Mainstream media journalists, including several former ABC News reporters, have launched an avalanche criticism against Clinton strategist-turned-ABC News host George Stephanopoulos’ decision to hide his deep involvement and $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation from viewers while conducting a hyper-aggressive interview with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer.
The blistering condemnations from journalists come as ABC News says Stephanopoulos will remain in his current position and will render zero punishment for his ethical breach.
Here, then, are just a dozen of the most recent reactions from outraged journalists:
Former ABC News Correspondent Ann Compton: “My colleague George Stephanopoulos has really stepped in it,” said Compton, who worked as an ABC News correspondent for four decades. “He has apologized. ABC is standing behind him. But it is an egregious, egregious failing, and George knows it.”
CNN’s Senior Media Correspondent and “Reliable Sources” Host Brian Stelter: “I was dumbfounded by it.”
Politico Senior Media Writer Jack Shafer: The donation corrodes much of the journalistic credibility Stephanopoulos has labored so carefully to build since joining ABC News as a correspondent and analyst in December 1996….In shelling out $75,000 to the politically identified Clinton Foundation, Stephanopoulos has betrayed that compact, torched the journalism-cred he has acquired in the past two decades, and obviously forgotten the lessons in political savvy he learned as a member of Bill Clinton’s inner circle. He knew going into ABC News that his reporting and his personal actions would be extra scrutinized for bias. I find it implausible that he did not understand in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (the years he gave the Clinton Foundation cash), that his contributions would be an issue with his employers and his viewers once discovered—even if they were just sitting there buried on a website for anyone to stumble upon…As we conduct the dumb, dumber and dumbest inventory of Stephanopoulos’ humiliation, we must ask why it was necessary for him to give anything to the Clinton Foundation?”
PBS News Hour Contributor and Daily Beast Columnist Jeff Greenfield: “I call this a self-inflicted wound. ABC has said George Stephanopoulos can not moderate a Republican debate. What else are they going to say he’s not going to be able to do? Like Carol, I was completely dumbfounded, particularly in the interview with Schweizer. I couldn’t believe as he was making the whole conversation about the foundation that it didn’t occur to him to say ‘maybe I should disclose I’ve given them a lot of money and participated in a lot of their events.’ It simple is an indication that very smart people can sometimes be very foolish.”
Former ABC News Anchor Carole Simpson: “I was dumbfounded, too. I like George. I worked with him and have great respect for him. But I wanted to just take him by the neck and say, ‘George, what were you thinking? And clearly, he was not thinking. I thought it was I outrageous,and I am sorry that, again, the public’s trust in the media is being challenged and frayed because of the actions of some of the top people in the business.”
New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley: “It’s the kind of dumb, inexplicable blunderthat is enabled by the very job that makes it toxic…The slip by Mr. Stephanopoulos is especially mystifying. He was the ultimate political caretaker-courtier and had to work particularly hard to mold a new persona for himself after leaving the Clinton White House…It’s possible he was hoping to expiate some guilt. Mr. Stephanopoulos ruptured his friendship with the Clintons in 1999 when he published a tell-most memoir, “All Too Human”….He couldn’t buy the Clintons’ forgiveness with that kind of money, but it is possible that he sought to assuage some of his own remorse over putting his credibility and fortune above their political ambitions. Mr. Stephanopoulos projects choir-boy decency and probity on camera, so he might have wanted to feel better about himself off the set. For someone of his wealth, $75,000 is a small price to pay.”
Daily Beast Editor-at-Large Lloyd Grove: “George Stephanopoulos cloaked his undisclosed Clinton Foundation donations in charity. That half-hearted apology isn’t going to suffice if he wants to keep his anchor chair….It is hard to argue that asking tough questions of a charity’s critic on the air—as Stephanopoulos did last month with Schweizer, whose much-publicized bookClinton Cash has been the target of war room-level pushback from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign—without bothering to mention that you’ve donated to that charity, is anything other than a serious breach of accepted journalistic standards. Or that letting viewers know about such a potential conflict of interest is “going the extra mile.” Apparently Stephanopoulos still fails to grasp that there is nothing “extra” about what should have been a common-sense disclosure….Could Stephanopoulos, who is also ABC News’s chief anchor and political correspondent, be hoping for access to and exclusives from Bill and Hillary, giving him a competitive edge during the 2016 presidential campaign? It’s a fair question.
Washington Post Media Writer Erik Wemple on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “He’s in a real vice right now…He is the franchise. He is ABC News…At first he said, ‘I’ve only done $50,000’ and ‘Now I’ve done $75,000.’ The story changed throughout the day; they had to amend their disclosure, which was embarrassing too…I could sense that he was going after Peter Schweizer. At the time, it looked like legitimate journalism. In retrospect, it looks like activism.”
Fox News Commentator Geraldo Rivera: “In 1985, after fifteen great years, I was fired by ABC News. The official reason for my firing was a non-disclosed $200 donation to a family friend running in a non-partisan mayoral campaign in New Bedford Massachusetts….Now ABC is bending over backward to minimize and forgive George Stephanopoulos’ $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation because he is central to the network’s recent success….Money raises the specter of Pay for Play….If Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace or Bill O’Reilly made a similar donation to say an educational foundation run by Jeb Bush liberal wolves would be howling in front of Fox News.
New York Post Columnist Michael Goodwin: Stephanopoulos ditched his journalistic veneer and reverted to his Clinton White House roots by quickly leaking the info to what he regarded as a more friendly news outlet, Politico. His track record of secrecy, partisanship anddishonorable behavior blows up his claim that he made an honest mistake. He engaged in aprolonged and brazen act of dishonesty.
Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan: “Allow us to point out that George Stephanopoulos never should have been a news anchor YOU IDIOTS!!!!…The scandal is not that George Stephanopoulos made undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation. The scandal is that George Stephanopoulos was ever hired as a ‘journalist’ in the first place….THERE ARE MANY QUALIFIED JOURNALISTS AVAILABLE FOR HIRE WHO DID NOT WORK FOR THE PEOPLE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO IMPARTIALLY COVER….Stop hiring political operatives as ‘journalists.’
Poynter Institute Chief Media Correspondent James Warren:
On air he reiterated the not especially convincing notion that he made the donations ‘strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children and protect the environment in poor countries,’ even though there are many organizations that do similar work. And, he said, ‘I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.’ Unanswered is why he went the extra mile of not even telling his employer, despite his continuing to report on the Clintons.
George Stephanopoulos has yet to publicly disclose his years’ of deep involvement with the Clinton Foundation, which Peter Schweizer exposed in a widely read Sunday USA Today article.