The Times’ and the Clintons’ Converging Conflicts of Interest

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The apparent conflicts of interest that the various Clinton family initiatives create constitute a shameful example of media complicity with the left and the Democratic Party. Accuracy in Media has written time and again about the incestuous relationships forged between the Clintons and the media. For example, George Stephanopoulos recently interrogated the author of a book critical of the Clinton’s pay-for-play foundation activities without revealing to his viewers, or his employer, that he had donated to the Clinton Foundation and participated in some of their events.

As we have documented, many media corporations also donate to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Yes, the Clintons do some good work through their various projects, but the Clinton Foundation itself spent only 9.9 percent of its funds on direct charitable grants between 2011 and 2013, according to The Federalist. What purposes, therefore, do the other parts of its spending support, besides their five-star lifestyle?

The latest revelations to turn up in this mutual backscratching world of the Democrat-Media Complex was reported by The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman, who happens to be a former AIM intern.

“A little-known private foundation controlled by Bill and Hillary Clinton donated $100,000 to the New York Times’ charitable fund in 2008, the same year the newspaper’s editorial page endorsed Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, according to tax documents reviewed” by the Free Beacon, Goodman reports.

Mrs. Clinton received the Times’ endorsement in January 2008, over then-candidate Barack Obama. The Times has refused to tell Goodman when in 2008 the donation was made.

Was this donation it made before, or after, the endorsement? Did one of them affect the other?

There may be no smoking gun to find, no email that actually says, “We, the Clinton Foundation, will donate to your foundation, and in return, you will endorse Hillary’s presidential campaign.” However, one might argue that a pattern of behavior is emerging with the Clintons. In fact, this pattern of behavior goes back many years.

Questions might also be asked about the actions of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, and his relationships with The New York Times and the Clintons. This year Slim increased his share of Times shares from 7 percent to 17 percent. Back in September of 2008 Slim and his family acquired a 6.4 percent stake in the Times.

“Mr. Slim has a history of buying depressed assets he can later sell at a profit, and several analysts familiar with his investments say they see the purchase of the Times Company stock in that vein,” reported The Times in 2008.

Slim has been a long-time contributor to Clinton Foundation causes. On June 21, 2007, President Bill Clinton, Slim, and Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra worked together on the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI). Both Giustra and Slim committed $100 million apiece.

Giustra has been the subject of controversy following revelations about the Uranium One deal, which resulted in the Russians acquiring 20 percent of America’s annual uranium production capacity.

The Times’s coverage of the Uranium One deal mentions the CGSGI and a number of other donors—but it leaves Slim out.

“As if to underscore the point, five months later Mr. Giustra held a fund-raiser for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project aimed at fostering progressive environmental and labor practices in the natural resources industry, to which he had pledged $100 million,” reported Jo Becker and Mike McIntire. “The star-studded gala, at a conference center in Toronto, featured performances by Elton John and Shakira and celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Robin Williams encouraging contributions from the many so-called F.O.F.s—Friends of Frank—in attendance, among them Mr. [Ian] Telfer.”

So many people were mentioned, but not Slim, and his pledge—even though he was featured in the Clinton Foundation press release. Was that not relevant to the Times investigation, or their article?

However, Slim “lent the Times Company $250 million, at an interest rate of 14 percent, in 2009; at the time, with the world economy struggling and credit tight, the company looked to be in peril,” reported the Times earlier this year. “The loan was repaid in 2011, more than three years before it was due.”

The Telmex Foundation, founded by Slim, “provided between $250,000 and $500,000 for a speech by Hillary Clinton,” reported The Washington Post last month, regarding previously undisclosed Clinton Foundation payments. The article said that the Clinton Foundation revealed “that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.”

Even Politico’s Dylan Byers is crying foul at this point, and implying hypocrisy by the Times. “The Free Beacon story is preposterous from start to finish,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told him.

“The Times is no stranger to reporting on possible lines of influence without hard evidence of causation,” Byers writes, referring to Schweizer-inspired stories.

“Yet the Times’ response—or lack thereof—to the Free Beacon’s inquiries suggests that the paper of record holds little regard for [the Free Beacon’s] brand of journalism,” he writes. “In both cases, the Times did not respond to Free Beacon reporters when they emailed requesting comment. Then, following publication of the articles, the Times responded to inquiries from the On Media blog while continuing to disregard emails from Free Beacon reporters.”

“NO donation to The Neediest Cases Fund has ever had any impact on a Times endorsement,” Murphy told the Free Beacon. “We’re not commenting further.”

The Free Beacon later reported on Slim’s connections to the Times, and noted that additional Clinton Foundation donors may include James A. Kohlberg and Mark Thompson. The former is on the Times’ board of directors, and the latter is the CEO of The New York Times Company. Murphy told the Free Beacon that Thompson told her directly that he had not given anything to the Clinton Foundation, but one “Mark Thompson” is listed within the Post’s searchable database of foundation donors, as is one “James A. Kohlberg.”

ABC’s spokeswoman, Heather Riley, who managed Stephanopoulos’ public relations crisis, turned to none other than Byers to manage the ABC host’s scandal. The Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles then exposed on May 15 that Riley had “worked in the White House press office from 1997 to 2000,” including serving “as a press contact for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.”

“This is what happens when you have a corrupt media that don’t play fair, but instead put their thumb on the fairness scale to tilt it towards their partisan interests,” I recently wrote.

It is also said to be a problem when corporations try to influence elections.

If the left gets their way, all corporations, except those in the media business, would be severely restricted from supporting candidates or issues. Only corporations like The New York Times Corporation, or NBC Comcast Universal would be allowed to offer round-the-clock, unlimited support for their favorite candidates. You see, those are the good corporations, not motivated by greed or self-interest, or a political agenda—only by the public good, which in their collective wisdom means electing nearly all Democrats—and the more left-wing, the better.


How the Media Got Into Bed with the Clintons

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Republican operative Karl Rove writes in The Wall Street Journal that “few demonstrate as much contempt for journalists as do Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” That may be true for Obama, but Mrs. Clinton has taken a different approach. Her platforms, the Clinton Foundation and its project, the Clinton Global Initiative, have given the appearance of humanitarian work, drawing many big names from the media into her network of influence. No wonder they treat her with deference and respect. The media have been compromised.

“Until late Tuesday afternoon,” reports USA Today, “the Clinton Foundation website listed CNN anchor Jake Tapper as a ‘speaker’ at a Clinton Global Initiative event scheduled for June 8-10 in Denver. After USA TODAY asked CNN about the event, Tapper’s name was swiftly removed from the Clinton Foundation website.”

It appears that Tapper will still participate in the meeting, but not as a speaker.

This Tapper controversy should put an end to the pretense that George Stephanopoulos of ABC News is the only member of the journalism business who was compromised through his involvement in the Clinton Foundation. A list of media members of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2011 included Stephanopoulos and many others:

  • Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
  • Thomas Friedman, Columnist, The New York Times
  • Lionel Barber, U.S. Managing Director, The Financial Times
  • Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times
  • Maria Bartiromo, Anchor, CNBC (now with Fox Business Network)
  • Matt Lauer, Host, The Today Show, NBC
  • Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief and American Business Editor, The Economist
  • Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent and Moderator of Meet the Press, NBC News
  • Greta Van Susteren, Anchor and Host, Fox News Channel
  • Anderson Cooper, Anchor, CNN
  • Judy Woodruff, Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS
  • Katie Couric, Anchor, CBS News (now with Yahoo)
  • Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International

The pro-Clinton group Media Matters has been having a field day with the news that Fox News personalities were on the list. The group points out that Van Susteren and Bartiromo have both lavished praise on the Clinton Global Initiative for its good work.

For our part, we have been drawing attention to media links to the Clintons for at least 10 years. It wasn’t considered controversial by the media, on the left or right, until the release of Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. Schweizer has attempted to link some of the contributions made to the Clintons to actions taken by the Obama administration when Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State.

We noted back in 2005 that Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of the Fox News parent company, was a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative meeting held in New York in mid-September of that year. As we also pointed out, Clinton himself had appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News Channel show to promote the event.

That same year we reported that the Fox News Channel, in addition to giving Clinton a platform to talk about his Global Initiative, had done then-Senator Hillary Clinton a big favor by canceling some interviews with Ed Klein, the author of a book critical of Hillary.

Back in 2007 we noted that Murdoch had personally made a $500,000 gift to the Clinton Global Initiative.

“In terms of the Clinton Global Initiative,” Van Susteren told former President Clinton in a 2010 interview, “I’ve seen so many of the good works in terms of the money that goes around the world, whether it’s clean water in different areas. If there is one particular mission for you to describe the Clinton Global Initiative, what is it?”

Clinton’s lengthy reply to this softball question included praise for Frank Giustra, the Canadian business executive, for giving $20 million. Giustra’s donations have subsequently been linked to a plan to win U.S. approval to sell a uranium company to Russia.

Rather than look into the contributions of Giustra and others, Van Susteren encouraged others to contribute to the Clintons. She said to the former president, “A lot of people look at the program, a lot of big names, big contributors and very generous, what about somebody who says I don’t have any big money to contribute. I might have some ideas, or I’m willing to do some leg work to help. How can I participate?”

Isn’t that nice? Even Fox News was in bed with the Clintons.

In a September 27, 2012 column, we pointed out that members of the media scheduled to speak at that year’s Clinton Global Initiative meeting were:

  • Nicholas D. Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times
  • Piers Morgan, Host, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight
  • Charlie Rose, Executive Editor and Anchor, “Charlie Rose”
  • Fareed Zakaria, Host, CNN-GPS

It turns out that 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney even attended and addressed that year’s Clinton Global Initiative meeting. Perhaps he had been told by Republican advisers like Rove that it was a humanitarian event with a bipartisan flavor.

“Since serving as President here in America,” Romney declared, “President Clinton has devoted himself to lifting the downtrodden around the world. One of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate. That is how needy and neglected causes have become global initiatives.”

The comment goes to show how Clinton, who disgraced himself by having sex with a White House intern and was impeached, has had his reputation rehabilitated. A Republican who got caught doing such things would be forced to slink away and beg for forgiveness from the media.

Romney may have gotten bad advice about going to that event, but it was Romney himself who told Jan Crawford of CBS News during the campaign that the major media were not in the tank for President Obama and that he had no plans to challenge liberal media bias.

No wonder the Democrats are so confident about their ability to manipulate the press. They have the Republicans eating out of their hands.


Stephanopoulos Fiasco is Par for the Course

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

What is surprising about the latest George Stephanopoulos controversy is that most of the media are treating it as something unusual rather than an acknowledgement of a problem that’s been plaguing the media for decades. We at Accuracy in Media are happy to see this issue receive the scrutiny it deserves. However, anyone convinced that Stephanopoulos’s ongoing political conflict of interest and failure to disclose it to his viewers is the exception, not the rule, hasn’t been paying attention to a long history of media corruption.

Stephanopoulos interviewed Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on April 26. But the ABC host, formerly a Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategy, and unofficial hatchet-man, for President Bill Clinton, treated his broadcast as more of an interrogation than an interview in an effort to discredit Schweizer and defend, in turn, the Clintons. A real interview would have endeavored to understand Schweizer’s critique of the Clintons, not demand to see a “smoking gun” or “evidence” of a crime.

Stephanopoulos’s conflict of interest was blown wide open by an excellent outfit, The Washington Free Beacon, which started the ball rolling when it contacted ABC News about Stephanopoulos’s donations to the Clinton Foundation. ABC’s spokeswoman, Heather Riley, said that they would respond, but then turned first to a friendly ally—Politico—to spin the story favorably for the network and its golden boy.

“I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record,” said Stephanopoulos in his apology. “However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation.”

ABC News initially incorrectly stated that he had given only $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation—an amount he later amended to $75,000 over three years.

But there’s more, much more.

The Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles reported that Ms. Riley “worked in the White House press office from 1997 to 2000,” including serving “as a press contact for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.”

But beyond that, Schweizer followed up on the week’s revelations, and found that Stephanopoulos’s ties with the Clinton Foundation were much closer than just cutting checks to the foundation. Schweizer called it “the sort of ‘hidden hand journalism’ that has contributed to America’s news media’s crisis of credibility in particular, and Americans’ distrust of the news media more broadly.”

He pointed out that Stephanopoulos “did not disclose that in 2006 he was a featured attendee and panel moderator at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).” Nor did he “disclose that in 2007, he was a featured attendee at the CGI annual meeting, a gathering also attended by several individuals I report on in Clinton Cash, including mega Clinton Foundation donors Lucas Lundin, Frank Giustra, Frank Holmes, and Carlos Slim—individuals whose involvement with the Clintons I assumed he had invited me on his program to discuss.” And on it goes.

Stephanopoulos inadvertently revealed in another setting what donations such as his are all about. “But everybody also knows when those donors give that money—and President Clinton or someone, they get a picture with him—there’s a hope that it’s going to lead to something. And that’s what you have to be careful of,” Stephanopoulos said to Jon Stewart about Schweizer’s theory on April 28. “Even if you don’t get an action, what you get is access and you get the influence that comes with access and that’s got to shape the thinking of politicians. That’s what’s so pernicious about it.”

“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?” asks Lloyd Grove for The Daily Beast.

On the May 15 broadcast of Good Morning America Stephanopoulos “apologized” again—while patting himself on the back for supporting children, the environment, and efforts to stop the spread of AIDS. “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,” he said. “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.”

The extra mile?

This is, basically, the same argument the Clintons and their Foundation have put forth to explain their conflicts of interest or “errors,” after having taken millions of dollars from companies and countries that had business with the U.S. government while Mrs. Clinton served as Secretary of State. Their failure to disclose many of these donations resulted in them refiling their tax returns for five years, once the obvious conflicts of interest came to light.

In reality the Clinton Foundation gives about 10% of what it collects to direct charitable grants, according to a study by The Federalist, as reported in National Review. “It looks like the Foundation—which once did a large amount of direct charitable work—now exists mainly to fund salaries, travel, and conferences,” writes David French. The study pointed out that “Between 2011 and 2013, the organization spent only 9.9 percent of the $252 million it collected on direct charitable grants.” In other words, less than $10,000 of the money that Stephanopoulos paid as tribute to the Clintons went to the causes he claims to care about.

Stephanopoulos has removed himself from the ABC-sponsored Republican presidential primary debate next February. Yet he simultaneously claimed, “I think I’ve shown that I can moderate debates fairly.” His decision to not participate ignores the bigger picture.

As we have pointed out, the incestuous relationships between the Democrats and media are almost endless. It’s not just ABC’s Sunday show, but the two other main broadcast networks that also feature highly partisan Democrats as hosts. NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd “served as a staffer on Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s 1992 presidential bid,” according to Politico. John Dickerson, the new host of CBS’s Face the Nation gave the following advice to President Barack Obama in 2013: “The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat.”

Stephanopoulos says he should have announced his conflict of interest. If such announcements become commonplace, which they should, where exactly will that end? Should CBS News announce each and every time it broadcasts news about President Obama’s foreign policy or national security issues that the president of CBS News is actually the brother of White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes? Or should ABC News have regularly disclosed that its former ABC News President Ben Sherwood had a sister with the Obama White House? She still works with the Obama administration. And, NBC? That’s the network of Al Sharpton, Brian Williams, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Need I say more?

Chris Harper, formerly of ABC News, has posted his views, along with those of other mostly liberal former ABC News people, as cited by Kevin Williamson of National Review: “During the 15 years we worked for ABC News,” wrote Harper, “we remember that we had to sign a yearly disclosure of gifts worth more than $25 and contributions. Perhaps these documents no longer exist in the muddled world of TV news.”

Added Harper: “Mr. Stephanopoulos has few defenders among his former colleagues. According to a Facebook page, ABCeniors, the rather liberal bunch of former network staffers discussed the problems with his contributions. ‘That shows either indifference or arrogance. Or a nice cocktail of both,’ wrote one former ABC hand. A former producer noted: ‘He knew what he was doing, and he didn’t want us to know. That’s deceit.’”

Geraldo Rivera recalled that he had been fired from ABC back in 1985 because of a $200 political donation. At least that was the reason given at the time. Rivera wondered why Stephanopoulos was being treated differently: “The point is ABC treated my undisclosed $200 donation harshly because the network wanted me out for that unrelated reason,” Rivera continued. “Now ABC is bending over backward to minimize and forgive George Stephanopoulos’s $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation because he is central to the network’s recent success.”

Former ABC News reporter Carole Simpson said Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources that she “was dumbfounded.”

“But I wanted to just take him by the neck and say, George, what were you thinking?

“And clearly, he was not thinking. I thought it was outrageous, and I am sorry that, again, the public’s trust in the media is being challenged and frayed because of the actions of some of the top people in the business.”

She added that “there’s a coziness that George cannot escape the association. He was press secretary for President Clinton. That’s pretty close. And while he did try to separate himself from his political background to become a journalist, he really is not a journalist. Yet, ABC has made him the face of ABC News, the chief anchor. And I think they’re really caught in a quandary here.” She believes that ABC, despite their public support for Stephanopoulos, is “hopping mad” at him.

When the left has conflicts of interest involving money, the media allow the perpetrators—including themselves—to portray this as charity and supporting good causes. “[NBC’s Brian] Willams wrapped himself in the flag; Stephanopoulos cloaked himself in charity,” writes Grove. MSNBC identified 143 journalists making political donations between 2004 and the start of the 2008 campaign. “Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes,” according to NBC News.

But when conservatives are shown to have financial conflicts of interest, or even to have accepted legitimate campaign donations, they are generally portrayed as serving the interests of evil, greedy businessmen or lobbyists who are paying off politicians to allow them to pollute, destroy the environment, fatten up defense contractors and avoid paying taxes.

“As you know, the Democrats have said this is—this is an indication of your partisan interest. They say… you used to work for …President Bush as a speechwriter. You’re funded by the Koch brothers,” Stephanopoulos told Schweizer during the interview, casting the author as biased. Stephanopoulos, however, they want us to believe, is just an impartial journalist inquiring after the truth.

This is what happens when you have a corrupt media that don’t play fair, but instead put their thumb on the fairness scale to tilt it towards their partisan interests.