Try to Guess Martha Raddatz's Political Leanings from this Interview
In my book on media bias I write a section entitled "Open and Transparent, but That was Just a Lie." The title refers to the behavior of journalists--specifically, how secretive they are about their political views. I contrast them to politicians, who are very open about their views.
The section begins with an anecdote about Martha Raddatz, who will be the moderator for Thursday night's vice-presidential debate:
As I mentioned earlier, a few years ago ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. A call-in viewer asked a pointed question:
CSPAN viewer: I would like to know if your guest this morning—if she is a Republican, Democrat, or Independent?
Raddatz: We don’t talk about those things. We don’t talk about those things at all. I’m an objective reporter. Uhh, we can’t, uhh. We don’t really talk about that. I wouldn’t talk about that. I’d like you to find a reporter that does.
CSPAN viewer: Well, you notice that when we call this program, which is greatly appreciated, I think, by many, many, curious people about the news, we have to state whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent. And I think it is a little disingenuous that you would suggest that you are totally unbiased, or that if you were Democratic that you could not be objective, or if you were Republican you couldn’t be objective. So could you tell me the last time that you voted for a Republican?
Raddatz: I’m not going to tell you anything about how I vote, when I vote, and who I have ever voted for. I am here as a journalist. I’m not here as a political representative of either party. I am a journalist. And that is my job, to try to maintain objectivity. It is not… I’m not calling in on a call show to tell you what party I belong to. I’m a journalist.
Now try to imagine Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or John Boehner saying something like that. Suppose, for instance, they were asked, “How do you stand on partial-birth abortion?”, and suppose they answered, “I’m not going to tell you anything about my position on that issue. If I did, it would compromise my ability as an objective lawmaker.”
Voters would laugh at such a response. And they would soon oust them from office.
Journalists, in contrast, are very secretive about their views, as well as those of their colleagues. Responses like Raddatz’s are common. For instance, when I asked Rebecca Trounson—the Los Angeles Times reporter I interviewed in Chapter 6—about her political views, she similarly refused to answer.
Such secretiveness has become something of an institutional norm among journalists. Meanwhile, a contrasting norm of transparency exists among politicians.
As I document in the book, the typical mainstream newsroom votes about 93-7 for the Democrat in a typical presidential election. Given that fact and the above anecdote, I’d bet my life savings that Raddatz usually votes Democratic.
Here is a video of Peter Robinson and me, discussing the norms of secrecy among journalists. (The relevant part begins at 18:56.)
Here's the C-SPAN video of Martha Raddatz. I think it's fair to say that she literally (and figuratively) squirms when asked about her political views. (The relevant part begins at the 34:20 mark.)
Today the Daily Caller reports new evidence supporting my betting stance: President Obama seems to have attended Raddatz's wedding in 1991.