Fate has a nasty sense of humor sometimes. The single most engaging person in show business today at any level is Ali Wentworth (Schmoopie to Seinfeld devotees), former host of Yahoo’s Daily Shot, the best original production in the history of the Internet. I defy any honest viewer to see any episode of that show, or any of her public appearances, and not find her immensely likeable. In particular, I would recommend her coffee klatsch with Jerry Seinfeld on his new show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
And who does this absolutely delightful human being choose as a spouse? None other than the penultimate creep George Stephanopoulos (the title of “ultimate creep” is taken during Charles Schumer’s lifetime.) If that match was made in Heaven, it might have been through connections his father cultivated on high in his quarter-century as Dean of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral.
Well, there is no accounting for tastes. Personally I never baste lamb but I would not lambaste people who do. Hopefully we can keep liking Alexandra while heaping scorn upon her husband.
George showed up on the scene in 1991 as a lackey of the Bill Clinton campaign for President. He was a key player inside the War Room which fought the battles against “bimbo eruptions” and financial scandals. His title was “Communications Director,” presumably an adviser and spokesman, but on the trail everyone knew what that meant: he was down and dirty for the nastiest aspects of the campaign. He was not “advising” and “communicating” on economic policy or foreign policy; he was “advising” when to use brass knuckles and when to use blackjacks.
Once the campaign had succeeded and the Clintons took over the White House, George was given the same title in the West Wing. Generally the guys with dirty jobs in the campaign are rewarded with clean jobs in the Administration, but George was too valuable as “Communications Director.” Now he got to yell “f*** you” at really important people. (No one knows how to perform these jobs, so they wind up imitating the way people in movies act out the roles. Thus the conundrum where the movies try to portray reality but wind up dictating it.)
Eventually George became Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, doing the same thing with a dressed-up title. Fake designations for Administration hacks usually have a giveaway in the bureaucratic lingo, and in this case it is the word Strategy. Policy is civilian and Strategy is military. No one could imagine a heavyweight like Robert Reich on the Democrat side or John Bolton on the Republican side wearing an appellation so vacuous.
While in the White House George bought a home well beyond his means, which invited some scrutiny. The late columnist Jack Anderson questioned the propriety of the loan he received from NationsBank, and this publication followed up with an investigative article by Matt Labash in the October 1994 issue entitled “Buy George.” (See today’s Flashback.)
When George left the Clinton White House after the 1996 election, he morphed overnight into a disinterested journalist. With Clinton becoming discredited by the Monica Lewinsky revelations, the opportunistic Stephanopoulos waxed sanctimonious in his memoir, All Too Human. He pronounced his retrospective judgment that Bill Clinton had been “unworthy” of the Presidency.
Amazingly his wide-eyed son of a preacher shtick was able to sell this mess of pottage. Imagine the chutzpah! The man used his clout as a White House man to get a network job and then bought himself credibility by holding that very White House in contempt!
For years this bottom-feeding political operative has thrived as a top-tier journalistic figure. Long forgotten are both his service as a Bill and Hillary hatchet man and his subsequent axe murder of their reputation. Now he is a humble Clark Kent fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way. His primary colors have been replaced by black-and-white television. ABC pays him eight million dollars a year for his trouble.
Finally this pretense of objective reportage is being exposed. The word is out that George has been giving 25,000 dollars a year or more to the Clinton Foundation. He explains this is to support its work on “global AIDS prevention and deforestation,” two causes “dear to his heart.” Besides for the tortured syntax (are they in favor of deforestation or are they against AIDS prevention?) the very notion of the Foundation accomplishing these goals is absurd. Could someone please show us a chart showing how much AIDS has gone down since the Foundation began dedicating its billions to the cause?
Nah. This is simply Bill and Hillary putting the arm on George to pony up some bird dog money for pointing him to the Yellow Brick Road. And like David Brock and Christopher Ruddy and others who have attacked the Clintons in years past and now seek to curry favor, George is buying his way back into their good graces.
Stephanopoulos just reached the pinnacle of effrontery when he interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, on the air. At regular intervals in their dialogue George iterates the Hillary statement that the book offers “not a shred of evidence.” She should know, since she shredded it herself.
Now George is finally getting discredit where discredit is due and he has been disqualified from moderating Presidential debates. We love Ali for standing by her man but it is time we sent him skulking into the back alleys whence he slithered forth.
In honor of the engagement of my daughter Deborah to Joshua Heisler of Minneapolis.
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