Monday, September 5, 2016

The Clinton Foundation "Story" In Perspective

Through The Looking Glass Dept. - One of the amusing aspects of the constant barrage of dishonest, ref-working conservative charges of a "liberal media" is that the mainstream corporate press--the entity collectively so labeled--doesn't do anything an actual liberal media would. Money in politics, for example, is the major political story in the U.S. and any genuinely liberal media would make it a central concern. It's almost entirely ignored by the corporate press though.

The intense press scrutiny given the Clinton Foundation in this election cycle is, from my perspective, an utterly bizarre spectacle. The allegations that the Foundation was some sort of corrupt enterprise and that Big Money sources could donate to it and get special favors from Hillary Clinton exploded into the national press last year by way of some sort of deal--the details have never been made entirely clear--between several national press outlets and rightist oppo researcher Peter Schweizer. Schweizer had written a book, "Clinton Cash," that was long on sensational assertions, short on real evidence. He provided these outlets with the then-unpublished manuscript and they wrote stories about its allegations, not always being terribly scrupulous about revealing this was their source. The allegations that the Foundation was some sort of pay-to-play scheme have never made any sense. Even if one sets aside the lack of any actual identifiable quid pro quo, the Clinton Foundation is a charitable institution that provides relatively little benefit to Clinton herself. In 19 years, it has reportedly raised about $2 billion for its work. To put that in perspective, Hillary Clinton has made that--$2 billion--her fundraising goal for this election cycle alone and that campaign money is ponied up specifically to curry favor with her potential presidential administration. Straight-up legalized bribery, yet the press is AWOL on that matter with her, just as it always is with every other candidate of both parties. To go after that would be to question whether the entire American campaign finance system was fundamentally corrupt and such radical lefty notions are given no seat at the table of mainstream journalism. Instead, we get the Clinton Foundation talk, the press carrying out yet another nut-right vendetta.

The constant focus on the Foundation doesn't reflect any genuine concern for the alleged ethical questions raised by it (and there are some, even if they're of relatively little significance). It is, instead, merely the 4-trillionth iteration of Clinton Rules reportage, that special exception in the canons of journalism that allows every other rule to be thrown out when it comes to covering--or manufacturing--alleged improprieties by the Clintons. Two weeks ago, the Associated Press concluded what seems to have been a fairly large investigation of one aspect of the Clinton Foundation "story," the idea that donors to the Foundation got meetings with Clinton. Reportes Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan essentially found nothing untoward then opted to manufacture, via a series of gross misrepresentations, an anti-Clinton hit-piece out of it. It collapsed upon even cursory inspection but it's still getting press-time two weeks later.

And while that nonsense is going on, the actual money-in-politics story--those buying Clinton (and Trump and all the rest)--is being given no attention at all. As usual. As far as the "liberal media" is concerned, that ethical quagmire doesn't even exist.

--j.