Last week, a big to-do was made over the fact that the Clintons have made a lot of money speaking, consulting, and book dealing. The New York Times reported that the two “earned $109 million over the last eight years.”
The Times described this as “an ascent into the uppermost tier of American taxpayers” that had seemed “unimaginable” when this poor, beleaguered, bloodied couple “left the White House with little money and facing millions in legal bills.”
This became ridiculously big news. The Drudge Report blared “CLINTONS SHOW $109M IN INCOME SINCE LEAVING WHITE HOUSE.” The talk shows ate it up. Saturday Night Live opened with a sketch in which Bill and Hillary (played by Darrell Hammond and Amy Poehler) bragged about their extravagant earnings.
The SNL Hillary said that she was even considering dropping out because she could very well be the “wrong choice for millions of Americans who don’t seem able to make money.” These voters, she teased, might be better off with Barack Obama, so she would stand down. Really? “Psych! That’s never gonna happen,” said Poehler/Hillary.
Like most SNL political sketches, the bit poked fun not only at politicians but also the press. Why had this become “news” only recently, with the release of the Clintons’ tax returns?
Well, explained fake Hillary, “We made it hard for [reporters] to find out that we were rich by hiding out in our house in Westchester” with all that cash apparently tucked away in closets and under mattresses.
THE CLINTONS’ INCOME didn’t upset or shock me in the slightest. If anything, it was a bit surprising they hadn’t cracked $200 million. Maybe Bill has been taking it easy or devoting a lot of time to somebody’s campaign?
I was not shocked because this was old news — practically ancient, in fact. In R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s most recent book The Clinton Crack-Up, page five, paragraph two, we learn that in Bill Clinton’s “first four years out of the White House, he earned over $43 million after expenses…”
The next page directs us to Appendix I, a list of the conniving couple’s fees for speeches and book royalties and other income. The first three entries tell us that Bill earned $125,000, $150,000, and $125,000 for speeches to Morgan Stanley, the Aventura-Turnberry Jewish Center, and Oracle in February of 2001 and he wasn’t even done for the month. The list continues for ten pages.
The book was published in May of last year. You may wonder, how did Tyrrell (who, full disclosure, signs my paychecks; plus we share the same publisher) get his hands on this illuminating information?
Did he plant a mole in the Clinton campaign? Did he take off his tailored jacket and go diving through the Clintons’ trash for financial clues? Did he consult a psychic? No, I’m afraid it was less exotic than that. He simply looked at Hillary Clinton’s senatorial disclosure reports, which are required by law and fairly easy to access.
In other words, this was information that reporters and columnists could have got their hands on all along. And yet it wasn’t widely reported until last week, when the Clintons handed their tax returns to them on a silver platter. No one should ever mistake our political press for a curious press.
THE RECENT FLAP OVER the Clintons’ serious coin has Tyrrell scratching his head, and I can’t blame him. The worst criticism of The Clinton Crack-Up, which he bristles at, was that this was all “old news.” That usually works out to be journalist-speak for “don’t bother.”
OK, but if this was “old news” then, why is it suddenly hot and newsworthy? What’s changed? Hillary was then a candidate for president. She had already announced “I’m in. And I’m in to win.” The potential conflicts of interest with Bill’s speechifying and consulting existed then just as much as today.
Granted, there are usually write-ups when presidential contenders make their tax returns available, but the coverage falls far short of the full court press (pardon the pun) that the Clintons have received. What’s different now?
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