It wasn’t exactly a “stop the presses!” moment, but it was still a little surprising. George Stephanopoulos, former White House communications director under President Bill Clinton and ABC News “chief news anchor,” donated one and one half times the average American income to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
The $75,000 Stephanopoulos ponied up is enough to cover Chelsea’s speaking fee, but who would want that? It’s pocket change for the Bill and Hillary, who wouldn’t entertain the idea of sending a personalized birthday card for that price.
But that price was enough to expose Stephanopoulos as what observers of his “journalism” career always knew he was – a loyal Democrat and, most specifically, a Clinton loyalist.
The world wouldn’t know who George Stephanopoulos was were it not for the Clintons, nor would the world know who the Clintons were without George Stephanopoulos. Bill and Hillary Clinton would be a forgotten footnote, the First Family of Arkansas that made a run for the White House in 1992, were it not for the work of Stephanopoulos and James Carville.
Everything George Stephanopoulos is – the job, the fame, the money – exists because of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and, to a great degree, vice-versa. That anyone would think differently, especially a journalistic enterprise, is folly.
ABC News knew what they were getting when they hired Stephanopoulos, and they were fine with it.
There’s a long, storied history about the noble newsman, the reporter whose personal opinions were known only to them. The job, reporting the truth, was all that mattered. It was a lie then, but it was a lie journalists tried to hide. They’d do the job fairly most of the time, but the story angle and choices of story shaded the news. That shade is gone, the bias is fully exposed to the light and none of the vaunted houses of journalism pay anything more than lip service to concept of unbiased reporting anymore.
In 2011, MSNBC president Phil Griffin suspended Keith Olbermann “indefinitely” for donating a total of $2,400 to two Democrats. Indefinite, it turned out, meant two days, Olbermann returned to the air after a four-day weekend.
It was news at the time because of the suspension, not really because of the donation. Olbermann’s show, and MSNBC as a whole, were essentially in-kind donations to the Democratic Party, a couple of checks didn’t make any difference. MSNBC wanted to get rid of Olbermann for their own reasons, and they soon did.
The concept of the objective journalist is dead, regardless of the network. There was a time when George Stephanopoulos would have been fired for violating journalistic ethics for concealing his donations, especially after conducting a contentious interview with an author of a book who laid out a case that donations to the same organization influenced American government policy and personally enriched the Clintons. That time ain’t now.
News networks would like people to think they’re still bastions truth, but they’re simply press secretaries with media credentials, activist with airwaves. The Normal Rockwell paintings they once claimed to be have been bleached away to expose the paint-by-numbers frauds they always were.
If this were a different time it would matter more, but the Internet exists. Talk radio exists. Fox News, while no different in coming at it from the opposite direction, exists. The toothpaste is out of the tube.
Journalism still happens, some stories are simply too good to ignore. But the American people, even those who pay attention, have to hunt to find it.
The fact is nearly every news organization – left, right and center – has money, directly or indirectly, flowing into the coffers of every political group. There is no parasite and no host, they are simpatico.
What George Stephanopoulos did would be unforgivable and necessitate his losing his job were it an exception, but it’s the norm. Journalism should never have gotten to this place, but it has. It’s not a flaw in the system, it is the system.