Martha Raddatz Presented Fred Friendly First Amendment Award

By Chris Ariens 

ABC’s Martha Raddatz is presented the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award in New York City

Martha Raddatz has been in worse rooms, in worse countries, on military bases and battlefields.

Today, ABC’s senior foreign affairs correspondent graced the gilded dining room at the 19th century Metropolitan Club on New York’s 5th Avenue and was presented with the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award by Quinnipiac University.

Ruth Friendly, the widow of the legendary CBS newsman for whom the award is named, described Raddatz as “fearless.” The impossibly humble Raddatz said, in fact, she was “filled with fear” as she took the stage.

“The courageous ones are the people I have covered during my career,” said Raddatz accepting the award before a crowd of more than 100 guests, including her ABC News colleagues Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, previous Friendly recipient Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodruff, Terry Moran, David Kerley and Jim Avila.

Raddatz talked about the courage of Staff Sgt. Sal Guinta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. “Sal Guinta does not think he is courageous or a hero. He does not think he did anything that others wouldn’t do in the same situation.”

And the bravery of her own colleagues, “far too many of whom have lost their lives or been badly wounded doing so,” as Raddatz looked toward table four. “And I still can’t be in the same room with

Bob Woodruff without tearing up.”

“I constantly hear the roar about television today — and sometimes I contribute to it. The dismay over the loss of viewers, over what some see as a loss of integrity and over the direction of the news business is taking. I don’t have much patience for complaining without acting.”

Raddatz joked that her stories often “fall in the vegetable category” on the vast news menu of today.

“I am rarely the dessert. But who among us wants to skip dessert, who wants to learn only about the complexities of conflict, but not about the richness and quirkiness of our culture. There is a place for all of that among the meat and potatoes and green beans, as long as the same rules of integrity apply.”

At today’s luncheon, in a former men-only social club founded by Vanderbilts and Rockefellers and Morgans, the menu included a big helping of modesty served up by a forthright war reporter in a world too often filled with the self-important.