remarks with a statement saying he “does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation.”
“The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating,” the PBS statement said.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting received about $445 million from the federal budget in 2012. Though ending that federal funding probably wouldn’t entirely eliminate either PBS or NPR, it would cause both organizations to need other sources of funding to remain at present levels and could lead to reductions at the organizations funded by the CPB.
Both ABC News and the Commission on Presidential Debates issued responses to the Daily Caller report about Ms. Raddatz’s wedding dismissing any concerns her past connection to the president.
“This is absurd,” a representative for ABC News told Politico’s Dylan Byers. ”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.”
The non-partisan Commission on Presidential was apparently aware the president had attended Ms. Raddatz’s wedding. In a statement given to USA Today, Peter Eyre, an advisor to the commission, said it was a non-issue.
“We selected Martha Raddatz because she is a terrific journalist and will be a terrific moderator and we’re thrilled to have her. The notion that that somehow affects her ability is not something we have given a moment’s thought to,” Mr. Eyre said.
Representatives for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also aren’t worried about Ms. Raddatz moderating the debates. In an email to Fox News, Mr. Ryan’s spokesperson, Michael Steel simply said he had “no concerns” when asked about any potential impartiality or conflict-of-interest coming from Ms. Raddatz.