Hey Drudge, Daily Caller: This Is What A Real Moderator Conflict Of Interest Looks LikeOctober 10, 2012 3:51 PM EDT ››› OLIVER WILLIS
The Daily Caller and the Drudge Report are hyping the fact that Barack Obama attended vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz's wedding to Julius Genachowski (now the head of the FCC) in 1991 as evidence of a conflict of interest.
CNBC/New York Times journalist John Harwood dismissed the complaints from what he described as "'bias' babies," noting the couple "divorced years ago" (in 1997). Peter Eyre, an adviser to the debate commission, told USA Today that "The notion that that somehow affects her ability is not something we have given a moment's thought to." Fox's Greta Van Susteren reports that Rep. Paul Ryan's campaign "has no concerns" about Raddatz moderating, adding, "this should end any complaints about ABC's Martha Raddatz moderating tomorrow night's VP debate."
The Caller/Drudge allegations appear even weaker when compared to the case of Bob Schieffer, who moderated the third presidential debate in 2004 and faced an actual conflict of interest.
A year before that debate, Schieffer told Howard Kurtz that "it's always difficult to cover someone you know personally," a reference to what Mother Jones described as "a golfing friendship" between Schieffer and President George W. Bush that had developed during the 1990s. Mother Jones also noted that Schieffer claimed Bush had been asked "tough questions" in the lead-up to the Iraq War and argued that "the notion that Bush is a Bible-thumping conservative Republican of that ilk is something that's sort of hard to believe" when then-candidate Bush visited the controversial Bob Jones University in 2000 (at the time, the school had a ban on interracial dating in place.)
Schieffer's younger brother, Tom Schieffer, had a long-term business relationship with Bush. He was part of Bush's baseball investment team, investing $1.4 million for a 4.2 percent interest in the Texas Rangers. Tom Schieffer also served as team president of the Rangers from 1991-99. The investment group sold the Rangers in 1998 for $250 million.
The relationship continued after Bush was elected president. Bush appointed Tom Schieffer as U.S. ambassador to Australia, a post he served in from 2001-5. In Bush's second term, Schieffer served as U.S. ambassador to Japan. He served in that post from 2005-9.
In his 2007 book, Reality Show, Howard Kurtz wrote that in the 90s "Bob, a baseball fanatic, had gone to games with [Bush], and they spent time together at spring training." He also notes that "Politics aside, Schieffer considered Bush a great guy."
In other words, actual conflicts of interest existed, and Schieffer's own friendship with Bush and his brother's personal and professional relationship with Bush probably should have precluded Schieffer from hosting that debate.
By comparison, the coordinated Caller-Drudge attack (which appears to be a regular thing now) is little more than an attempt to "work the refs" before the debate, in line with Rush Limbaugh's conspiracy theory that Raddatz will "make sure the balance remains in favor of Biden."
It's a way to make excuses for the Romney campaign should the debate go badly for them, then the conservative media can simply blame it on the media and not the politicians.