Big Media Blacks Out the Clinton Foundation Foreign-Money Story

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about her new book "Hard Choi
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Among the many, many reasons why Americans hate and distrust the mainstream media, we’ve got the amazing spectacle of a major story directly impacting a likely presidential candidate — Hillary Clinton — completely blacked out in favor of obsessive coverage for llamas on the loose.

To mix animal metaphors, many liberal-media critics smell a rat every time the airwaves are filled with obsession over a frivolous story.  NewsBusters clocked six minutes on the story of llamas running loose in Arizona, but only 32 seconds of coverage on one of the major networks (CBS) for the incredible tale of Hillary Clinton’s foundation raking in foreign and corporate cash both during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.

This is the same media that squeezed a solid week of shrieking, hysterical news coverage out of Rudy Giuliani, who isn’t even running for anything, expressing doubts about the depth of Barack Obama’s love for America.  Even the casual news consumer realized the intensity of this coverage had little to do with its news-worthiness.  It was, in part, a cynical attempt to use Giuliani’s remarks as a hydraulic piston to hammer the Republicans who probably are running for president, beginning with — but by no means limited to — Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, but mostly it was a sustained wail of anguish and outrage from media elites, who identify so strongly with their beloved Barack Obama that they took Giuliani’s s remarks as a personal slight against them.

There’s no question about the depth of Hillary Clinton’s love for money.  As the Clinton Foundation story gets deeper, it’s increasingly difficult for the mainstream press to justify ignoring it.  They’ll be even more reluctant to ask her about it, the way hordes of them followed Walker around and interrogated him about what he thinks Barack Obama is thinking.  Hillary Clinton doesn’t get asked about anything.  The media allows her to remain invisible for as long as she likes, and since her public appearances tend to become gaffe avalanches, she stays invisible quite a bit.  It would be a certain sign that the media favoritism her nascent candidacy depends on was evaporating if they actually asked her about the Clinton Foundation stories.

The story we’ve been hearing so little about from the press came in two stages.  First, the Wall Street Journal dished on the Clinton Foundation quietly dropping its “self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments” and collecting a rapidly increasing amount of foreign money.  Second, the Washington Post discovered that “self-imposed ban” wasn’t exactly imposed with rigorous discipline to begin with:

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday.

Most of the contributions were possible because of exceptions written into the foundation’s 2008 agreement, which included limits on foreign-government donations.

The agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.

The new disclosures, provided in response to questions from The Washington Post, make clear that the 2008 agreement did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the U.S. government from giving money to the charity closely linked to the secretary of state.

In one instance, foundation officials acknowledged they should have sought approval in 2010 from the State Department ethics office, as required by the agreement for new government donors, before accepting a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.

The money was given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues.

Of course, Barack Obama was famously loose with ethical guidelines and campaign-finance laws governing foreign donations, and his loving media didn’t see fit to dwell on it.  The problem here is that some of this money was rolling in while Hillary was the Secretary of State.  Whatever we can say about the rest of Hillary’s bodyguards in the mainstream press, the Washington Post isn’t shy about putting this in context:

Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders. But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.

In a presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton would be likely to showcase her foreign-policy expertise, yet the foundation’s ongoing reliance on foreign governments’ support opens a potential line of attack for Republicans eager to question her independence as secretary of state and as a possible president.

The Clinton machine apparently thinks it can blow this off by insisting the Foundation is a charity.  The American people are growing very sick of the aristocracy claiming that ethical standards, and even laws, shouldn’t apply to them because their intentions are so pure, even as the rest of us are strangled by the rapidly spreading weeds of bureaucracy without much thought given to our intentions when we trip across some technicality.  There’s nothing confusing about the need to prevent something like the Clinton Foundation from becoming a covert political-access superstore for those who can’t find an above-board way to buy Hillary’s time.  The public’s not likely to view this “grandfather clause” excuse about letting existing foreign donors continue to stuff money into the foundation after Hillary became Secretary of State with kindness, either.

There isn’t much good anyone can say about Hillary’s tenure at the State Department, beyond her impressive accumulation of frequent-flyer miles.  The Clinton Foundation foreign-money story arrives just as smoking-gun emails proving Clinton lied about the Benghazi attack surface — precisely the kind of bad-news synergy that would create a “perfect storm” media narrative around an “embattled” Republican candidate, especially as they both pertain to the primary experience touted by the candidate.  Hillary Clinton’s magic (D) shield is still holding for the moment, but cracks are visible.


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