ABC News scrambles to downplay Obama’s attendance at VP debate moderator’s wedding
President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.
After TheDC made preliminary inquiries Monday to confirm Obama’s attendance at the wedding, ABC leaked a pre-emptive statement to news outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast Tuesday, revealing what may have been internal network pressure felt just days before Raddatz was scheduled to moderate the one and only vice-presidential debate Thursday night.
Both Politico and The Daily Beast jumped to ABC and Raddatz’s defense. The Huffington Post, a liberal news outlet, joined them shortly thereafter, while calling “unusual” ABC’s attempt to kill the story before it gained wide circulation.
Genachowski — called “Jay” at the time of his wedding, sources told TheDC — and Raddatz would go on to have a son together before their divorce in 1997. They have both since remarried to other people.
A source who attended the 1991 wedding told TheDC that Obama was also a guest there, and remembered that a man by the name of “Barry Obama” was among the guests dancing at the reception. (RELATED: Marital, personal ties link Obama administration to Commission on Presidential Debates)
In August, The Daily Caller first connected Genachowski, an Obama appointee, to Raddatz following her selection as the vice presidential debate moderator by the left-leaning Commission on Presidential Debates. That debate, between Congressman Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden, will take place Thursday night at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Carol Platt Liebau, a political commentator who was a Harvard Law Review colleague of Genachowski and Obama, wrote that “despite being a year below both men on the Review and not close personal friends with either of them,” she remembered Genachowski and Raddatz’s relationship as “quite public” during those days, and that “Raddatz visited Boston frequently.”
Genachowski’s friendship with Obama would continue through the campaign trail in 2008 and into the White House: He aggressively fundraised for Obama in 2008 as a campaign bundler, and served on the presidential transition team before winning his appointment to chair the FCC.
On Monday evening ABC spokesman David Ford grudgingly confirmed Obama’s attendance at the wedding, after shielding Raddatz in August by declining to comment when The Daily Caller first reported the story.
“This is absurd,” Ford said, in the same statement now circulated by ABC’s media allies on the left.
Obama, Ford wrote, “attended their wedding over two decades ago along with nearly the entire Law Review, many of whom went onto successful careers, including some in the Bush administration,” he said without providing a specific number of Harvard Law Review members to verify the statement.
When pressed further on Tuesday for a specific number of Harvard Law Review members in attendance at the wedding, Ford could offer none, despite circulating the same unverified approximation through sympathetic media outlets earlier that day in order to discredit The Daily Caller’s reporting.
Ford also could not provide The Daily Caller with a specific number of Harvard Law Review members who worked with Obama and Genachowski during that year. A photo taken of the Harvard Law Review during Obama and Genachowski’s final year of law school contains 70 people.
The ABC spokesman’s assertion that “nearly the entire Law Review” attended the wedding cast doubt on the significance of Obama’s attendance. But Ford’s unwillingness to document that claim now suggests that Obama was among a close circle of fewer Harvard classmates who were personal friends of Raddatz and Genachowski.
Instead, Ford maintained his ambiguity in subsequent statements to The Daily Caller, identifying only one other Harvard Law Review classmate of Obama and Genachowski who attended the wedding.
When TheDC asked Ford via email Tuesday night for further specifics on actual numbers, he did not respond with any.
The FCC, the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign also did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
David Martosko contributed reporting.
UPDATE: Michael Steel, a spokesman for Paul Ryan, told Fox News’ Joy Lin that he has “no concerns” about Raddatz’s conflict of interest.