Michael Gaynor
Debate moderator Martha Raddatz's still a "jumper" and should not have jumped in to defend Obama administration policy, but I don't know that she covered up the ACORN scandal in 2008
By Michael Gaynor
October 11, 2016

I do not blame Raddatz for a cover up. She was ABC's Chief White House Correspondent, not the head of ABC News, and I connected her with MonCrief without participating in their communications.

When 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said during the second presidential debate that the debate was three on one, he was right.

It was Trump against Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the two moderators, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper, in that the moderators were tougher on Trump than Clinton.

Presidential debates are supposed to be one on one. Moderators are not potted plants, but they are supposed to ask questions and not supposed to elevate themselves from moderators to fact finders or debaters.

CNN's Candy Crowley became notorious during the last of the 2012 presidential debates for making herself a fact finder and finding a "fact" that did not exist.

Had Mitt Romney handled it well, President Obama would have been a one-term president, so moderator overreaching can be decisive.

This year Trump criticized the Obama Administration announcement that Mosul would be attacked in a few weeks.

Instead of leaving any defense of the Obama Administration on that score, Raddatz jumped in and offered plausible, albeit not necessarily persuasive, justifications for what appears to be giving the enemy (ISIS) advance warning.

In doing so, she proved Trump's point about media bias.

Ironically, that was good for Trump.

In 2012 Raddatz moderated the vice presidential debate and her fairness was questioned before the debate. See, for example, "Martha Raddatz Faces Charges Of Bias From Conservative Outlets, As Gwen Ifill Did In 2008" (www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/martha-raddatz-bias-drudge-report_n_1954809.html).

Huffington Post's Michael Calderone wrote:

"On Wednesday, The Drudge Report – which helps drive the conservative media conversation online and on talk radio – prominently linked to a Daily Caller report that President Barack Obama attended Raddatz's 1991 wedding to Julius Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of the president whom he appointed chair of the Federal Communications Commission. The couple divorced in 1997.

"ABC News, where Raddatz is a correspondent, preemptively called the Daily Caller's story 'absurd,' and the Commission on Presidential Debates defended Raddatz shortly after its publication.

"While Raddatz's relationship with Genachowski is widely known and the Romney campaign had no objections to her moderating the debate – before her selection and on Wednesday – conservative media outlets unsurprisingly seized on the new 21-year-old detail, casting doubts on whether she'll be a fair arbiter in the debate.

"'The liberal media/politician/bureaucrat revolving door spins so rapidly, sometimes it's hard to keep pace,' wrote NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield, who added that Raddatz should be replaced.

"'Is it too much to ask of our corrupt media overlords that if the president of the United States was a guest at one of your staffers weddings that maybe that staffer shouldn't moderate a vice presidential debate?' wrote Breitbart's John Nolte."

At the time Genachowski was the father of Raddatz's son, President Obama's Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,and divorced from Raddatz since 1997.

Those details were not reported to viewers and listeners when Raddatz moderated the debate.

After that debate, I wrote an article entitled "The Daily Caller v. Martha Raddatz, Barack and Julius and Moderating Debates" (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=121015) and concluded as follows:

"The day after the debate, Raddatz explained on ABC's 'Good Morning America': '[You] try to listen, and you try to react to what they're saying. Sure, I had a lot of follow-ups written, I had a lot of questions written. But when you're there, you're in the moment, you really have to go with what's happening. So when they were talking to each other, when they were going after each other, you do, you want to step back from that. Yet when I hear things, I think, I gotta jump in there, I gotta jump in.' (www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/10/martha-raddatz-talks-debate-on-gma-138297.html).

"Raddatz is a jumper.

"Peggy Noonan opined: 'Ms. Raddatz acquitted herself admirably, keeping things moving, allowing the candidates to engage, probing. There was a real humanity to her presence. We just saw Jim Lehrer beat up for what was also good work. May her excellence go unpunished.(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443749204578051542621349694.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop).

"Pleasing everyone was impossible.

"No matter what Raddatz did, she was bound to please some and displease others. Liberals were pleased that Raddatz brought up abortion but not that she brought up religious liberty, while conservatives were delighted that religious liberty was brought up but concerned that bringing up abortion might help Obama/Biden sell their War on Women story. Obama/Biden backers wanted Raddatz to skip Benghazigate, but she opened with it (without using that politically chargef word). Romney/Ryan supporters wanted more time on the Obama-Biden record, particularly on jobs, instead of answers to '[I]If you are elected, what could you both give to this country as a man, as a human being, that no one else could?' (The word 'both' didn't belong there, since both of them can't be elected, but the question wasn't as bad as 'If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?') Raddatz asked for detail from both candidates, as a fair moderator should have done. Vice President Biden, an older man, was rude to her as well as Congressman Ryan, and both Raddatz and Ryan let Biden be himself and viewers and listeners decide for themselves. I'm glad they did. Raddatz asked whether abortion supporters should be 'worried' instead of whether pro-lifers should be pleased, but that's not an endorsement of abortion and moderators should be cut some slack in framing questions. Raddatz did not use the 'War on Women' phrase that ardent Obama/Biden supporters would have been thrilled to hear. Politics is the art of the possible, as Bismarck wrote, and moderators, like politicians, should be expected to do what is possible, not what is impossible.

"What is possible is disclosure.

"It's time to abandon the illusion of moderator objectivity. Presidential and vice presidential debate moderators have political opinions, and they are influenced by them, at least subconsciously. Moderators are not apathetic, clueless people, and such people should not be moderators. The solution is to have moderators disclose their political party affiliation, if any; who they voted for in the last presidential election; and whom they intend to vote for at the time of the debate, if they have an intention. That way, viewers and listeners can take that into account and moderators are less likely to be held to an impossible standard."

This year Raddatz came under fire before the second presidential debate.

Neil McCabe of Breitbart News wrote an article titled "Whistleblower: Martha Raddatz Covered Up ACORN Scandal Before 2008 Election" (www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/09/exclusive-whistleblower-martha-raddatz-covered-up-acorn-scandal-before-2008-election/).

McCabe interviewed me for and quoted me in his article and therefore I wish to state for the record that I would have titled the article "ABC News Covered Up ACORN Scandal Before 2008 Election and state for the record that I did NOT "explain[] to Raddatz "the whole story of collusion between ACORN and Project Vote and the Obama campaign." I told Raddatz that Anita MonCrief and Project Vote had received an Obama donor list and referred her to MonCrief for the whole story.

During the 2008 presidential campaign I posted an article titled "Blame Obama's ACORN for the Financial Crisis" (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=080929) on September 29 and followed up with more articles on Obama and ACORN.

A reader named Anita MonCrief (later renamed by me "the ACORN whistleblower") decided to contact me using an alias.

On October 7, 2008, MonCrief emailed me: "I worked at Project Vote and ACORN for years and can provide inside information on the connections with Obama and FEC violations, IRS 501 (c)3 violations and the threats and intimidation that ACORN has used to keep me quiet. I am willing to submit to a polygraph and turn over Obama's 2nd quarter donor list with was obtained by Project Vote Development Director Karyn Gillette directly from the Obama Campaign. I also have a DNC list that was forwarded to Project Vote along with donor lists for Kerry and Clinton."

I immediately emailed back:

"I'm paying attention and looking forward to checking any illuminating material.

"What did Project Vote do with the lists?

"Please identify yourself and provide contact info and proof of your Project Vote and ACORN history. If you have a resume, please send me a copy.

"Please tell me specifically what you can prove as to Obama that the voters should know."

The next day, MonCrief responded:

"I am a little nervous about sending you my resume. I have been black listed by ACORN, fired from my new job for bogus reasons and threatened daily. I turned to you because with whistle blowers, sometimes the media is the best protection. I am not sure how you would protect your sources.

"Project Vote used the list in violation of FEC rules for fundraising. Obama is in very deep with ACORN and Project Vote and I have knowledge of meetings between the campaign and Senior ACORN members."

I immediately emailed back my contact information and invited her to google me.

MonCrief replied:

"David is not my real name, just my alias. I am looking for help and did not know how else to contact you. I did google you and I was happy to see that you are a lawyer. I do have a lot of internal docs for ACORN and Project Vote. I took a call from the Obama campaign while working there and was privy to a meeting where information between the two camps was discussed. I was told by PV that we were working with them and that I was to de-dupe the Obama 2nd Quarter list and get to work contacting donors. We also received help from the DNC, Clinton and Kerry (in 2004). I will take a polygraph and turn over what I have. I am in DC. Obama's camp was contacted by the NYT about the documents and they claim that PV got it online from published document and more questions led to a screaming match between the reporter and the campaign. Two days after that PV began contacting old references and friends in an effort to discredit me. That's why I agreed to the polygraph because I am not lying, they are."

I focused on this part – "Project Vote used the list in violation of FEC rules for fundraising. Obama is in very deep with ACORN and Project Vote and I have knowledge of meetings between the campaign and Senior ACORN members" – and emailed, "The sooner this is demonstrated, the better. If Obama wins, he will appoint the next United States Attorney General.

But I lacked confirmation, so I also emailed:

"I think you are sincere and your information is newsworthy. As an anonymous person with an Internet alias, I can't check you out. You would have to contact me. Time is short. Please call me tonight."

Minutes later, I read this: "Anita MonCrief. Google me. Please do not use my name with anyone until we connect. I also emailed Michelle Malkin but she scares me."

I responded: "I googled that name and hope it's the real you. If it is, you should have plenty to prove that should be publicized. Please call me at or after 9 PM: 631-757-9452. I will be home by then and free to talk."

MonCrief emailed: "I am really terrified. When I say threats and intimidation, I am not kidding. We (my 2 year old) are moving and I have had union pressure to make me be quiet. I am on linked in. If you still have doubts add me and I will confirm you."

I checked Linked In and then emailed:

"One, call me at or after 9 PM.

"Two, and more importantly, email Martha.J. Raddatz@abc.news.com. As you probably know, Martha is ABC's Chief White House correspondent. You can google her if you are unsure about her. I think you'd be more comfortable with her that Laura Ingraham or Stuart Taylor, others to whom I might have referred you. I chose based on what I thought would be best for you. I have NOT told Martha your name, since you wanted it treated confidentially, but I got her permission to have my 'source' email her and her commitment to deal with you totally off the record if that is what you want. Use you alias email account first, but you have documents for Martha to examine, so the two of you are likely to get together and the more you reveal, the more credible you will be. And the sooner, the better."

Neither The New York Times nor ABC reported MonCrief's story.

They should have.

It would not have been helpful to the Obama campaign for MonCrief's inside story to have been told, so I am not surprised that neither did.

Stephanie Strom of The Times left a voice mail for MonCrief to the effect that she had been ordered to "step down" by "higher up," so I do not blame her for her employer spiking the story before Election Day 2008.

Likewise, I do not blame Raddatz for a cover up. She was ABC's Chief White House Correspondent, not the head of ABC News, and I connected her with MonCrief without participating in their comnmunications.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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