The self-appointed guardians of journalism often deny the existence of liberal media bias. The problem is wildly exaggerated, they have long said, even as Democratic aides like George Stephanopoulos have become reporters and reporters like Jay Carney have become Democratic aides.
The scandal of George Stephanopoulos donating to the Clinton Foundation while covering it is one more confirmation that conservatives have not overstated the problem of media bias. An equivalent offense by a Republican aide turned reporter would result in a hasty firing. But Stephanopoulos can count on his bosses to defend him to the hilt.
He has now apologized for making the donation, but the apology’s emphasis on his failure to go the “extra mile” in disclosing it indicates that he considers the matter minor. By putting his apology in those terms, he is suggesting that the real problem lies in the quickness of conservatives to perceive bias. In other words, he should have gone the “extra mile” in anticipation of that criticism but in a better world, a disclosure about donations to such a worthy “charity” wouldn’t be necessary.
Recognizing how bad this flap looks, a few liberal journalists are condemning Stephanopoulos and conceding what they denied before, that he is not a neutral reporter. But their disappointment in him only extends to this conflict of interest. On other conflict of interests, such as when his support for gay activism recently led him to browbeat Mike Pence for Indiana’s religious freedom law, they applauded his lack of objectivity.
For many in the mainstream media, “objectivity” is synonymous with liberalism. Had Stephanopoulos shown a little more circumspection with respect to the Clintons, he could have sustained his charade as an objective reporter. No doubt part of the Left’s disappointment in him is driven by the fear that he has undermined his value as a propagandist for liberal causes. He has already announced that he will not moderate any GOP presidential debates. Last time around, he won plaudits from the mainstream media for bizarrely pressing the Republican candidates on whether or not they supported his view of contraceptive rights.
In his memoirs, he acknowledged the depth of his social liberalism and expressed regret that the Clinton administration had temporized on certain hot-button social issues. Yet these commitments are never disclosed to viewers before he “covers” issues related to abortion and gay marriage. Nobody in the media criticized him for failing to disclose his gay-rights activism before grilling Mike Pence. Such moments of simultaneous advocacy and “reporting” have defined his career and he probably figured that his coverage of the Clinton Foundation would receive similar protection. After all, as he put it, he made the donations for the “best” of reasons.
The motivations of conservatives are suspect, in his view, but his motivations are pristine. He had no problem asking the author of Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer, about his “partisan interest” in the subject and his background as a speechwriter for “President Bush” and his funding from “the Koch brothers.” That he could defend the Clinton Foundation by such low means while leaving his audience in the dark as to his financial support for the foundation would forever discredit a reporter were the media not largely controlled by the Left.
ABC’s competitors aren’t likely to pounce on this act of malpractice, since they share his ideological sympathies and have tried to curry favor with the Clintons themselves. NBC was so desperate to win the favor of the Clintons it turned their daughter Chelsea into a “special correspondent” for a time. She was paid $600,000 to do stories under such impeccable journalistic mentors as Brian Williams.
Stephanopoulos is not the exception to the rule in the mainstream media. He is the rule. All of its leading luminaries support liberal causes in one way or the other. And the more powerful they get, the less they feel the need to hide that support. Earning over a $100 million for his role at ABC, Stephanopoulos probably saw himself as invincible, just as Dan Rather felt invincible enough to speak openly at Democratic fundraisers.
The American people don’t trust the media for good reason. Its claims to unique objectivity and service to the common good are largely bogus. Like Stephanopoulos, who now serves as its fitting symbol, the media is no less partisan and crooked than the politicians it pretends to cover.
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