Under the suggestive headline "Quid Pro Clinton?" today's Washington Post gravely editorializes about former President Clinton's fundraising on behalf of his charitable foundation:
What has always been worrisome is that such prodigious fundraising could set up the potential of someone looking to curry favor with Ms. Clinton by making a sizable donation to Mr. Clinton's organization. Even the appearance of a conflict could call into question the motives of both Clintons and the donor.
A prime example emerged this week as a result of Mr. Clinton disclosing his contributors as part of an agreement with Mr. Obama that smoothed Ms. Clinton's nomination.
Sounds ominous, doesn't it?
But in describing the "prime example," the Post essentially rebuts itself, saving us the trouble:
The New York Times reported Sunday that upstate New York developer Robert J. Congel gave $100,000 to Mr. Clinton's foundation in November 2004, one month after enactment of a law, first supported by Ms. Clinton in 2000, that gave Mr. Congel access to tax-exempt "green bonds" to build the Destiny USA shopping complex in Syracuse. Nine months later Ms. Clinton secured $5 million in funding for road construction at the complex. We hasten to point out that Ms. Clinton was joined by other members of the New York delegation in urging passage of both bills, including the state's senior senator, Charles E. Schumer (D). [Emphasis added]
Got that? Hillary Clinton has supported a law giving Congel access to bonds to build a shopping complex in Syracuse since 2000. Other members of the New York delegation joined her in supporting the the complex. In 2004 -- four years after Clinton began supporting the law -- Congel gave $100,000 to Bill Clinton's foundation.
And in that, the Washington Post sees a "prime example" of the "appearance of a conflict" that could call both Clintons' motives into question.
The Post would have us believe that in 2000, Hillary Clinton supported a law in hopes that four years later a developer would make a contribution to her husband's foundation that would account for about two one-hundredths of one percent of the foundation's total fundraising. If that's a quid pro quo, it's a spectacularly unambitious one.
"While Mr. Clinton's fundraising has been an appearance of a conflict waiting to happen with his wife a senator, it will only get worse and more troublesome once Ms. Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state," the Post concludes. This, at least, is hard to argue with: If the Congel donation is the most troublesome thing the Post can find, it's certainly hard to imagine the situation getting less troublesome.
UPDATE: According to this New York Times article by Charlie Savage, Clinton did not support the "green bonds" in 2000, she supported "other tax breaks for a Carousel mall expansion to create jobs" that year. That doesn't change the point of this post; the Washington Post thinks Clinton supported the green bonds in 2000, and that constitutes a conflict because of Congel's contribution four years later.
Articles by The Washington Times and CNN.com reported that Attorney General-designate Eric Holder has come under criticism from Senate Republicans and that Holder's confirmation hearings will be "bruising" and "grueling," respectively, without noting that Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has reportedly said he will support Holder's confirmation.
To discuss the work of former Laura Bush flack and Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm, who wrote glowingly about Laura Bush this week while failing to inform readers that he used to work for her. Oh my.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein suggests we need yet another blogger ethics panel to address a different LA Times editorial miscue this week.
On Hardball, Pat Buchanan said of Roland Burris' appointment to the Senate and the Senate leadership's refusal to seat him: "[W]hy does [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid not want this guy? Why can't he get elected? Because he's an African-American." However, neither Matthews nor Buchanan mentioned that Reid stated -- well before Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris -- that the Senate would consider rejecting anyone appointed by Blagojevich. Nor did they mention that Reid previously denied that his opposition to Burris was based on race.
Lou Dobbs Tonight baselessly included Al Franken in a segment on, in host Lou Dobbs' words, "Democratic Party scandals and downright bad behavior." During both Dobbs' teaser for and introduction of a report by CNN correspondent Casey Wian, CNN ran on-screen text reading "Dems Behaving Badly" over video footage that included Franken. During the portion of Wian's report on the Minnesota recount, on-screen text read, "Dems behaving badly: Democrats rocked by party scandals."
Discussing President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Leon Panetta to head the CIA, Michael Savage asserted, "[M]aybe Bill Ayers picked Leon Panetta." He later asked, "Is it Bill Ayers and his crowd in Chicago who said 'Pick Panetta. He's a man we can trust'?"
In an ABC World News report, David Wright said that "[q]uestions have ... been raised" about Sen. Hillary Clinton's support for an earmark that benefited a New York developer who gave money to Bill Clinton's foundation in 2004. Wright did not note that Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines has reportedly said that she "did not solicit the donation from Mr. Congel or discuss it with him or anyone on his behalf, and that she was unaware of its timing and size until last month."
Is it me, or is the Beltway press forever concerned when Democrats play hardball and use tough language in partisan battles with Republicans, in a way that the press never seems to mind when the GOP lets the invective fly?
Sunday's MTP was a perfect example. Host David Gregory pressed U.S. Senate Leader Sen. Harry Reid about tough language he'd used in the past in describing the most unpopular president since modern polling was created nearly one century ago:
Before you go, do you have any regrets about the way you have publicly battled with President Bush? Over the years you've called him a liar, a loser, and you've described him as, quote, our worst president ever.
Reid, for the record expressed no regrets.
What's so odd is that I'm thinking back to January of 2001, and I can't recall the MTP moderator pressing leading Republicans if they had any "regrets" about the nearly non-stop insults they had heaped on the sitting Democratic president, who at the time of his exit was the most popular president to ever leave the Oval Office.
See the double standard? When Harry Reid pointed out a widely accepted fact, that Bush is considered by many to be among the worst president's ever, Gregory wanted to know if the Democrat had any regrets; had he gone too far. But when Republicans spent nearly eight years trying to dehumanize Bill Clinton, MTP remained mostly mum.
BTW: Why did CNN pretend that Reid went on NBC on Sunday and ranted about Bush, calling him the worst president ever? CNN's dispatch clearly suggested that Reid wouldn't let Bush leave office peacefully, when in truth it was Gregory who brought up the old Reid quotes about Bush.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Alberto Gonzales "was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials," falsely suggesting that only members of Congress have publicly criticized Gonzales over his actions as attorney general. The Journal also quoted Gonzales asking, "What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" The Journal did not note that a report by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General on the firings of nine U.S. attorneys concluded that Gonzales' congressional testimony on the subject was "not true" and recommended that a special counsel be appointed to investigate whether any crimes were committed with regard to testimony on the scandal.
On NBC's Nightly News, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd suggested that findings in an internal report on President-elect Obama's top advisers' contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff were inconsistent with Obama's previous statements suggesting that he would have a "hands-off" approach to the selection of his replacement in the U.S. Senate. But neither Guthrie nor Todd mentioned statements in the report that appear to contradict their suggestion.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed asserted in a column that she "hears rumbles President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds -- dealing with his boss' vacant Senate seat!" Sneed added: "A lot of chit-chat? Hot air? Or trouble? To date, Rahm's been mum. Stay tuned." Despite the complete absence of sourcing, many in the media have run with Sneed's assertion, in some cases simply quoting Sneed, in others, paraphrasing the assertion, and in still others, actually expanding on it.
To trumpet the release of the Obama report regarding Blago contacts, CNN went into hyperventilating mode.
The on-screen graphic [emphasis added]: "Breaking News: Team Obama Reveals Secret Report".
Simple question for CNN, what's secret about the report?
Mike Allen preps the release of the internal Obama report regarding contact between his staff and Blago's re: filling his U.S. senate seat. The press has been hyping the issue, and the pending report, beyond recognition, with all sorts of claims the new Democratic team has become ensnared and that dark clouds have descended.
Reporters now, it seems, don't even bother to offer up evidence when suggesting Obama has been tainted by the soggy story. Here's Allen [emphasis added]:
The complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose conversations had been secretly taped by federal investigators, tested the smoothly running Obama transition, with some Democrats fretting that the case presents a distraction that could last into the new administration.
Number of Democrats quoted or mentioned in the article suggesting the Blago "distraction" could drag on? Zero.
Number of Democrats even quoted or mentioned in the entire article, period? Zero.
Neat trick, right?
First, what's the nation's most pressing issue? On Matthews' weekend syndicated show, the first topic up for discussion was Obama's relations with the press. Because, as Crooks and Liars noted, "it's all about the media, dontcha know?"
Second, that's where Matthews compared Obama to Nixon and Bush. Both Republicans displayed an open contempt for the media (with Nixon, it was more of an unhinged hatred), and Matthews suggested Obama (aka "this guy") was going to be just like them.
Third, it's curious that Obama hasn't even taken office yet and already Matthews was harping on the president-elect's press relations. I'd sure be interested to see, during Bush's eight years in office, how many panel discussion the Chris Matthews Show hosted to complain about how Bush treated the press. We doubt there were many during the Lapdog days.
The ABC anchor scored a coup over the weekend with his report re: Rahm Emanuel's contact with Blago and his top aides about Obama's vacant U.S. senate seat. Most news outlets, like the AP, remain in heavy breathing mode, suggesting Emanuel's contacts could lead to all sorts of political trouble for Obama.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, [Blago's Chief of Staff John] Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.
Seems like that represents something of a story/innuendo killer. We'll see if the Village plays dumb or not.