CNN carried an op-ed today in its Opinion section titled, “Hillary Clinton revived America’s reputation in world.” The piece, by Eleni Kounalakis, was a paean to Hillary’s wonderfulness as Secretary of State. It took issue with those who say she has no accomplishments:
In a recent opinion piece posted on CNN, Carly Fiorina launched a deeply unfair and profoundly inaccurate attack on Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state. Fiorina went so far as to insinuate that Hillary Clinton did not have even one single accomplishment in that role. She could not be more wrong. I should know; I served with her as U.S. ambassador to Hungary and watched her fight for the American people every day.
As a diplomat, she wielded the star power of one of the world’s most well-known female leaders. And finally, she had the right kind of work ethic, the right brand of wonkiness, to be embraced quickly by her 70,000 new employees at the State Department.
For three and a half years at my post in Budapest, I started my mornings reading Clinton’s daily schedule. Hillary Clinton traveled to more countries than any other secretary in the history of the department, logging nearly a million miles and visiting 112 nations. She visited countries that hadn’t had a U.S. secretary of state visit for up to five decades (Laos) or ever (Togo). After all, America can never have enough friends.
In short, here is my answer to Fiorina’s question:
Diplomatically, without bluster or bullying, without stealing headlines or focusing on her own legacy, Hillary Clinton rebuilt the network of American relationships around the globe. This is certainly her most important legacy and fundamental to the future of American leadership in the world.
A rousing testament to Hillary, if a little short on specifics. This is how CNN described Ms. Kounalakis:
Eleni Kounalakis was United States ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. She is the author of “Madam Ambassador, Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner and Democracy in Budapest,” published by The New Press. She is a senior adviser to the Albright Stonebridge Group.
Sophisticated readers have some idea what it takes to be an ambassador, especially to a desirable posting like Budapest. But to most readers, the op-ed no doubt appeared to have been penned by a disinterested and distinguished foreign service officer, reporting objectively on her own observation of what a great job Hillary did.
That impression would have been seriously compromised if CNN had told the whole story. While CNN’s description of Kounalakis’s career included no reference to Democratic Party politics, the fact is that she raised more than $1 million in support of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign:
Although a case could be made that she, like many ambassadors before her, was tapped only because of her political activism—and the more than $1 million she helped raise as head of Greek-Americans for Hillary Clinton—Tsakopoulos Kounalakis brings to her post professional and personal experience well suited to navigating the challenges her new job presents.
Kounalakis’s op-ed wouldn’t have had quite the same stature if CNN had disclosed the fact that she was one of Hillary’s top fundraisers, a fundraiser who was paid off with an ambassadorship, and therefore hardly an objective observer of Hillary’s successes (or lack thereof) as Secretary of State.