By Michael Goodwin in the New York Post
My, my, the bigger they are, the dumber they think we are.
Dan Rather of CBS was toppled by a phony document scam. Lyin’ Brian Williams at NBC casually mixed fact with self-aggrandizing fiction. Now George Stephanopoulos is caught in a Clinton web of deceit at ABC.
The hat trick of arrogant anchor scandals helps explain why Americans don’t trust network news. With apologies to Walter Cronkite, that’s the way it is, and the way it is stinks.
Stephanopoulos shares with Rather and Williams the rotten distinction of fessing up only after being exposed by real journalists. In his case, the Washington Free Beacon uncovered his secret donations to the Clinton Foundation and contacted ABC for a response.
That was the honorable thing to do — get the other side of the story before publishing it. But Stephanopoulos ditched his journalistic veneer and reverted to his Clinton White House roots by quickly leaking the info to what he regarded as a more friendly news outlet, Politico.
His track record of secrecy, partisanship and dishonorable behavior blows up his claim that he made an honest mistake. He engaged in a prolonged and brazen act of dishonesty.
Over three years, he gave at least $75,000 to an organization that acts like a political super PAC for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a tax-free slush fund for the Clinton family and their cronies.
Through their opaque foundation, the Clintons have financial ties to repressive regimes and shady individuals around the world, pocketing many, many millions for themselves. Yet apparently starting when Hillary was secretary of state, Stephanopoulos made common cause with his former bosses and in the process destroyed any credibility he built as a news anchor and moderator for ABC.
He made two unforgivable decisions: He didn’t tell his bosses about the donations and he didn’t tell viewers that he had given money to the foundation even as he reported on it and the Clintons.
At most news organizations, either would be a fireable offense. Either would be a fireable offense at ABC for someone less important.
But he may be too big to fire, at least quickly, so the network’s defense of him could be a trial balloon to gauge the fallout.
Even a brief tally of recent offenses makes a compelling case. On April 26, Stephanopoulos grilled Peter Schweizer, the author of the sensational “Clinton Cash,” pressing him to admit the book contains no “smoking gun.”
The implication was that, if it’s not indictable, it’s not important. That’s a legal test, not a journalistic or political one, yet Stephanopoulos cleverly used that standard to give the Clintons the all-clear.
The anchor also cited Schweizer’s “partisan interest,” noting that Schweizer was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
But as a columnist in the Washington Post noted at the time, Stephanopoulos never told viewers that he had worked for the Clintons and had defended them in many scandals. Like the Clintons themselves, he acted as if the rules only apply to others.
Two days later, Jon Stewart had Stephanopoulos on his show to talk about news coverage and the Clinton Foundation. To watch a video of the segment is to wonder whether Stephanopoulos fears Stewart knows about the contributions and will bring them up. The lack of disclosure now makes Stewart look like a chump.
Indeed, every story Stephanopoulos has ever done about the Clintons, their critics and other politicians is now suspect. What did he make of her vanishing emails? Benghazi? Her entire tenure at State? What did he say about her Republican opponents?
To suggest, as Stephanopoulos and ABC do, that disclosing the contributions would have meant going “the extra mile” is preposterous.
Disclosing something so fundamental is not extra. It’s basic. High school newspapers have stricter conflict-of-interest rules.
Almost as egregious, ABC’s “punishment” is that Stephanopoulos will not take part in a GOP debate. Big whoop. It misses the point, as does the New York Times’ coverage highlighting Republican complaints.
The breach is clearly partisan, but that is secondary. First and foremost, it is a disqualifying violation of professional ethics, and trying to remedy it by setting partisan boundaries compounds the mess.
Are we supposed to trust Stephanopoulos on some stories but not others? Will ABC put a graphic on the screen to signal when their man is playing it straight?
Hillary Clinton’s Democratic rivals also are victimized by his conflicts. All other journalists at ABC, some of whom are dependent on Stephanopoulos for air time, are tainted by his donations.
ABC needs to face the truth. Stephanopoulos has forfeited all trust as a newsman, period, end of story.
NYC’s quality of life going off the rails
Add reader Anne Schreckinger to those who see the city’s quality of life deteriorating.
“I have taken the B and C trains (between 86th and Washington Heights) for almost 18 years,” she writes, “but I have never felt unsafe until the past year.
“Almost every day there is someone on the train who makes me feel unsafe. There are people sleeping on the seats, wandering between cars and panhandling. While I am sympathetic to the homeless and mentally ill, one never knows when someone will go off. And don’t get me started on the crowded conditions.”
Prodigal Hizzoner returns
The Putz is back in the house! Our wandering mayor has wandered back to Gotham to store up on invectives for others and accolades for himself before his next trip to the boonies.
If you have a life, you probably missed his latest barnstorming tour that started in the hinterlands of Washington, DC, where he visited fellow Democrats to demand more money for urban workers’ paradises.
It’s a tough sell he made impossible by denouncing Republicans who control Congress and the purse strings. To the barricades!
Then he was off to the People’s Republic of Berkeley, where he spied a “hunger” for political revolution. His nostalgia for the commie way of life in Cuba and Nicaragua surely struck a chord with the Left Coast lefties.
That’s why you can’t blame Putzie for jetting around the nation — on New Yorkers’ dime, of course. The people out there love him — love him! — while the benighted folk in the five boroughs don’t appreciate our Great Helmsman.
Our parochial little souls are consumed with fears of random gunshots and careening taxis and mad bicyclists. We obsess about fixing schools, cleaning the streets and getting at least half a buck of services for every buck that City Hall spends.
What fools we are! We are missing out on the grand war of our time — the war to . . . what is it again? Oh, right, make war on inequality.
If only we could see what he sees, we’d be cheering him on as he slays the unfair burdens of work, responsibility and liberty.
Let somebody else pay — that’s the Progressive Way!
Chi wins! (Whew!)
Headline: “Chicago Wins Bid for Obama Presidential Library.”
Who says there’s no good news?