Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Why are the media enabling the anti-Clinton tilt?

Paul Glastris, writing for the Washington Monthly, says that there are legitimate questions that need to be raised about Hillary Clinton's relationship to the Clinton Foundation during the time she was Secretary of State.   Did donors get special access or favors, or did meetings affect government policy, especially considering that many of the large donors are foreign governments or international financiers?   Glastris has some answers:
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"The good news is that as a result of these investigations we can now answer those questions pretty definitively: no, no, and no. The bad news is that the press doesn’t seem to want to take “nofor an answer, even if the answer is based on the evidence of its own reporting."

[Glastris then explores this coverage and the misleading emphasis of the media.  One good example is a two-part request from aides to Bill Clinton at the Foundation.]  

[One request was for help getting special diplomatic passports for three Clinton Foundation staffers, who were to accompany Bill Clinton on a quickly arranged trip to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists.  The request was denied, because it would violate State Department rules.   The other was for a meeting with the CEO of Dow Chemicals, a Foundation donor.   Clinton did meet briefly with him.   The reason?   He was offering to let Mr. Clinton use his private jet to fly to Korea for this mission.]

[To be clear, neither request was for personal gain, by anyone.   Both were connected to a humanitarian mission of global importance.   Any Secretary of State, hopefully, would have responded just as Hillary Clinton did.   And note, she did not bend passport rules for convenience, even under such time pressure and for such a good cause.  Glastris continues:]

"Other stories on the Clinton Foundation over the last two weeks  fit the same basic pattern: the facts dug up by the investigation disprove the apparent thesis of the investigation. Last week, for instance, the Associated Press shook up the political world with an enterprising investigation showing that more than half of the 154 private sector individuals Secretary Clinton met or talked with during her first two years at State had donated to the Clinton Foundation, ether directly or though their companies or groups. That 'extraordinary proportion,' said the AP, indicates 'her possible ethics challenges if elected president.'

"But . . . the story’s own reporting undermined the case that anything unethical occurred. As its main example, the story cites meetings with and calls on behalf of Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunis, whose Grameen Bank had contributed to the Foundation. Yet Yunis is not some shady financier who gave money to the Foundation to gain access to the secretary. He’s a Nobel Prize-winning pioneer of 'micro-lending' to the world’s poor whom Clinton has known and worked with for 30 years. And the calls she made in support of Yunis were part of an international effort to keep the Bangladeshi government from forcing the beloved humanitarian out of Grameen on trumped-up charges. Other examples in the piece of donors getting 'access' are similarly benign (one of them was the Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel)."

[One factor no one mentions: with the Clintons' prominence in global affairs over such a long time, there are not going to be many significant world figures that they do not know and already have relationships with.   If you eliminate all those from meeting with the Secretary of State, in order to avoid the appearance of conflict of emphasis, you'd severely hamper the operation of the Secretary of State's official duties.]

"The same passive-aggressive quality pervades all the recent stories about the Clinton Foundation. . . . Thanks to the publishing of these investigations—most of which took many months of dogged effort to produce—we now have a tremendous amount of granular information about the Clinton Foundation’s relationship with the State Department and with the federal government generally.  In virtually every case we know of, it’s clear that Hillary and her staff behaved appropriately.

"Yet instead of accepting the evidence of their own investigations, much of the mainstream media expresses the attitude that these are still wide open questions. . . . . The New York Times concedes that the latest batch of emails does not 'so far' show that Hillary gave any special favors to Clinton donors . . . . [Yet] journalists . . . feel the need to insist that the next batch of emails could prove otherwise. . . . 

"Another way of looking at it is that the press is beginning to treat the Clinton Foundation story the way the Republican still treat Benghazi. . . .  The GOP at least had an obvious political motive for refusing to admit the obvious on Benghazi. Why the mainstream press is refusing to concede the facts of its own investigations on Hillary and the Clinton Foundation is not so clear. But unless it stops that behavior and starts speaking honestly, and soon, there’s a very real chance it could throw the election to Donald Trump."

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I have my own answer to that question of why the media is keeping the anti-Clinton suspicions alive.   Of course there is always the factor that controversy sells newspapers and drives up TV ratings.   But put that ubiquitous one aside.   I think that there is so much negative stuff about Trump out there being reported that media producers may unconsciously feel they have to bend over backwards to prove they are not favoring Clinton.  So they keep alive all the negative stories about her.   There's also the factor that Clinton has not given a press conferences in about nine months, and they don't like that;  they feel shut out. 

They needn't worry about having enough faux dirt to talk about for the next 63 days.  Trump has hired as deputy campaign manager David Bossie, who has built his career on being the most relentless sleuth trying to find dirt on the Clintons for the past 25 years.    He goes back to the 1992 Watergate non-scandal and was involved in promoting the anti-Clinton movie that led to the Citizens United decision.    So now Trump has added a leading dirty trickster operative to his stable that includes Breitbart's Steven Bannon and Fox's ex, Roger Ailes.   Prepare for ugly to expand exponentially.  


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