President Barack Obama attended the wedding of the correspondent who will be the moderator for the only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential hopeful Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) which takes place tonight. Martha Raddatz, ABC Foreign Affairs senior correspondent and tonight’s debate moderator, married Julius Genachowski, in 1991. Genachowski was a few years behind President Barack Obama at Columbia University, and they were both officers of the elite Harvard Law Review. Both graduated in 1991, the same year Raddatz and Genachowski married.
Genachowski, from Great Neck, New York, was appointed in 2009 by President Obama to be the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is an independent agency of the U.S. government, which regulates communications capabilities in North America. Genachowski’s parents are Holocaust survivors. His cousin is Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division, and a well-known scholar and student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.
In what has been described by some as a lame effort to downplay the significance of the connection between Raddatz and Obama, David Ford, spokesperson for Raddatz’s employer, ABC News, sent an official statement to various media including Politico and the Daily Beast, even before the article appeared which questioned the propriety of Raddatz as moderator. Even the liberal Huffington Post questioned the propriety of the pre-emptive statement which claimed that “nearly the entire [Harvard] Law Review” attended the wedding of Raddatz and Genachowski. When pressed by the Daily Caller, which broke the story, to name additional law review members who attended the marriage, Ford came up with only one other name.
The ABC statement was apparently prompted by calls from the conservative news outlet, seeking confirmation of the connection between Obama and Raddatz. That release states:
Martha Raddatz is known for her tough, fair reporting, which is why it was no surprise to her colleagues inside and outside ABC News that she was chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates for this assignment. Barack Obama was a law school classmate of Raddatz’s ex-husband Julius Genachowski at Harvard. At the time Barack Obama was a student and president of the Law Review. He 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. Raddatz and Mr. Genachowski divorced in 1997 and both are now remarried.
After an initial story dismissing the Daily Caller‘s suggestion that Raddatz may be biased, or that, at the very least, the connection should have been disclosed, Politico‘s Katie Glueck did a follow-up article, headlined “Right defends Raddatz’ debate role.” Glueck went through a litany of conservative pundits who were unmoved by the suggestion that Raddatz might be an inappropriate choice as moderator simply because Obama attended her wedding some twenty-odd years ago.
Among the conservatives whom Glueck catalogues as certifying the issue as not-an-issue, Commentary‘s John Podhoretz had the best line, “I have no memory of who attended my 1997 wedding to my ex-wife and I’d like to keep it that way. I bet Martha Raddatz is the same.” Others who expressed disinterest included the Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin. Despite the title of the Politico follow-up, at least as many conservatives were mentioned as bothered by the connection and the lack of disclosure, as those who took a pass.
Absent from the Politico articles, and indeed all other commentaries other than that of the Daily Caller, is the failure to call ABC on its clearly from-the-hip, and outright wrong statement that “nearly the entire Law Review” attended the Raddatz-Genachowski marriage. In fact, out of approximately 70 members of that year’s Harvard Law Review membership, only Barack Obama and one other, thus far unnamed, member was apparently at that wedding. That doesn’t make the selection of Raddatz wrong, but it does make ABC’s efforts to downplay it, and everyone’s willingness to ignore the the inaccuracy of the statement, raise at least an eyebrow.
Greta Van Sustern of Fox News, reported that the Ryan campaign said “no” when asked the day before the debate about whether they were concerned that Raddatz would be biased because of the long-time connection between Raddatz and Obama.
Instead, when asked what he thinks Biden’s biggest weakness will be at the debate, Ryan said: “Barack Obama’s record.”
Raddatz and Genachowski have a son, Jake Genachowski, who is a sophomore at Kenyon College. The couple divorced in 1997, and both are re-married, Raddatz to NPR’s Tom Gjelten, and Genachowski to Rachel Goslins. Goslins is also a 2009 Obama appointee to a U.S. government position, she is the Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which is an advisory committee.
The vice presidential debate takes place tonight at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, just south of Lexington, from 9 – 10:30 pm Eastern Time. The debate will cover both foreign and domestic policy issues and will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. It will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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