Fly Specks on the Debate Commission Table

The last thing I read before going to sleep was Rick Ballard’s pithy comment on the news that almost every media operation and figure had contributed to the Clinton slush fund:

“It's actually the perpetual Clinton Campaign using tax deductible donations to the Foundation to finance itself. If the investigative press were not extinct, they would be trumpeting the names of Clinton campaign workers and vendors sustained by employment by the Foundation rather than paying access fees to it.”

So it wasn’t surprising that I had a weird dream in which I was a fly on the wall of the Commission on Presidential Debates as they tried to figure out who could moderate the next presidential debates. Actually, I was perched on the ceiling out of reach of the fly swatter. I could only see the tops of their heads so I can’t say who said what, but I here’s how the discussion went:

“Darn, Stephanopoulos. He’s making our job impossible. First, the former Clinton staffer, doesn’t report that he contributed $75 thousand to the Clinton Foundation even as he reports on political matters and interviews both candidates and  (dismissively) the author of the book, Peter  Schweizer, who cracked the story in Clinton Cash.”

“Then it turns out the he was deeply entwined with Hillary’s campaign operation itself.  Her campaign manager interned for him; Stephanopoulos participated in daily strategy calls in 2009 with key operatives in the Clinton and Obama White House.

“You mean the coordination with the Democrat campaign staffs wasn’t obvious already? Tell me how this out-of-left-field questioning of Romney in the debates didn’t set the stage for the Democrats’ ridiculous suggestion that the Republicans wanted to ban contraceptive devices and lay the foundation for the preposterous  “war on women” theme:

“Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?” Stephanopoulos asked the slightly bewildered-looking former Massachusetts governor.

“George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising,” Romney responded, “Do states have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so…Given that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We could ask our Constitutionalist here,” Romney said, gesturing toward Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Stephanopoulos persisted.

“Do you believe states have that right or not?” he asked Romney.

“George, I don’t know if the state has a right to ban contraception, no state wants to! The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do, that no state wants to do, and then asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing,” Romney responded, much to the crowd’s delight.

“Is he really that different than his colleagues elsewhere?” asked one of the Commissioners, drawing attention to Jonathan Tobin’s article in Commentary:

[I]t still must be pointed out that if a journalist were exposed as giving money to the Koch Brothers charities and then reported on them, there would be howls for his scalp throughout the media. The rules are different for liberals. Analysts who wonder about the shrinking audience for such shows and networks whose political coverage is drenched in the tired rhetoric of liberalism need wonder no more. Stephanopoulos’s lack of transparency i[n] this story is just one more piece of evidence indicting mainstream outlets for outrageous and blatant liberal bias.

But it has ramifications far beyond the media bubble.

“True. Audiences are dropping off and we can’t use Stephanopoulos as a moderator any more, who’s left?”

“Here’s our problem, as Peggy Noonan observes about the Clinton Foundation, it “functioned, at least to some degree and in some cases, as a pay-for-play operation and… the Clinton Foundation has functioned, at least in part, as a kind of high-class philanthropic slush fund.” And pay to play involved almost the entire U.S. media. To gain access to the Clintons they kicked in and in return got to toss them softball questions and, for the most part, downplay their patent, overwhelming corruption.

Take the arm of the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, which offers access to Bill Clinton and networking opportunities with his supporters to its membership. Membership usually requires $20,000 annual contributions or high profile participation in its activities. Except for 2008, George was a member from 2005-2011, and he was not alone. Either as guests who participated and were exempt from the fee or as fee-paying members, these media stars were part of the CGI:  CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, NBC’s Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw, New York Times‘s Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Yahoo’s Katie Couric, The Economist‘s Matthew Bishop, and Financial TimesLionel Barber.” Certainly at a minimum these media personages were unlikely to ever question the slush fund’s operations. In fact, at least previously undisclosed contributor Judy Woodruff, promoted it.

...on September 23, 2013, in the usual round of softball interviews that Bill Clinton does at that annual-confab time. Woodruff had just been named co-anchor with Gwen Ifill.  Like Stephanopoulos, Woodruff did not disclose she was a donor to Clinton’s efforts:

JUDY WOODRUFF: So the Clinton Global Initiative, this is your ninth year, is that right? The theme this year is Mobilizing for Impact.  Most people, I think, in this country look at the incredible poverty that exists around the world, developing countries. What do you see? How do you measure that progress has been made?

So blind to the contradictions of their behavior were Katie Couric, Stephanopoulos, and Charlie Rose that even weeks after pedophile Clinton buddy Jeffrey Epstein was convicted they partied with him at his New York apartment.

“And then there are the media contributors to the Clinton machine which list is even more extensive:

NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting and Thomson Reuters are among more than a dozen media organizations that have made charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, the foundation's records show.

The donations, which range from the low-thousands to the millions, provide a picture of the media industry's ties to the Clinton Foundation at a time when one of its most notable personalities, George Stephanopoulos, is under scrutiny for his previously undisclosed $75,000 contribution.

The list also includes mass media groups like Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom, as well a few notable individuals, including Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and largest shareholder of The New York Times Company, and James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. Both Slim and Murdoch have given between $1 million to $5 million, respectively.

Judy Woodruff, the co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, gave $250 to the foundation's “Clinton Haiti Relief Fund" in 2010.

The following list includes news media organizations that have donated to the foundation, as well as other media networks, companies, foundations or individuals that have donated. It is organized by the size of the contribution:


Carlos Slim

Chairman & CEO of Telmex, largest New York Times shareholder

James Murdoch

Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Fox

Newsmax Media

Florida-based conservative media network

Thomson Reuters

Owner of the Reuters news service



News Corporation Foundation

Philanthropic arm of former Fox News parent company


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Richard Mellon Scaife

Owner of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Abigail Disney

Documentary filmmaker

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Howard Stringer

Former CBS, CBS News and Sony executive 

Intermountain West Communications Company 

Local television affiliate owner (formerly Sunbelt Communications)


Bloomberg L.P.

Discovery Communications Inc.

George Stephanopoulos

ABC News chief anchor and chief political correspondent

Mort Zuckerman

Owner of New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report

Time Warner Inc.

Owner of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting




Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Presenters of the Golden Globe Awards



Knight Foundation

Non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting journalism

Public Radio International

Turner Broadcasting

Parent company of CNN




Parent company of NBCUniversal

NBC Universal

Parent company of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC

Public Broadcasting Service


Robert Allbritton

Owner of POLITICO parent company Capitol News Group


AOL Huffington Post Media Group

Hearst Corporation

Judy Woodruff

PBS Newshour co-anchor and managing editor

The Washington Post Company

“What are our alternatives, now? I mean there’s really no one left untainted that I can see. We can’t find anyone to moderate the presidential debates whose hem isn’t soiled.”

“We can scratch the debates or skip moderation altogether. I mean after Candy Crowley’s awful role in the Obama/Romney debate where she falsely and inappropriately questioned Romney’s perfectly true statement in a way suspiciously redolent of coordination with the Obama camp, we have to be on guard. We could just pick one general debate question and simply have a time keeper and keep the press out of it altogether.”

I couldn’t stand it any more, and deprived of speech had only one way to make my point, I fly specked on the commission table the only way the media could salvage itself on debate moderation,  “Keep Hillary from running.”

Not that they’ll listen to me.