A few weeks ago I flew out to my parents’ place to look after their dog while they were out of town. Before they left, my dad was watching George Stephanopoulos grill “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer (who handled himself quite well, all things considered). I told my dad that it irritated me that guys like Mr. Schwizer don’t call out Mr. Stephanopoulos out on his close ties to the Clintons (George was Bill’s campaign manager) because young voters and your run-of-the-mill ABC News viewer is not familiar with such details.
Yesterday my rant became moot. The Washington Free Beacon revealed that Mr. Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to The Clinton Foundation. When the Beacon asked ABC for comment, the network then ran to Politico to make it look like it was out in front of the story.
Politico reported Thursday:
Former Clintonland insider George Stephanopoulos, who has excelled at both politics and journalism, appears to have failed both professions with a single transgression.
As my POLITICO colleague Dylan Byers reported today, ABC News’ “This Week” and “Good Morning America” host Stephanopoulos has donated a total of $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, something he had not previously disclosed to viewers or his employers. In a statement to Byers, Stephanopoulos apologized for not disclosing the gifts. ABC News called the oversight an “honest mistake,” a sentiment Stephanopoulos amplified in an afternoon interview with Byers. …
In shelling out $75,000 to the politically identified Clinton Foundation, Stephanopoulos has […] torched the journalism-cred he has acquired in the past two decades, and obviously forgotten the lessons in political savvy he learned as a member of Bill Clinton’s inner circle. He knew going into ABC News that his reporting and his personal actions would be extra scrutinized for bias. I find it implausible that he did not understand in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (the years he gave the Clinton Foundation cash), that his contributions would be an issue with his employers and his viewers once discovered—even if they were just sitting there buried on a website for anyone to stumble upon.
Something like this used to be a big deal. ABC’s host is seen by millions of people. He professes to be a fair and impartial journalist. His failure to disclose $75,000 in donations to The Clinton Foundation — prior to roasting a critic of The Clinton Foundation — is not an “honest mistake.” There should be repercussions, but yet it appears ABC is reluctant to hold its talent accountable for his behavior.
Here is an excerpt from Mr. Stehanopoulous’ apology, which The Daily Beast rightly called “a passive-aggressive non-apology”:
Those donations were a matter of public record, but I should have made additional disclosures on air when I covered the foundation, and I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake. Even though I made them strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children, and protect the environment in poor countries, I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.”
Indeed, George’s donations were all public record — for all those casual ABC viewers who dabble in investigative journalism in their spare time. According to George, it is also not about journalistic integrity anyway because it’s really about “children,” AIDs victims, the environment, and poor people.
The story only gets better, because it turns out the producer who tried to do an end-around the Washington Free Beacon — Heather Riley — also worked for the Clintons. Do you still think the media isn’t biased? I hope not.
On April 17, I wrote on the “Rings” of Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is a professionally incestuous city that I’m happy to have left behind one year ago (I work remotely from my secret underground bunker these days). Regardless, the point is that George Stephanopoulos is in many of the “right” rings and will therefore have very powerful people working overtime to protect his career. If he survives professionally at ABC, then it is incumbent upon future guests to remind viewers about this scandal when appropriate.
If ABC had its way, then it would keep millions of viewers in the dark to a very damning fact: its star talent, which is covering Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, wants desperately for her to be elected.