When it first became clear that we would almost certainly not have a debate this week, my thoughts immediately went to the debate’s erstwhile moderator, Steve Scully. The 14th of 16 children, it was finally going to be Steve’s moment in the spotlight. And you should all be so lucky to have someone like Steve in your life, as he is one of the two kindest and most generous people that I have met in this town.
So in lieu of a debate, I thought I’d talk to someone about what it’s like to moderate a debate. And who better than the inimitable Ann Compton—the one person who might, in fact, be the most kind and generous person in D.C.
She doesn’t know this, but before I first met Ann, I called a former colleague of hers to get tips on how to impress her and I even planned out my outfit so as to look “casual but put together.” I wanted so badly for this towering journalist not to think I was a total hack. When I finally got to meet her, before I could say anything, she rushed over and said “you must be Sarah” and gave me a big hug. Since that moment, we have had pajama parties, lots of long lunches, and at least one socially distanced “Fauci pouchy” of rosé on her screen porch so she could be the first person to meet the Brisket outside of our house. Ann mentors so many women in this business that I am far from alone in feeling this way toward her.
After 40 years, Ann retired from ABC News in 2014. She covered seven presidents and was a panelist for both a 1988 and 1992 debate. And, boy, does she have stories.