UPDATE - Stephanopoulos now says he donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, says the donations were an error in judgment, says he was wrong not to disclose the donations to ABC and his viewers, and has recused himself from participating in the network's 2016 New Hampshire GOP primary debate. Good enough?
...And not just any anchor, either. This was George Stephanopoulos, he who ran communications for Bill Clinton's White House before being hired on as a broadcast network newsman. Not as an analyst, mind you; as an anchor, who just happens to run much of ABC's political coverage. That's akin to Fox News hiring Karl Rove to do Bret Baier's job. Unfathomable. But the Left plays by different rules. So, just a few months after Brian Williams was suspended at NBC News for his fabulism and exaggerations, a major figure at a rival network finds himself besieged by serious questions over journalistic ethics and conflicts of interest. This "scoop" went to Politico, but only because the Washington Free Beacon did the legwork:
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos has given $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, charitable contributions that he did not publicly disclose while reporting on the Clintons or their non-profit organization, the On Media blog has learned. In both 2013 and 2014, Stephanopoulos made a $25,000 donation to the 501 nonprofit founded by former president Bill Clinton, the Foundation's records show. Stephanopoulos never disclosed this information to viewers, even when interviewing author Peter Schweizer last month about his book "Clinton Cash," which alleges that donations to the Foundation may have influenced some of Hillary Clinton's actions as Secretary of State. In a statement to the On Media blog on Thursday, Stephanopoulos apologized and said that he should have disclosed the donations to ABC News and its viewers.
The Free Beacon asked Stephanopoulos for comment, at which point the jig was up, and the Stephanopoulos camp ran to Politico with the long-overdue admission. Conservatives do a lot of chirping about media bias -- much of it justified -- but this especially egregious. In a recent interview, Stephanopoulos grilled author Peter Schweizer over his potential "partisan interest[s]" in exposing the Clinton Foundation's dodgy web of cash, concluding for viewers that no "smoking gun" proving corruption exists (an attitude I dealt with here). The host's performance drew approbation from the most hacktastic of Clinton lackeys:
In subjecting Schweizer to a tough interview (many of the questions were fair) and suggesting a lack of a proverbial 'there there,' Stephanopoulos never bothered to let his audience know that he himself was a significant donor to the very institution at the heart of the story he was "objectively" covering. Again, he's a news anchor, not an analyst. Nobody would've batted an eye if, say, Paul Begala had donated to the Clinton Foundation, because Begala is very open about his biases. But Stephanopoulos' perch at ABC News is only remotely justifiable if the network and its viewers are that he's done everything humanly possible to separate himself from his former role as Democratic operative. This Politico story in 2009 should have been an early red flag that old habits die hard:
The conversations don’t begin with hello. They don’t end with goodbye. Most often they pick up with a low, drawling voice uttering something between a sentence and a grunt. “Wahzgoanawn?” For those accustomed to hearing James Carville only when he is trying to enunciate more clearly for television, that translates to: "What's going on?" So begins another morning in what may count as Washington’s longest-running conversation — a street-corner bull session between four old friends who suddenly find themselves standing once more at the busiest intersection of politics and media in Washington. Carville calls White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel calls ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos. A bit later, CNN commentator Paul Begala, who is not quite the early bird that his friends are, will complete the circle with a rapid set of calls to all three.
Nobody seriously argued at the time that Stephanopoulos was obligated to sever long-lasting friendships due to the nature of his current job, but participating in daily conference calls with three hardcore partisans seemed…inappropriate for a news anchor. Skeptics also seized on Stephanopoulos' bizarre fixation on a birth control question at a 2012 GOP debate hosted by ABC News in New Hampshire:
Shortly thereafter, birth control demagoguery and the "war on women" magically became central Democratic campaign themes. Stephanopoulos denies any connection, but today's news may very well turn skeptics into cynics. ABC's lead anchor has an acute credibility problem on his hands. How will the network respond? Will the RNC allow Stephanopoulos moderate another Republican debate? (Update: We have our answer. See above).