Remembering Geraldine Ferraro Up Front and Personal

By George Archibald

As the late Geraldine A. Ferraro was buried March 31 in New York state,  which she represented in Congress for three terms and as the first and only  woman ever nominated to run on a national ticket for vice president of the  United States, my own personal memories are bittersweet.  I was The Washington Times investigative reporter who broke the story on July  20, 1984, the day after Ferraro was chosen as Democratic presidential challenger  Walter F. Mondale’s running-mate, that started derailing her run against  re-election of the Reagan-Bush Republican ticket.

In my book, Journalism Is War, the chapter titled “Skunk at Geraldine Ferraro’s  Party” is about the Times’ exposé of a Manhattan business involving Ferraro and  her husband, John Zaccaro, that she did not disclose on her financial ethics  reports because it involved controversial parking lot ownership and even  production of pornographic magazines and films.
Eleven years after my stories, in the summer of 1995, when we both attended the  United Nations Fifth World Women’s Conference in Beijing, China, where Ferraro  was co-chair of the U.S. delegation with Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright,  I told Ferraro I was sorry that journalism like this hurts innocent family  members of the person in the news.  She nicely told me she harbored no ill will towards me or the paper.  “Stop calling me Mrs. Ferraro,” she said. “Call me Gerry. Look, you had to do  what you had to do,” she laughingly told me.  “We’re a tough bunch. Don’t worry  about us.”

And tough she was.  In her own book published in 1985, Ferraro: My Story,” she  recounted the firestorm caused by the story and how the Mondale-Ferraro campaign  spent the next several weeks in battle mode to undo the damage, all culminating  in a massive press conference in Queens attended by all major news  organizations, who filled a rented warehouse.
Ferraro wrote in the book:  “Backstage the tension was palpable. Everybody — my  staff, the attorneys, my son — was a nervous wreck.”  There were microphone  difficulties and technicians scurried to get the box working that all the news  organizations plugged their microphones into.

“After ten interminable minutes, the technicians came in and said they still  couldn’t fix the mult box. ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘Set up all the microphones instead  and let’s go. … I want the American public to see what I am going through.’ “For the next ninety minutes I answered every question imaginable into the  forest of microphones in front of me. I didn’t think about anything except  hearing the press out. And answering their questions until they got tired of  asking. I tried to call on everybody at least once, but one young man from the  Washington Times, an ultraconservative paper owned by Sun Myung Moon, kept  popping up no matter who I pointed to.
‘Let me get to everybody once and I’ll come back to you,’ I said to him. But  still he kept jumping up and down, attempting to grab the spotlight.”

No, I was just trying to get a full and truthful story instead of all the PR  flim-flammery that Gerry was dishing up. We all know how that works in the  political world.

But the ultimate impact of the story was that President Reagan and Vice  President George H.W. Bush won the 1984 re-election in a landslide, Mondale went  back to the U.S. Senate for the state of Minnesota, and Gerry Ferraro went on to  become President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human  Rights amid two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate.

In the last and perhaps most rewarding period of her life, Ferraro was a feisty  advocate for liberal-left causes as co-host of CNN’s popular Crossfire program  and as a popular contributor for Fox News Channel.

Ferraro, as a politician newsmaker, gave this writer a huge leg up in his own  career as a scandal target, yet I shall always remember and revere her as one of  the strongest, most sincerely committed, courageous, and likeable advocates on  heartfelt liberal causes that this man she called an “ultraconservative” has
ever known.

George Archibald, former 21-year senior investigative reporter and four-time  Pulitzer Prize nominee at The Washington Times, lives in Berryville, Virginia.


  1. The 1984 election was the first occasion in modern times when a candidate for prez had to fight off claims that he was not religious enough – which Mondale had to do. This was the election where the theocratic right pushed the scam that God was their running mate. This was the election where the new right – the Moral Majority” and the Falwell/Tim LaHaye crowd in unison with the Republican party – put into practice the tactic of claiming only they were the only ones who were properly religious and everyone else was an atheistic commie. So, maybe she didn’t want to call on you so she wouldn’t give more creds to the WT which pushed these people. The WT is also a paper Moon personally bragged about using as an intelligence asset and to “influence” America along with his “other activities.”

    The easiest way to get a primer on the paper Mr. Archibald worked for is to watch this panel of very conservative former editors of Moon’s papers.

  2. Interesting – and very well written, and I particularly enjoyed the big hearted ending, hope you’re still with the Washington Times, with the recent relaunch, they could do with someone like you.

  3. The question to ask is why did she later speak at one of Moon’s front group events?

    Of course we know people are fed a diet of Moon bs about these groups just being a about peace or some nonsense and not told the truth that they are integral to Moon’s plot. But why would any democrat support Moon’s anti-everything-they-stand-for movement? Even after the WP revealed the memo Moon operative, Gary Jarmin, wrote explaining how they would get a few dems to attend Moon front group events to supply cover for the Republicans. He said it would shut up the dems if any of them wanted to make Republicans working with Moon’s theocratic, unified world under Moon’s ideology centered in Korea movement an issue.

    The tactic has worked beautifully. Maybe what? One in a thousand Americans has any clue who outspent anyone propping up and molding right wing thought in American over the last 30 years? This is the same Moon who says he is God incarnate, speaks for God and that Jesus now serves his dead son in the Spiritworld. Moon’s living son says Jesus and all past saints and sages bow before Sun Myung Moon.

    This is the same Moon whose stated goal is the “natural subjugation of the American government and population”(US News and WR 1989) and wants to end what he calls “American style democracy.”(see “Investigation of Korean-American Relations (U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, Oct. 31 1978” )

  4. When Walter Mondale ran for president in 1984, he did so as a former Vice President, holding no elective office and therefore did not return then or ever to the Senate or any other elective office.