Friday, September 02, 2016
truth-out | Earlier this week, an Associated Press (AP) story showed that a disproportionate number of Clinton's meetings with private citizens at the State Department were with large donors to the Clinton Foundation. At the very least, these stories ought to spark a serious media conversation about money, politics and philanthropy. Instead, much of the media, especially the wide array of Clinton loyalists all over the industry, have been quick to dismiss the story as part of an anti-Clinton agenda.
The media industry, which many claim is out to get Clinton, is actually made up mostly of donors to the Clinton Foundation. These donors are also actively supporting Clinton's campaign with donations and even fundraising. Indeed, while Clinton's potential conflicts of interest at the State Department are thought-provoking, her financial ties to Big Media are a concern in their own right. These close ties are especially unsettling on the heels of a primary season in which the corporate media attacked Bernie Sanders constantly, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was caught manipulating the media on Clinton's behalf.
It is understandable that many want to avoid criticizing Clinton, out of fear of giving the reckless, racist, authoritarian Donald Trump fodder to attack her. However, this type of suspension of critical thinking will not prevent a Trump presidency; Trump will attack Clinton no matter what "fodder" is or isn't provided. However, the backlash against any critique of Clinton's donor relationships may have long-term political consequences. Every time liberals do cartwheels trying to defend Clinton on this issue, they are undercutting their own fundamental arguments against Citizens United and the influence of the likes of the Koch brothers.
Consider a recent op-ed by Joy Ann Reid in the Daily Beast, in which Reid claims the AP's reporting on the Clinton Foundation is just another "fake scandal" and a product of the "media's general Hillary Clinton loathing." There is no story, she argues -- just a spiteful media with an anti-Clinton agenda.
Reid's claims about Clinton being treated unfairly by the press are hard to accept. Reid -- one of her biggest advocates -- has been able to, within a five-day window, make this very case on the most recent episode of Meet the Press, during her own Sunday morning television show on MSNBC and in her aforementioned column. Reid's media appearances are just one example of how members of the media have come out to defend Clinton against every critique she has faced. Paul Begala, a former staffer for Bill Clinton, argued on CNN that the media has a "different standard for Clinton" and that the story was "politics at its worst." James Carville, another former staffer for President Bill Clinton suggested on MSNBC that "someone is going to hell," for criticizing the Clinton Foundation.
Clinton's "media problem" is not that the relationship is too adversarial, but that it is too compromised. How can we trust the dominant media to cover Clinton's potential conflicts of interest, when they are complicit in their own conflict of interest with the candidate? It is no wonder the "pay for play" allegations against Clinton at the State Department have largely been dismissed by pundits as, to quote Chuck Todd, just the way "American politics" works.