In 2010, after a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 220,000 Haitians and reduced much of the impoverished country to rubble, veteran journalist Judy Woodruff responded to a plea from former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to donate to a much-needed relief fund. She sent in $250.
Today the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia says that act of compassion and charity disqualifies Woodruff from being an impartial moderator and is refusing to debate Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe at a perennial event hosted by the Virginia Bar Association (VBA).
A strategist for the campaign of Glenn Youngkin said Woodruff’s donation, made to the Clinton Foundation in response to the bipartisan request from Clinton and Bush, makes her incapable of refereeing a debate. “We’re just not going to debate two-on-one,” said Jeff Roe.
By refusing to participate, Youngkin is breaking with a 36-year tradition. Every aspiring Virginia governor has participated in the VBA debate since 1985. The political newcomer previously is a former CEO of the investment company Carlyle Group.
The formal name of the organization Woodruff donated to was the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. In the years since Woodruff, who is anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” has moderated several VBA debates for governor and U.S. Senate in the years since. She previously worked at NBC News and CNN and has covered every presidential election since 1976.
Earlier this year she was awarded the inaugural Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity. Peabody, which recognizes excellence in broadcasting, called Woodruff “one of the most trusted broadcast journalists in America” and said she had earned her reputation for delivering “unbiased, fact-based news stories without the hype.”
Sara Just, the executive producer of “NewsHour,” tweeted that the criticism of Woodruff was “outrageous” and that the donation was in response to a bipartisan call from both Clinton and former President George W. Bush for relief assistance. Just also pointed out in her tweet that Woodruff has never donated to any politician or political party.
And it should go without saying, Judy – over the course of her distinguished career – has never donated to a politician or any political party. 2/2See Also
— Sara Just (@sarajust) July 12, 2021
McAuliffe, who in mid-June announced his intention to participate in the bar association debate, along with four others, said the decision showed Youngkin lacked “courage.”
“His refusal to participate in this debate is an insult to Virginians and shows that Glenn knows just how out of step he is with the people of the Commonwealth,” said McAuliffe, who is seeking a second, nonconsecutive term as governor.