That comes from Conn Carroll, formally White House correspondent for our sister site Townhall and currently communications director for the junior senator from Utah. ABC News’s Election 2016 coverage can tolerate a boycott by a single senator, even one as influential on the right as Lee. Can it tolerate a domino effect among the rest of the GOP field, where Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the gang all feel compelled by pressure from conservatives to follow Lee’s lead?
Actually, why would there need to be pressure from conservatives to make them boycott ABC? It’s in their own political interest not to be interviewed by people who can’t be bothered to disclose their donations to the Clinton family slush fund while aggressively defending it on the air in the course of “reporting.”
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) May 14, 2015
Rand Paul’s already halfway there:
Rand Paul is the first Republican presidential candidate to say George Stephanopoulos shouldn’t moderate the 2016 debates after it was revealed the ABC anchor donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation.
“It’s impossible to divorce yourself from that, even if you try,” the Kentucky senator told the New York Times in an interview. “I just think it’s really, really hard because he’s been there, so close to them, that there would be a conflict of interest if he tried to be a moderator of any sort.”
Good for Rand, but calling on Stephanopoulos not to moderate the debates is easy. Of course a former Clinton employee should have no influence over the GOP nomination when Hillary Clinton’s over on the other side of the field, waiting for her opponent. Even without Steph chipping in to the slush fund that’s a no-brainer, especially after his dubious contribution to the Republican race last time. I’ll be surprised if 24 hours pass before the RNC issues an ultimatum to ABC to exclude Stephanopoulos from the panel if it wants to host a GOP debate this year. Wouldn’t be the first time either that Reince Priebus has threatened a network that’s too soft on Hillary with a loss of Republican campaign events. It’s an easy way to make righties happy. The only question is whether booting Stephanopoulos from the debates is enough or whether the GOP field should go the full Mike Lee route and cut off ABC. The network’s not going to pull the anchor of their Sunday morning talk show from the 2016 campaign entirely, so if Republicans follow Lee, they’d better be ready to stick to the boycott.
Exit question via Andrew Stiles, who broke this story: What did Stephanopoulos mean when he acknowledged recently that donors to the Clinton Foundation typically expect something in return for their donations? Has Steph, perchance, heard from anyone at Team Hillary about a White House job if and when she’s elected? He must have a good reason to have risked whatever credibility he’d earned over the years as an “impartial” political reporter by insisting on grilling Peter Schweizer himself rather than farming out that assignment to someone who didn’t have a conflict of interest.
Actually, here’s a better exit question: How many other members of the media have donated to the Slush Fund Foundation and “forgotten” to disclose?
Update: That solves one problem:
The “Good Morning America” co-anchor and host of “This Week” said that he would not moderate ABC’s GOP debate, which is scheduled to take place in February in New Hampshire. Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that Stephanopoulos should be prohibited from moderating any debates during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I won’t moderate that debate,” Stephanopoulos said. “I think I’ve shown that I can moderate debates fairly. That said, I know there have been questions made about moderating debates this year. I want to be sure I don’t deprive viewers of a good debate.”
But Stephanopoulos said that he would not recuse himself from coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, despite urging from the office of Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, which said Thursday that Sen. Lee would be advised not to go on “This Week” unless the host “recuses himself from all 2016 coverage.”
Good enough for Republican candidates? Or are we going to the mat with Mike Lee here?
Oh, by the way: Turns out Stephanopoulos gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, not $50,000 as was earlier reported, and his donations stretch back three years. That’s a long time to “forget” disclosure.