By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Much of the media have been obsessed with “Bridgegate,” the local New Jersey story about traffic jams caused by the closing of some lanes on the George Washington Bridge leading into Manhattan—and other potential scandals—simply because the person who figures into it most—Chris Christie—is the governor, and was considered by many to be the Republican with the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton in a 2016 matchup.
“The fact is that we have to take these guys on directly,” Christie shot back at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. “You know, I’m shy and retiring and I don’t like to speak my mind, especially regarding the media. But what we need to start saying is…that we’re not going to put up any longer with them defining who we are.”
Politico was quick to point out that this was the first time that Christie had given a speech “to a crowd of base Republican voters since his administration was roiled by scandal.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who has been among the most obsessive about Bridgegate, told a late-night talk-show host this week that the reason it is so captivating is “I think in part because it’s not over and we still don’t know what happened.” By that standard, she should really want to sink her teeth into this latest Hillary Clinton controversy, which is already bordering on being a full-fledged scandal.
A local Washington D.C. political scandal that has Mayor Vincent Gray in the hot seat has expanded to ensnare the Clinton campaign machine, with actual evidence that illegal money was used to support her 2008 presidential primary campaign to defeat Barack Obama in the Democratic primary. But the former first lady and secretary of state claims that she had no knowledge of these actions, so she is, of course, exonerated by most of the mainstream media. “A campaign adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton was involved in an off-the-books operation to help the former first lady’s 2008 presidential campaign in four states and Puerto Rico, according to federal court documents,” reports CBS News. Will this get enduring wall-to-wall coverage on par with Bridgegate? We doubt it.
“Prosecutors said that from February to May 2008, [Jeffrey] Thompson used two firms to disburse $608,750 in ‘excessive and unreported contributions to pay for campaign services in coordination with and in support of a federal political candidate for president of the United States and the federal and the candidate’s authorized committee,’” reports The Washington Times. “That candidate was Mrs. Clinton.” Thompson pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges on March 10. CBS News confirmed that the $600,000 in contributions were never reported to the Federal Election Commission.
The Clinton advisor in question is Minyon Moore. A spokeswoman for the public affairs firm where she works, Dewey Square Group (DSG), was quick to defend her, saying that “In fact she [Moore] asked Thompson to contribute and raise money directly for the campaign so the campaign could afford to execute a field program in constituent communities. Her actions were legal.”
“Furthermore, she was never aware Jeffrey Thompson paid Troy White or any other vendor outside of the campaign,” said the DSG spokeswoman to CNN.
DSG has a vested interest in proving Moore’s actions were legal; The Washington Post reported in September 2013 that “At the time [that she was a senior advisor on the Clinton’s 2008 campaign], she [Moore] was working at Dewey Square Group as state and local director. Clinton’s campaign paid the firm nearly $420,000 for strategic consulting, according to campaign finance records.”
“A federal government source would not comment on whether Moore had aided the investigation or if she could be charged in the future for the campaign with Thompson,” reports CNN, which carried DSG’s statement but ignored the financial connection.
Moore’s role in the conspiracy is somewhat suspicious. “But Thompson, in his discussions with authorities, depicted Moore as playing a far more intimate role in the off-the-books campaign than was previously indicated—securing the money and helping guide the strategy by feeding internal campaign documents and receiving messages about the media coverage,” remarks The Washington Post.
But as in the Benghazi scandal, it seems that if there is an issue, it’s not supposed to reach high enough to tarnish this infallible presidential hopeful. CBS and other news outlets are quick to point out that “Prosecutors have said they have no evidence that Clinton was aware of the get-out-the-vote operation.”
Yet The Washington Post writes, “What really matters is not whether the Clinton campaign knew about the effort but whether it can be tied to or knew about the illegal aspect of it.”
The National Journal pushed back, in an article entitled “Clintonworld Goes After The Washington Post.” They quoted “Burns Strider, a longtime Clinton aide who now works with the pro-Clinton rapid-response group Correct the Record,” who “called the allegations ‘bizarre and brazenly false.’ Strider defended Moore, with whom he’s worked over the years, and called The Post’s reporting ‘irresponsible.’”
Added Strider, “I think it’s horseshit. I think The Washington Post is acting like some kind of an Internet blog or something instead of doing real reporting.” He said, “I think it’s pretty clear through everything that’s come out that [Moore] didn’t do anything wrong and has been exonerated and has been fully helpful in the case, and that’s the bottom line.”
The National Journal reported that the Post told them that “the story is based on publicly available documents,” and that they gave Moore “ample time to reply.”
Clinton’s role in the Benghazi scandal would be enough to destroy her chances to become president, if the news media were to just do their job. But they see their occupation in a different way: to protect and help elect favored Democratic candidates. Thus, CBS writes, “Any connection to the case could provide fodder for Republicans who already are mobilizing to undercut another Clinton campaign.” In other words, any detractors of Clinton are just trying to win political points. The press is trying to inoculate readers against any chance that Clinton might become ensnared in another scandal.
The proof will come in the following days and weeks. Let’s see if the press corps waits outside every place that Hillary goes, to ask her what she knew and when. And will Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Chris Matthews start spending segment after segment examining emails, and interviewing critics of Mrs. Clinton to try to get to the bottom of this?
I think we already know the answers. The only question is, how quickly can they sweep this under the rug, and dismiss this as sexism, or whatever the Andrea Mitchells of the world will use to ignore or bury this story.
This is not the first time that donors have proven a political liability for Clinton. In 2007, she “took the unprecedented step of returning $850,000 in contributions raised by Norman Hsu, a top campaign bundler who was wanted on criminal charges in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme,” reports The Washington Times. Hsu also served as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
We documented that and other funny-money scandals that Hillary’s been involved in which, if covered by the press with the interest and intensity that they have shown towards Bridgegate, might have ended her dreams of returning to the White House in the role of president. But the media have an agenda, and are therefore content to ignore the Clinton connections and pretend that dirty money doesn’t ever touch this family.