The White House described the Sunday event as an "informal reception" hosted by "friends of the president." The event was closed to the media, and reporters trailing the visiting Obama family cooled their heels in an outbuilding, eating guacamole and chips and drinking bottled water.
Comcast Corp. spokeswoman D'Arcy Rudnay said Tuesday: "There's not a lot I can tell you. It was a private event." Rudnay repeated a comment by the White House spokesman that the get-together was not a campaign fund-raiser.
Neither the White House nor Comcast would say how many people attended the reception or what the Robertses served the president. Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, an influential Democrat, was there, but Michelle Obama and the two Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, were not.
About 100 people attended a similarly described informal reception for Obama at the Vineyard home of Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree on Saturday, according to news reports. Sources say the Roberts reception may have been a more intimate affair.
Even though details are not being shared, the Obama reception seems the freshest example of a higher profile that Roberts, head of the nation's largest cable/media company, has assumed since Comcast closed its deal for NBC Universal Inc. earlier this year.
In May, Roberts hosted a Philadelphia fund-raising dinner for the Shoah Foundation of Los Angeles that honored film director Steven Spielberg. Roberts jetted to Lausanne, Switzerland, in early June to participate in NBC's bidding for the U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics. Comcast/NBCU won those rights through 2020 with a stunning bid of more than $4 billion.
Comcast, a company with legislative and regulatory issues teed up in Washington, also seems to be tightening its relations with the Obama administration.
Roberts has joined the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, serving with Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and others.
Cohen - one of the top executives in the cable giant - hosted about 120 people in his Philadelphia home for a fund-raiser attended by Obama, raising $2.5 million in late June for the president's reelection campaign.
Comcast also is heavily promoting a $9.99-a-month discount Internet service for low-income families that it promised as part of its deal for NBCU. Cohen and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama chief of staff, held a news conference in Chicago announcing the service in late May.
Martha's Vineyard has long been a summer destination for New Englanders, New Yorkers, and others of means. Those drawn to its charms include celebrities, entertainers, journalists, lawyers, business executives, and presidents (the Bill Clinton family also frequented the Vineyard).
The Roberts mansion is in the hilly and forested North Shore, in the town of West Tisbury. The area looks out on a chain of small islands in the Vineyard Sound, the Elizabeth Islands, one of which is owned by the Forbes family, according to a local official.
Massachusetts records note that the Roberts property was purchased in 1999 for $12 million and is held in the name of the North Shore Realty Trust. A trustee is Sheldon M. Bonovitz, a Comcast board member who is married to a cousin of Brian Roberts'. Bonovitz also is chairman emeritus of the Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris L.L.P. A local official said it was common knowledge on the North Shore that the Roberts family owned the house.
Along with the beach, the arts, and the exclusive neighbors, Brian and Aileen Roberts may have found something else congenial on Martha's Vineyard: its cable-TV provider. That would be - who else? - Comcast, which serves the market with TV and Internet.
Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez
at 215-854-5897 or firstname.lastname@example.org.