Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…

applause-sign

From Mediaite:

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos was forced to apologize today after it was revealed that he donated roughly $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation in the past two years and never, in all his coverage of Clinton Foundation controversies, disclosed it.

[UPDATE: The new figure is $75,000 in the past three years.]

I don’t generally like to take bows, but I had this one pegged, ladies and gentlemen, exactly.

I had it so pegged that my head exploded, remember? I was astounded that this journalist of all journalists would have the cheese to raise an eyebrow and challenge “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer’s credibility and integrity because he had been a Bush speechwriter, when George himself was playing defense for the Clintons as former long-time Clinton insider, staffer and adviser. Now we know that his conflict was far worse: George Stephanopoulos was debating the propriety of the operation of a Foundation he supported and contributed to.

This isn’t a minor conflict of interest. This is a major one, and not to disclose it—it is not credible that George forgot—is disqualifying for a news anchor…easily as disqualifying as Brian Williams’ tall tales.  The Clinton conflict has always been George’s ethical Achilles heel. I have argued in the past that he should be required to withdraw from covering any story in which the Clintons are involved—and that’s a lot of stories. This proves that Stephanopoulos is insufficiently sensitive to his conflicts, which means he is insufficiently sensitive to conflicts, which means he is insufficiently schooled in the ethics of journalism, which means he is not an ethical journalist, which means he is not a trustworthy journalist. ( The increasingly pathetic New York Times wrote that this makes Republicans less likely to trust him. Good lord. So it’s okay for a Democratic journalist to be conflicted and not transparent as long as he’s biased toward Democrats? What has happened to this paper?) At worst, it means that Stephanopoulos is still an agent of the Clintons. I just know I’ve written this before: a news organization that is properly concerned about its integrity and professionalism would fire him. At very least, he has to be suspended.

He won’t be, and I just explained why. The ABC statement: “As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him.” Yes, he’s admitted that he’s a biased, conflicted, dishonest, untrustworthy hack. Can’t wait to see him moderating those debates.

But we’ll have plenty of time for all that.

Meanwhile:

Thank you!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

I’ll be here all week!

48 thoughts on “Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…

  1. Like to see some stuck-up jockey’boy
    Sittin’ on Dan Patch? Make your blood boil?
    Well, I should say.
    Friends, let me tell you what I mean.
    With journalists my friend you got politics.
    Real politics.
    Trouble, oh we got politics,
    Right here in River City!
    With a capital “P”
    That rhymes with “T”
    And that stands for Tool,
    That stands for Tool.
    We’ve surely got trouble!

  2. The ABC statement: “As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply. . . ” They didn’t end the statement with a preposition, so they at least have that going for them. Sheez!

    jvb

  3. Should every news agency have to list all charitable donations by each and every employee, board of directors, etc.? Do we care about the camera man? What about Rupert Murdoch? Or do we only care about those people who are communicating with us?

    • If they are contributing to a politician’s campaign, they should not present themselves as objective and neutral interviewers. Many outlets forbid political contributions by reporters for this reason–the Post’s Len Downey famously refused to vote. Remember MSNBC suspending Keith Olbermann for contributing to the campaigns of two Democrats and not disclosing it?

    • Great job getting the Harry Reid: ‘Rupert Murdoch gave money too!’ talking point/distraction/obfuscation in here, in case others missed it in the MSM.

    • The Clinton Foundation spends only a tiny amount of money on charity. It spends roughly 4 times that amount on “salaries and benefits”. These ‘salaries and benefits’ don’t seem to add up since the charity profile I saw claimed only 8 employees, none of which made more than $100,000/year and the salaries and benefits totaled $37 million. But I am not sure of that, either. A month or so ago, the Clinton Foundation claimed it had ~$90 million in revenue in 2013. However, they lied about that. They claimed that no foreign or domestic government units donated any money AT ALL from 2010-2013 (when Hillary was Secretary of State). They have refiled the financials and they now claim they had $230 million in revenue for 2013. Their filings on their web site say they give 88% to charity, but their tax filings say 10%.

      I also can’t seem to find out exactly what the charity work is. As far as I can tell, they are involved in convincing charities to add another layer of bureaucracy to their organizations. They fund the Clinton Library, the Clinton lecture series, and the Climate Change Initiative. They fund the Clintons giving speeches, the Clintons having lavish parties that bring world business and political leaders together to talk to the Clintons, etc. Charity Navigator refuses to rate them because they don’t meet their definition of a traditional charity.

      So, we have a charity in which we don’t know how much they bring in, how much they spend on charity, and the charity they spend it on stretches the definition of charity. We know took money from people who wanted favors from the Secretary of State and they state ‘you can’t prove that bribe influenced the decision’.

  4. Georgie owes everything to the Clintons; his life, his career and his bank account. He also knows what happens to Clinton proteges who stray from the farmyard!

    • Amen. I bet the “contribution” was preceded by a shakedown call, er, telephone call from someone at the mother ship. Probably Terry McAuliffe.

  5. Cowabunga, Beth!

    “Should every news agency have to list all charitable donations by each and every employee, board of directors, etc.?”

    What??? Do any of those go on television, controlling the questions, time and content of an interview, and either allow a guest to look good, credible and persuasive or make them look devious, unfair or not credible? Nooooo…so what’s the relevance of this question to an undisclosed, money laundered, large contribution showing a direct bias by a news anchor? Zip, Beth. Zip.

    Do we care about the camera man? What about Rupert Murdoch? Or do we only care about those people who are communicating with us?

    Has a camera man ever taken down a candidate, or protected one? Nope. Does Rupert Murdoch present the illusion of political independence and objective reporting? No.

    If you see nothing wrong with George putting his thumb on the scales during the Presidential campaign, should Karl Rove cover Jeb Bush’s run? Why not have James Carville moderate the Democratic debates? Why not Chelsea? Why not Lanny Davis? Why not Monica Lewinsky?

    Oddly, GS’s three 25 grand gifts “to a cause he believes in” occurred as Hillary was gearing up for a run at the White House. Lots of foundations work on poverty and the environment, and use a much higher percentage of donations to those ends. If you give to the Clinton Foundation, the cause you’re supporting is Clinton ambitions. If you’ll support them with your hard-earned cash, why wouldn’t you support them at no cost, by warping your commentary and coverage on morning TV and every Sunday?

    Ridiculous. Could GS be a judge in a case where Hilary was a party? No. Could he be a stenographer? A bailiff? Sure. Why are you spinning for a blatant, undisclosed, unethical journalistic conflict?

    Why is anybody? We shouldn’t tolerate this crap. Neither Democrats nor Republicans should want declared partisans playing the roles of objective reporters. There are objective professionals, fair ones, honest ones, you know. They are not hard to find.

    • I’m not sure what’s wrong with you. I didn’t suggest that George should get a pass. I’m suggesting that perhaps we should get a clearer and perhaps broader test. I don’t know exactly how news agencies work, but I do know that dozens of people can affect how and if a story gets on the air. Yes, George is the mouthpiece, but he doesn’t write his own stories — so, perhaps the people who write content also should be scrutinized — or owners of stations. Or editors. And yes, a camera man! What they choose to record/not record can absolutely shape our views on the world.

      • A cameraman or a news writer don’t present in front of the camera. It should be evident that the way something is presented, with all the tones of voice and facial expressions and the added weight of celebrity and status add to the influence a newsreader brings to bear.
        Bless your heart, I know how hard you work at distraction and redirection but it does get a little predictable.

        • Hmm. Let me use more obvious and smaller words so you get it. “GEORGE IS BAD. MAYBE OTHER PEOPLE ARE BAD TOO.”

          • Then you need to write more clearly. In a forum where “everybody does it” is regularly rejected as a defense of bad conduct, a comment on conflicted journalists that says, and I quote,
            “Do we care about the camera man? What about Rupert Murdoch? Or do we only care about those people who are communicating with us?” is going to be read as,

            “Oh come on! Where does it stop? Why not hairdressers, firemen and pogo stick saleswomen?”

            That’s how I read it, and apparently everyone else. If you were really suggesting that cameramen had to declare their contributions to the Hillary campaign before being allowed to film an ethical reporter quizzing a conservative author about his critical book about the Clinton Foundation—HUH? Why? On what conflicts theory? It makes no sense to me.

            Readers can’t be blamed for assuming that an intelligent commenter was making a popular rationalization rather than an incomprehensible stretch.

            • You are now blaming me because you made assumptions?

              And when I think of journalists having power — well, of course they do Jack! Remember this picture? There is an entire generation in this country that can’t get this image out of their minds — http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/06/01/article-0-136433DA000005DC-963_634x406.jpg
              This was a defining picture about the Vietnam War. Someone decided to take it — camera men/women or any type of photo journalist have immense power. But no, I don’t care about their hair dressers.

              • Come on, Beth. Your statement was clear. In fact, while I’ll take your word for how you say you meant it, I cannot imagine how you did.And you do know a cameraman—you didn’t say photojournalist—isn’t a journalist, I presume. So the Vietnam example is irrelevant to your earlier comment.

      • Beth, I think you’re letting a little tunnel-vision get the best of you here.

        The donations aren’t the actual problem. The donations are just a symptom of the problem.

        The problem is journalism pretending to be objective and ethical when they are not.

        Suppose there were some sort of ABC News-wide policy that “No employee of ABC News shall make any political or charitable donations. Anyone who does will be immediately terminated.” AND that this policy enjoyed 100% compliance by everyone at ABC News from the CEO down to the dishwasher in the cafe on the first floor of the building*.

        None of that stops anyone from slanting the news coverage to some personal advantage in any way.

        The issue of the donations, here and now, is that they not only brought Steph’s conflict of interests to light, but also provided real, physical evidence of same.

        But if we stipulate that he had a personal interest in assisting a friend/colleague/whatever to succeed in politics before he made the donations, then the donations aren’t crucial to the story–which is why Jack correctly flagged the story BEFORE the donations came to light.

        The personal interest is the cause of the donation–not the other way around.

        The problem is that the personal interest creates a conflict of interests. That C-o-I is the reason he should not be anywhere near these stories. Neither should a cameraman who worked for the Clintons. The role of the donations is to put the lie to any protests of “No, I’m really really objective. No conflict here. Honest!”

        –Dwayne

        *…or substitute any other job that you think is the farthest from “News Anchor”.

        • I agree with everything you just said — well, except the tunnel vision part.

          I do think it’s an impossible standard to achieve though. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many stories that can be reported and aired — even assuming that someone can be truly objective. And given that every news station (except NPR) is a for-profit, stories will be chosen in order to drive viewers. (And even NPR needs to do that to drive donations.) Look at Good Morning America — the silliest “news” program on TV. How many stories are about celebrities, feel-good public interest bits, and clothing trends? They pick those segments because market research shows they drive viewers and/or they get a kick-back directly from the merchant. Then there is the blatant promotion of any actor, movie, other ABC show, or artist owned by Disney — since Disney owns the station. How many viewers do you think process that they are being advertised to during a news program? I can identify that the station is unethical even BEFORE I dive into the harder test of whether political motivations are driving certain stories.

          So anyway, while I agree with you — that wasn’t the topic of this post. It was about contributions. I take conflicts very seriously — apparently more so that anyone else here as most of you think they should be limited to the mouthpiece. But because I am suggesting a broader view (btw — that’s the opposite of tunnel vision) — I am accused of distracting away from Georgie boy who I never defended in the first place. And I am the one who is predictable? This blog really is turning into a right of center peanut gallery.

          • Not ‘limited to the mouthpeice’, Jack addressed that with his judge/stenographer comment, what’s important is the amount of influence the person has over the dialogue. GS has control over so many factors in his interviews that in the right circumstance, he could shape the public narrative, a cameraman does not. You want to broaden the lens? You have to go up, not down.

          • PS, I wasn’t going to make a comment on this until you referred to me as part of a right wing peanut gallery.

            The reason people here have a hard time seeing you as anything other than a left wing political hack is because you’ve spent a lot of time building that persona. While you might disown individual democrats who have done something particularly egregious, I cannot think of a single time you’ve done it to the benefit of a Republican, or bucked the party line in any meaningful way. The fact of the matter is that we don’t look at individual comments in a vacuum, your comments stand in a pool of your history, and you have baggage.

            • Try looking for comments where I dress down particular Republicans. I bet you won’t find that either — or at least they are fewer and far between. I usually only attack Democrats to try and avoid the “you’re so liberal attacks.”

  6. I saw a factoid on Facebook (Don’t judge me) That said:

    “Nobody gives money to the Clintons without expecting quid pro quo”
    -George Stephanopoulos to Jon Stewart, April 28, 2015

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/z563oc/george-stephanopoulos (skip to 4:15)

    Now, up here in the land of ice and snow, I can’t get Daily Show clips because Comedy Central has the copyrights in Canada and they’re awful at uploading, could I ask someone to watch this and see if it was taken in proper context?

    • That is NOT what he said. “He even says there is no evidence of direct action … Everybody also knows when those donors give that money … there’s a hope that that’s going to lead to something …” I don’t think the ellipses are hiding anything important. Jon is the one that mentions quid pro quo a little later, and George does point out that if nothing else donors hope to get access which shapes thinking.

    • It’s right there. I think “hoist by his own petard” definitely applies. Beautiful. If you follow what he’s saying to Jon Stewart, Stephanopolis has just said the only reason anyone gives money to the Clintons is to get access to them and hope something good comes of it. Of course, he’d argue giving to the Foundation is not giving to the Clintons.

      • And I’m not sure which adjective best describes Stewart’s performance: unctuous or obsequious. A toss up. Maybe both. Yuck.

  7. Re: Hmm. Let me use more obvious and smaller words so you get it. “GEORGE IS BAD. MAYBE OTHER PEOPLE ARE BAD TOO.”

    I get it. People are bad. Many people are bad. Bad people criticize. The baddest people criticize people Beth likes. They are h8ters. Beth have to destroy all h8ters.

    • I’m sorry, that’s a pretty awful caricature of what she said. Her first comment CAN be interpreted as an everybody does it defense, but I think she’s clarified that she didn’t mean that. It’s not like she’s a professional speechwriter, so I think giving her the benefit of the doubt here is appropriate.

        • “Bless your heart” is about as snide and snotty as it gets. But you’re right! That would be rationalizing my poor behavior by pointing out that you did it first. My bad. I apologize.

          And, for the record, I may engage in sloppy writing but nowhere did I rationalize George’s behavior. And, when I clarified that, you all should have moved on instead of insisting that I did it in the first place. Sheesh.

          • I don’t want to beat a dead horse, Beth, but I swear, still have no idea what you think you were trying to say. “We should vet everybody then!” still seems like a backdoor way to minimize the conflict, essentially #39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?”, or 41. The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is,” and especially 1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.” When the solution to an ethics problem is drawn so broadly as to make it impractical, that’s the same as saying “well, its silly to get upset about what you can’t stop.”

          • So…wyogranny did it too…she did it first…it was sloppy writing…you clarified…nowhere did you rationalize…we should all move on.
            Got it! What political office are you running for?

  8. Just read the AP story that Jack linked to in the UPDATE: line. Short, sweet, and OH MY GAWD. My comments are in bold.

    NEW YORK (AP) — George Stephanopoulos is apologizing to “Good Morning America” viewers for donating $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, saying that was a mistake.

    So far, so good. Why was it a mistake, George?>

    The ABC News anchor said on the air Friday that he should have gone the extra mile to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

    Um, no, this isn’t the appearance of a conflict. This is evidence of a conflict. But maybe I’m just being pedantic . . . unless he really means that he should have gone the extra mile to avoid having his conflict appear in the news. But really, we should only expect that kind of weasel-language from . . .

    He gave the money to the foundation started by his one-time boss, former President Bill Clinton, to help on global AIDS prevention and deforestation. Stephanopoulos worked on Clinton’s 1992 campaign and in the White House.

    . . . from BILL CLINTON. Wait, his “one-time boss”??? It says right there that he worked on the campaign AND in the White House. AND. That’s TWO.

    And . . . correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t someone else named Clinton associate with that foundation running for President? Did the AP reporter not get that THAT is the important part?

    Stephanopoulos rose to the top ranks at ABC over 18 years…

    Um, no, he just one day BAM! had a show. Had he “rose” to those top ranks, he’d have started in the mailroom or something.

    …and worked to establish himself as an independent journalist despite his political background,…

    …by doing what? The AP is stating without evidence that Steph is an independent journalist, when the rebuttable presumption is that he IS NOT, precisely because of his political background. At least give us SOMETHING of a rebuttal.

    …only to see his actions bring that issue back to the fore just as Hillary Rodham Clinton is launching her presidential campaign.

    “only to see his actions” HAHAHAHA. Don’t you mean “only to bring that issue back to the fore himself through his own actions”? No, he’s some sort of passive observer in all this. A victim, dontchaknow. Maybe even a victim of that vast right-wing cons–

    Oh, look, there’s Hillary, mentioned right at the end–and (gasp) she’s running for President.

    And lest we miss the forest for the trees, looking at the story as a whole, the actual news story is that George Stephanopoulos is apologizing, not that he made the donations and how that shows that he is NOT “an independent journalist” at all.

    –Dwayne

    • Okay, this is interesting. WHILE I WAS WRITING MY POST, the AP story in the UPDATE: link changed and expanded. So, for the record, at the time I checked the link, the entire story was JUST the italicized text above, and I quoted it in its entirety for the sake of forestalling accusations of cherry-picking or quoting out of context.

      That’s me, ladies and gentlemen, Dwayne Zechman, shaming the AP into cleaning up it’s act.

      Thank you!

      Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

      I’ll be here all week!I/i>

  9. Anybody remember that ridiculous birth control question he asked at the GOP primary debate? So out of nowhere but it ended up being a prelude to the “war on women” nonsense. I tend to think he did not come up with that on his own…

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