The campaign to intimidate ABC reporter Martha Raddatz, who will moderate the October 11 vice presidential debate, is being led by a news organization that has received considerable financial backing from a wealthy donor who has spent millions of dollars trying to defeat President Obama.
Raddatz has come under fire from the right-wing media machine since the conservative Daily Caller reported that Obama attended her wedding in 1991 as a guest of the groom, Julius Genachowski, a Harvard Law School classmate of the president. Raddatz and Genachowski divorced in 1997.
After the Daily Caller reported on Obama's attendance at the wedding, the conservative media echo chamber pounced, touting the Daily Caller piece and working the refs by insinuating that Obama's attendance at a wedding more than 20 years ago would give Vice President Joe Biden an unfair advantage during the VP debate.
But one of the key financial backers of the Daily Caller has also been deeply engaged in raising money to elect a Republican to the White House.
As reported by Politico's Dylan Byers, the Daily Caller launched after receiving $3 million in seed money from businessman Foster Friess. Friess reportedly was “absolutely thrilled” with the Daily Caller's reporting and invested an additional $500,000 in the Caller in early 2012.
At the same time Friess was increasing his investment in the Daily Caller, he was also providing financial backing in the Republican primary election, specifically backing the candidacy of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
But Friess's efforts to elect a Republican to the White House did not end with Santorum's departure from the race. An April Politico article headlined "Foster Friess, Santorum's millionaire backer, swings to Romney," reported that after Santorum suspended his campaign Friess said that he was “obviously going to be of help in whatever way I can.”
And help he has. ABC News reported that Friess and his wife contributed more than $150,000 to the Romney-RNC Victory Fund. Friess also gave $100,000 to the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future Super PAC. According to CNN.com, Friess also signaled that he would make additional donations that would not require him to disclose the contribution, including to groups backed by Karl Rove:
Friess said he has decided his financial donations in the future will mostly be to groups that do not have to disclose their donors. He said he is planning on contributing to five or six so-called 501(c)(4) groups named after the section of the tax code they are organized under. These are nonprofit organizations that can advocate on behalf of social welfare causes or to further the community. He refused to discuss which groups, but did say one recipient could be an affiliate of American Crossroads, the group founded by Karl Rove.
In comments captured by Think Progress in June, Friess also acknowledged that he was encouraging other donors to contribute to Romney's campaign:
I've reached out to a number of potential donors who aren't involved so much before to help Governor Romney with his Restore Our Future PAC and to try to encourage some of the same things for Governor Romney as I did for Rick Santorum.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Media Matters' Founder and Chairman of the Board David Brock has founded and serves as Chairman of American Bridge 21st Century, a 527 “superPAC” unaffiliated with Media Matters.