While you’re probably familiar with upcoming presidential debate co-anchor Anderson Cooper, you may not know as much about his October 9 broadcast partner, Martha Raddatz, an ABC News veteran who seems eager to press both candidates on issues that went unexplored during their first face-off in September.
Before the fireworks start, we’ve unpacked some facts about Raddatz, from her seat on a bombing mission to being mortified at a very un-presidential ringtone going off in the White House briefing room.
1. SHE WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH ROSEANNE BARR.
Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1953, Martha Raddatz attended East Lake High in Salt Lake City, Utah and attended class with Roseanne Barr. While Raddatz earned her diploma in 1971, Barr opted out of further education to pursue a career in comedy.
2. SHE’S A COLLEGE DROPOUT.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Raddatz attended the University of Utah near her childhood home in Salt Lake without much of an idea of what she wanted to do for a living. When a job position opened up at nearby television affiliate KTVX, Raddatz opted to drop out of college during her senior year. While she later described the decision as “stupid,” Raddatz was able to move up from menial tasks to shooting her own stories, eventually becoming an on-camera presence by the age of 24.
3. SHE’S BEEN TO IRAQ MORE THAN 20 TIMES.
Raddatz worked her way up to positions at an ABC affiliate in Boston and at National Public Radio before becoming ABC's chief White House correspondent in 2005. Uncomfortable remaining in the press corps in Washington, Raddatz insisted on traveling to Iraq multiple times in order to gain a better understanding of how the war was affecting the area. Military officials cited her determination to return to those troubled hot spots as one reason they respected her reporting; Raddatz later compiled some of her experiences in Iraq into a book, The Long Road Home.
4. SHE TOOK PART IN A BOMB-DROPPING MISSION.
Eager to experience the rigors of combat firsthand, Raddatz spent years trying to convince the U.S. military to allow her to fly along on a bombing raid. She finally got her wish: Raddatz was inside an F-15E when it was loaded with explosive devices weighing more than 500 pounds each.
5. BUT THAT WASN’T THE MOST DANGEROUS THING.
Crossing a river in Jalalabad near Afghanistan, Raddatz hitched a ride on a makeshift inflatable raft steered by an eight-year-old local. It was the only path that would get her near an area that was once home to Osama bin Laden.
6. SHE TOLD HER SON ONE OF HISTORY’S BIGGEST SECRETS.
Raddatz’s globetrotting has had one undesirable side effect: it has proven worrisome to her kids, including her son Jake, who grew concerned for her mother’s safety whenever she was about to travel. In 2011, Raddatz was headed for Kabul when she received word that the U.S. government had located and killed Osama bin Laden. Calling Jake to tell him she wouldn’t be making the trip, she then had to tell him why: he was sworn to secrecy until the president announced it on television later that day.
7. SHE USED CHAMILLIONAIRE’S “RIDIN’ DIRTY” AS A RINGTONE.
During her time as a White House correspondent, Raddatz often had trouble hearing incoming calls or messages on her cell phone—press gatherings are frequently busy, crowded, and noisy. To allow her to acknowledge important incoming calls, she asked Jake to program a loud ringtone into her cell. He chose Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty.” In a 2007 White House briefing, it went off in her purse, and she had to scramble to turn it off.
When Chamillionaire heard the story, he was pleased, "Can't lie," he tweeted. "That just made my night. Appreciate it. @MarthaRaddatz Keep it gangsta.”