Quotes of the day

Let me be blunt: For George to give money to the Clinton Foundation, out of all possible charities, knowing full well that Hillary was gearing up to run, is a grave error in judgment. For him not to disclose this to his network or to viewers—especially when he was aggressively interviewing “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer about that very foundation—is unthinkable. And for ABC to brush this off as an “honest mistake” is embarrassing.

People already distrust the media as too liberal. A late-in-life journalist who began his career as a prominent Democrat working in the White House faces a special burden to demonstrate his independence. By donating to the Clintons’ family charity and keeping it secret, Stephanopoulos has failed that test

Did it not occur to Stephanopoulos when he was tossing to stories about the foundation, or interviewing Schweizer, that his donations might become public and embarrass him?


ABC News President James Goldston has not addressed whether Stephanopoulos will be disciplined. The network said in a statement Thursday that it stands behind Stephanopoulos and that the anchor made an honest mistake. ABC said Stephanopoulos voluntarily removed himself as a moderator for ABC’s planned coverage of a GOP presidential debate next February.

ABC News’ rules permit charitable donations, but reporters are required to inform management before covering a story related to the organization. Stephanopoulos did not tell his bosses, or viewers, about the donations before interviewing Peter Schweizer on the Sunday public affairs show “This Week” recently. Schweizer is the author of “Clinton Cash,” a book that traces the involvement of organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation…

Schweizer said Friday that Stephanopoulos’ donations “highlight precisely the lack of transparency and cronyism that I report on.”…

“He seemed mostly to have put to rest fears that he would be too partisan to be a serious television journalist and news anchorman, but he couldn’t have given the Republican Party a greater sword to decapitate him,” said Feldstein, who is writing a book on media scandals.


Apparently Stephanopoulos still fails to grasp that there is nothing “extra” about what should have been a common-sense disclosure. What’s more, on GMA Friday morning, he didn’t see fit to mention the sheer size of his donations; no doubt many of his viewers would consider $75,000 real money, even for a television personality reportedly making double-digit millions…

Could Stephanopoulos, who is also ABC News’s chief anchor and political correspondent, be hoping for access to and exclusives from Bill and Hillary, giving him a competitive edge during the 2016 presidential campaign?

It’s a fair question. Even if Stephanopoulos never discussed his contributions to their foundation with the Clintons, as appears to be the case, the Clintons are undoubtedly aware of them. Like all successful politicians, they have a keen eye for, and a long memory of, people who give and don’t give them money.


In 1985, after fifteen great years, I was fired by ABC News. The official reason for my firing was a non-disclosed $200 donation to a family friend running in a non-partisan mayoral campaign in New Bedford Massachusetts…

Now ABC is bending over backward to minimize and forgive George Stephanopoulos’ $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation because he is central to the network’s recent success…

The donations look like he’s trying to buy continued access to the family he served so loyally as a political operative in the 1990’s…

If Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace or Bill O’Reilly made a similar donation to say an educational foundation run by Jeb Bush liberal wolves would be howling in front of Fox News.


Lee said, “Look, the fact is, that we have the wealthy and the well-connected who are controlling the dialogue. And here you have George Stephanopoulos. Now, I want to make clear. I think he’s very interesting to watch, I’ve enjoyed doing interviews with him in the past, and I find him very professional in many ways. But the fact is, Sean, he got his start with the Clintons, a couple decades ago, in a prominent way. And the fact also is, that he has donated to the Clinton Foundation, $25,000 a year, each year, for the last three years in a row, a total of $75,000. And then finally, he caps it off by interviewing Peter Schweizer, the author of ‘Clinton Cash,’ and going after him, really quite aggressively and he does so, notwithstanding the fact that he’s pretty openly a Clinton partisan. He’s somebody who has helped the Clinton Foundation. He’s not in a position of being a neutral arbitrator of the facts, and so I do think this is a concern. And I do think that he shouldn’t be presenting himself to the world as a neutral arbiter of the facts in the presidential election cycle for 2016.”

He added, “I think it certainly has the potential to call into question ABC’s ability to be objective. Look, the thought that kept coming to my mind when I watched that interview between George Stephanopoulos and Peter Schweizer was cross-examination. I felt like Mr. Schweizer was undergoing an aggressive, rigorous, cross-examination, not by someone who was just trying to get to the truth, but by someone who was trying to shoot down everything he could. And in fact, it was interesting Sean, he repeatedly referred to Mr Schweizer’s political connections.”


When the Washington Free Beaconers put their heads together Thursday morning, there was still no comment from ABC News. “I say, ‘Let’s begin to move this story,’” recalls Continetti. The piece wasn’t complicated: A network news anchor had contributed to a charity run by the first family of the Democratic party and hadn’t told viewers when that charity emerged in news coverage. What was complicated was its landing. “Literally as we were about to hit ‘post,’ we are alerted to the Dylan Byers piece that just went up,” says Continetti, who moved to publish their piece without the ABC News statements. Those arrived later…

What could possibly account for the network’s slow-walking approach to the Washington Free Beacon? Absent a response from ABC News, the Erik Wemple Blog would be forced to speculate about how the network perhaps wanted to retain greater control over the story; or speculate about how ABC News has an allergy to working with a conservative news site; or speculate about any number of other things…

Short-sighted would be a compliment for this media strategy. The nub of the Stephanopoulos news was that a top media figure had left a green paper trail of support for the Clinton family’s grand designs. Could he possibly, then, treat Republicans and conservatives with fairness? At the very time that this chatter started circulating, the network’s PR operation was shafting a conservative news outlet by slow-e-mailing its response. Symmetry.


The ABC News spokesperson who rebuffed the Free Beacon’s request for comment on George Stephanopoulos’ undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation also worked in the Clinton administration.

Heather Riley, spokeswoman for ABC News programs Good Morning America and This Week, worked in the White House press office from 1997 to 2000, according to her LinkedIn profile, and is a member of the Facebook group “(Bill) Clinton Administration Alumni.” White House records show that Riley’s duties included serving as a press contact for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton…

It is not the first time Riley has defended ABC News against allegations of favoritism toward the Clintons. When Hillary Clinton appeared on Good Morning America in May 2014—just days after Vanity Fair published Monica Lewinsky’s detailed account of her relationship with President Bill Clinton—host Robin Roberts declined to bring it up in the interview.

Riley denied that ABC News did not mention the Lewinsky essay at the request of the Clintons.


George Stephanopoulos’ connections to the Clinton Foundation may be more substantial than he has so far admitted.

An archived page of the Clinton Global Initiative website lists George Stephanopoulos as a “notable member” for the years 2010 and 2011. ABC News has confirmed Mr. Stephanopoulos was a member during both years…

The Internet archive does not have a cache of the notable CGI members prior to 2010, but according to publicly available sources, Stephanopoulos also participated in CGI events in 2005, in 2006, in 2007 and in 2009. Therefore, it’s possible he was considered a member for every year between 2005-2011, with the possible exception of 2008, when he does not appear to have taken part in any CGI event.


NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting and Thomson Reuters are among more than a dozen media organizations that have made charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, the foundation’s records show.

The donations, which range from the low-thousands to the millions, provide a picture of the media industry’s ties to the Clinton Foundation at a time when one of its most notable personalities, George Stephanopoulos, is under scrutiny for his previously undisclosed $75,000 contribution.

The list also includes mass media groups like Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom, as well a few notable individuals, including Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and largest shareholder of The New York Times Company, and James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. Both Slim and Murdoch have given between $1 million to $5 million, respectively.


NBC’s Brian Williams fell victim to an anti-media backlash for having exaggerated his war reporting and other exploits. Now ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is on the hot seat for having contributed to the Clinton Foundation.

In both instances — unintended breaches of professional decorum — the furor vastly outweighs the crime. Human error becomes high scandal. Personal lapses become an overarching and apparently devastating indictment of the fundamental corruption of modern media…

Stephanopoulos’ contribution to the Clinton Foundation might create a perception issue for a journalist covering the race — although, reasonably, this puts the charity in his debt rather than the other way around. Perhaps something to weigh. But all of a sudden, it is the stuff of potentially career-ruining demonization. Indeed, the splitting of such ethical hairs is one of the leading stories of the day in the view of not merely the Internet but TheNew York Times, which also is constantly pilloried for the least deviation from some undefined standard of correctness.

The Times, like most other media outlets in high dudgeon over the Stephanopoulos contribution, does not seem to understand that this is not really a story about Stephanopoulos, but about the larger war against the media, mostly being fought by the media itself.


“We’ve made the decision that he’s too close to the Clintons to really give an objective interview,” Paul told Hannity. “And I don’t mean that to be mean, it just is what it is.”