US presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz was the grownup journalist this election needs

“Thank you, both of you.”
“Thank you, both of you.”
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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“Thank you very much, both of you,” moderator Martha Raddatz said dryly, as she finally harangued both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into shutting up toward the end of Sunday night’s presidential debate.

In that moment, Raddatz appeared to be channeling American’s great unspoken frustration. While she was smiling, Raddatz’s tone of voice said: ”We are tired. We are grownups, and we are sick of the demeaning national charade this election has become.”

Whether she was cutting off Trump when he went overtime while tossing word salad into thin air, or Clinton when she went overtime repeating leaden talking points, Raddatz seemed like the adult journalist that this campaign has needed all along. “Tell me what your strategy is,” she asked Trump on Syria as his thoughts meandered. “You don’t call that extremely careless?” she asked Clinton of her use of a personal server for her email while she was secretary of state.

Raddatz was cheered by many after the debate.

The Salt Lake City, Utah, native is ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent, the co-host of The Week, and has reported extensively from Iraq and Afghanistan (you can read more about her in the Washington Post and the Wrap). That’s Raddatz in a fighter jet in the photo above.

While Trump supporters were quick to complain that she was harder on him than Clinton, Trump actually had a full minute more talking time.

And Raddatz has proven an equally tough interviewer of both candidates’ running mates. Her September interview with Clinton vice presidential pick Tim Kaine started with her asking about Clinton’s email usage, and specifically whether the American people deserve better. She expressed incredulity that Clinton discerned between classified and unclassified emails, then she hammered him on whether Clinton had actually achieved a “reset” in Russia, adding, offhandedly: “I was just over in that region with US pilots.”

She also interviewed Trump running mate Mike Pence in September, and her first question was why Trump took so long to acknowledge that president Barack Obama was born in the US. And then she didn’t stop asking about it for six minutes as Pence tried to deflect again and again:

Raddatz and co-moderator Anderson Cooper (who also did a commendable job trying to keep the candidates on track) won’t be in charge of steering candidates through the third debate on October 19 in Nevada, Chris Wallace will. He will have big shoes to fill.