Weasel words from a weasel

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos failed to disclose his $75,000 in contributions and other connections to the Clinton Foundation as he interrogated Peter Schweizer regarding his book Clinton Cash. He didn’t mention his work as a campaign operative and administration official on behalf of Bill Clinton either, but ABC viewers are apparently assumed to bring that knowledge to the table. (Wrong, but who are we to judge?)

When Stephanopoulos’s contributions to the Clinton Foundation were discovered by the Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles and leaked by Stephanopoulos, or on his behalf by ABC public relations, to Politico, Stephanopoulos prepared a statement that amounted to old-fashioned damage control. Paul Mirengoff subjected the heart of Stephanopoulos’s statement to close analysis and declared it a “dubious apology.” ABC has declared itself satisfied. Higher-ups have looked into Stephanopoulos’s heart and concluded he made “an honest mistake.”

Stephanopoulos read his statement in the course of his duties on Good Morning America on Friday (video below) and again yesterday on This Week with the Democratic Operative (video here), the scene of the crime.

The statement doesn’t quite rise to the level of “Good fences make good neighbors.” Like the old man in Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” however, Stephanopoulos liked having thought of it so well, he said it again. Mediate has posted the video here.

Something there is that doesn’t love a weasel, at least out here in flyover land. Here is Stephanopoulos’s statement as read out on GMA (via the New York Daily News):

Now I want to address some news you may have seen about me. Over the last several years I’ve made substantial donations to dozens of charities, including the Clinton Global Foundation. Those donations were a matter of public record but I should have made additional disclosures on air when we covered the foundation.

And I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake. Even though I made them strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children and protect the environment in poor countries, I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.

Stephanopoulos wraps his statement in a profession of his great generosity, of which the Clinton Foundation was coincidentally an additional beneficiary. He made the donations over the past three years only to support worthy causes: to heal the sick, protect the weak and feed the starving. Make room for the apostle George.

Nevertheless, Stephanopoulos gave a somewhat more jaded account of contributions to the Clinton Foundations only last month to Jon Stewart. At that time, before the Free Beacon had dug out the record of Stephanopoulos’s contributions to the Clinton Foundation, Stephanopoulos lucidly explained: “But everybody also knows when those donors give that money, President Clinton or someone, they get a picture with him, there is a hope that is going to lead to something.” Everybody knows!

This is all before we get to the proposition that Stephanopoulos’s failure to disclose the contributions in connection with the Schweizer interrogation represented a failure to go “the extra mile.” It didn’t represent a failure to comply with the fundamental requirements of honesty and integrity (or ABC News policy). I believe the technical term of art that applies here, as explicated by William Voegeli, is “bullshit.”