ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, a former operative for former President Bill Clinton and his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will reportedly get the first interview with Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. To make matters more complicated, the partisan anchor’s handlers won’t guarantee he’ll be fair or impartial in the interview–or explain how he plans to shed his partisan past to do it.
“ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos is currently poised to land the first interview with Darren Wilson, the Missouri police officer whose fate will be decided following the announcement of a grand jury ruling on Monday night, industry sources told Politico,” Politico’s Dylan Byers wrote on Monday evening.
The grand jury decision on whether or not Wilson will be indicted for shooting and killing Michael Brown is expected to come down on Monday evening after 8 p.m.
Byers cites a report from Brian Stelter that detailed how several major mainstream media anchors are fighting for the interview. “Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Matt Lauer, CBS’ Scott Pelley and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon all held off-the-record meetings with Wilson in an effort to land the first interview,” Byers wrote. “CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ had been in ‘especially hot pursuit’ of locking down the interview, according to Stelter’s report. Off-the-record introductions are a routine part of the television booking process.”
Stephanopoulos has a particularly checkered past in media and is largely credited with the creation of the “war on women” narrative that helped then-incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama defeat Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. While nobody else was discussing contraception, Stephanopoulos inserted questions about the issue into a GOP primary debate–and the line of questioning became the foundation for the false “war on women” attacks on Romney.
Just this past election cycle, in the 2014 New Hampshire Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and former Sen. Scott Brown, Stephanopoulos moderated a debate between the two candidates. He did so despite a blatant conflict of interest, having previously accepted Shaheen’s endorsement of former President Clinton on Clinton’s behalf when Shaheen was a state senator. During that 1996 Shaheen-endorsing-Clinton event, video captured by C-SPAN shows Stephanopoulos offering early rhetoric in his creation of the “war on women” theme. Stephanopoulos also had particularly close political ties to one of Shaheen’s longtime political operatives Mandy Grunwald.
Stephanopoulos did not disclose these ties to Shaheen or her campaign when he moderated the debate, despite Brown saying he had “concerns” about it. Shaheen refused comment when asked about her ties to the final debate moderator at a press conference.
That debate ended up going sour, as Stephanopoulos co-moderator WMUR’s James Pindell got his New Hampshire geography wrong while accusing Brown of mistakenly identifying the location of a New Hampshire county. Pindell was forced to appear on statewide television to apologize for his mistake–and the Huffington Post apologized for parroting the false attack almost immediately–and even though he had the opportunity to apologize for his co-moderator’s blatant factual error multiple times, Stephanopoulos and ABC News chose not to. Of course, Brown ended up losing the race by a tight margin–3.2 points–on election day, something that might not have happened had Stephanopoulos’ team handled the final debate correctly. To make matters worse, ABC News called the election for Shaheen while people were still in line at the polls on election night–at a time when most media outlets were still gathering information on the election. For a time on election night shortly after Stephanopoulos’ crew declared Shaheen winner, incoming results actually had Brown in the lead for about 20 minutes–and political pundits across the media sphere were shocked. Shaheen did end up pulling it off in the end, however.
When asked Monday evening if Stephanopoulos plans to set aside his partisan past if he lands the first Wilson interview as reported by Politico’s Byers, and if so how he plans to do so, ABC News spokeswoman Heather Riley told Breitbart News: “No comment.”