The quick-thinking and even-quicker-talking MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow might seem like the obvious choice for a Democratic presidential debate, but unfortunately for her many fans, Maddow will not be moderating Saturday night's debate. The event will air on ABC, a competing network. Instead, two of ABC News' heavy-hitters are taking up the podium. World News Tonight anchor David Muir and ABC chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz will co-moderate. The debate will be held in New Hampshire, the second state to hold a primary next year (on Tuesday, Feb. 9). The event will take place at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.
If you've heard Maddow's name connected to the three remaining Democrats lately, that's because she was the host of an unofficial forum in November in South Carolina. The First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum wasn't endorsed by the Democratic National Committee, but instead 13 Democratic parties from Southern states. Maddow received glowing reviews for her performance there. Poynter MediaWire's James Warren said that she pushed without being a bully, and left the snark at home. "She proved to be the primary reason this was a more satisfying and revealing session than the previous debates of both parties," Warren said, later going on to criticize the multiple-moderator formats that have been popular with both parties thus far.
Maddow would never have been ABC's choice this time, given that she works for MSNBC. Raddatz and Muir, however, might not have been the network's first choice. George Stephanopoulos would have been the obvious pick, given that he serves as ABC News' chief anchor and chief political correspondent. But there's the matter of the controversy surrounding his Clinton Foundation donations.
Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to the Foundation over the course of 2012, 2013, and 2014, and didn't disclose that on air before covering the group's work in a segment. He later apologized and recused himself from moderating any debates this year. ABC stood with him at the time, calling his omission an "honest mistake." But their decision to go with Muir and Raddatz makes sense.
Raddatz also has experience moderating. In 2012, she moderated the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan. She was lauded at the time for taking charge of the debate and asking pointed, challenging questions. Tune in to see if she (and Muir) can do as well as Maddow did in November. After the messiness of the Republican debate, it will be a nice change of pace.