A Stephanopoulos sidebar

George Stephanopoulos is a Democratic operative in the guise of a television journalist. He served Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in a senior position and was duly rewarded with a high office advising Clinton as president. When he grilled Peter Schweizer on his reportage in Clinton Cash, however, Stephanopoulos mentioned none of this.

Stephanopoulos omitted any mention of his own service over a period of years directly on behalf of one of the parties under critical examination in Schweizer’s book. Yet he questioned Schweizer on his brief work in the Bush administration, asking whether it betrayed the fairness of his reportage. I thought this was an outrageous joke, and said so here on Power Line on the day of the interview.

Now it comes to light that Stephanopoulos has contributed handsomely to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, a fact that he also omitted from disclosure in connection with his interview of Schweizer. Stephanopoulos claims the omission was an innocent oversight and ABC has adopted this declaration as its own.

On the basis of what facts has ABC made this finding? They aren’t saying.

Jack Shafer concisely summarizes the circumstances that brought Stephanopoulos’s contributions to light in a column for Politico Magazine. Politico’s Dylan Byers was the first to report the contributions, so Shafer’s contribution is of particular interest:

A worthy side note to the Stephanopoulos exposé is contained in its genesis. The story appears to have originated at the Washington Free Beacon, which asked ABC News for comment about the Stephanopoulos contributions last night. The next thing the Free Beacon knew, POLITICO had broken the story this morning. Free Beacon writer Andrew Stiles and site editor Matthew Continetti accused Stephanopoulos’ office and ABC of shipping the scoop to POLITICO. I sent email to ABC News seeking clarification on this point and did not hear back. I also asked Byers about the origin of his scoop to which he responded, “I’m not going to be able to talk about matters related to sourcing.”

If ABC News shopped the scoop, as the Beaconites claim, it wouldn’t be the first time that a news organization has been so preempted. Government and business play this retaliatory game all the time when journalists surprise them with a request for comment. What’s unbecoming is that a news organization might engage in this practice.

Come to think of it, that’s precisely the type of thing you could imagine the Stephanopoulos-era Clinton administration doing without compunction.

Leaking the story to Byers, either ABC or Stephanopoulos himself performed the work of a flack doing damage control. If it was Stephanopoulos who leaked the story to Byers, or ABC at Stephanopoulos’s suggestion, Stephanopoulos would simply be reverting to form.


Books to read from Power Line