9 Things You Need To Know About Moderator Martha Raddatz

The story behind the Chamillionaire ringtone, and more.

1. She’s been to Iraq 21 times.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

As a foreign affairs correspondent for ABC, she’s covered the Middle East extensively — she’s been to Afghanistan many times as well. Paul Ryan praised her work in Afghanistan during the debate, noting, “You’ve been there more than the two of us combined.”

2. She broke the story of the killing of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In 2006, Raddatz got a tip while on vacation that the Iraqi terrorist leader had been killed. That allowed ABC to break the story of his death. Raddatz has also reported on a number of other major events in Middle East politics, including the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the assassination of Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin (she won an Overseas Press Club Award in 1996 for her live coverage of the latter).

3. She’s one of just three women to moderate a debate in the presidential election.

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Gwen Ifill (above), and Judy Woodruff have moderated vice presidential debates. So far, ABC’s Carole Simpson has been the only woman to moderate a presidential debate. Next week, CNN’s Candy Crowley will become the second.

4. She’s a bestselling author.

Her 2007 book The Long Road Home told the story of a firefight in Sadr City, Iraq, and its effect on the families of the American soldiers involved. It was a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller.

5. Barack Obama went to her wedding in 1991.

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Obama was a law-school classmate of Raddatz’s second husband, Julius Genachowski, and he attended their wedding. Raddatz and Genachowski divorced in 1997; she’s now married to NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten. An ABC spokesperson called the suggestion that this might bias Rabbatz “absurd”; Ryan campaign spokesman Michael Steel also said the campaign was not concerned about the association.

6. Her ringtone gaffe happened in front of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

Last night, Raddatz referenced an incident in which her phone rang during a White House briefing, playing Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’.” That was a 2007 briefing with Bush administration press secretary Tony Snow, who responded, “Does Martha have a hip-hop ring tone? Play that funky music, white girl.”

7. Chamillionaire loves her now.

9. And one columnist called her a “schoolmarm.”

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Daily Beast/Newsweek Washington bureau chief Howard Kurtz wrote this morning, “she could be a stern schoolmarm: ‘I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we’ve gone over this quite enough.’ You could imagine her ready to rap knuckles with a ruler.” He also wrote that “what mattered wasn’t Raddatz’s gender but her determination,” but apparently he couldn’t help but associate a woman’s tough questions with knuckle-rapping punishment.

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