MSNBC continues to host Hitchens to target the Clintons

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

Christopher Hitchens made another appearance on MSNBC and again targeted the Clintons, claiming: "No other president has had a senator on hand in the Senate who does favors for businessmen who are later found to have given large donations from upstate New York to the Clinton Foundation. Is it a case of buy one, get one free? I would maintain that it is." But neither Hitchens nor 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster pointed out that according to The New York Times article to which Hitchens was referring, Hillary Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines "said that Mrs. Clinton did not solicit the donation from" the businessman "or discuss it with him or anyone on his behalf, and that she was unaware of its timing and size until last month."

During the January 13 edition of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, MSNBC again hosted commentator and author Christopher Hitchens, who again targeted the Clintons. Hitchens claimed of former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton: "No other president has had a senator on hand in the Senate who does favors for businessmen who are later found to have given large donations from upstate New York to the Clinton Foundation. Is it a case of buy one, get one free? I would maintain that it is." Hitchens was referring to a January 4 New York Times article that reported: "An upstate New York developer [Robert J. Congel] donated $100,000 to former president Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project." But neither Hitchens nor host David Shuster pointed out that according to the Times article, Hillary Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines "said that Mrs. Clinton 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." Nor did they note that the Times reported in its article that Clinton supported tax breaks for Congel's project during her 2000 campaign, four years before Congel's donation to Bill Clinton's foundation.

As Media Matters for America has documented, MSNBC has repeatedly hosted Hitchens to make false or baseless statements to smear the Clintons.

During the segment, host David Shuster played a video clip of Clinton at her confirmation hearing saying of the disclosure of contributors to the William J. Clinton Foundation: "No president has ever disclosed the contributions to his foundation. So when my husband agreed to disclose the contributions to his foundation, that was a very unprecedented event." Following the clip, Shuster asked Hitchens: "Christopher, she's going to do it [disclose contributors] -- the Clinton Foundation is going to do it once a year. Why isn't that enough?" Hitchens responded in part by saying: "No other president has had a senator on hand in the Senate who does favors for businessmen who are later found to have given large donations from upstate New York to the Clinton Foundation. Is it a case of buy one, get one free? I would maintain that it is."

Shuster later read from the January 4 Times article, saying, "Here's the issue -- and I -- we're taking this directly from something Christopher Hitchens put on his website. This is a New York Times report -- I believe it's from about eight days ago. This is The New York Times. This is the lead story of their story: '[A]n upstate New York developer donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project.' " But Shuster did not note that the article also reported that Reines had said that Hillary Clinton had not solicited that donation, nor did Shuster point out that the article reported that Clinton had a prior history of support for tax breaks for Congel's project.

From the January 13 edition of MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

SHUSTER: Clinton sailed smoothly through an array of issues, but she did face some tough questioning about potential conflicts of interest involving her husband's foundation fundraising.

Joining us to talk about that and other issues related to Hillary Clinton are Christopher Hitchens of Vanity Fair and Lanny Davis, former White House special counsel to President Clinton. The most striking exchange, gentlemen, both of you, came today on this issue of donors to Bill Clinton's foundation. Watch.

[begin video clip]

CLINTON: I want to speak for a minute, if I can, about the work that is done because I think it's important --

SEN. DAVID VITTER (R-LA): Mr. Chairman, I have no objection listening to this, but I'd like it not to come out of my time, because I'd like to pursue these questions.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, I guess -- I mean, it's fair to say that if you ask a question, you deserve an answer, and the answer traditionally comes out of the time of the senator.

VITTER: Well, I'm still waiting for the answer. I'd love an answer. So, it's a yes or no: Would you support expanding that disclosure?

CLINTON: No president has ever disclosed the contributions to his foundation. So when my husband agreed to disclose the contributions to his foundation, that was a very unprecedented event.

[end video clip]

SHUSTER: Christopher, she's going to do it -- the Clinton Foundation is going to do it once a year. Why isn't that enough?

HITCHENS: Well, because, to borrow from her point about precedent -- no other president has ever been found selling his pardon power to the highest bidder. No other president has had a senator on hand in the Senate who does favors for businessmen who are later found to have given large donations from upstate New York to the Clinton Foundation. Is it a case of buy one, get one free? I would maintain that it is.

It's a needless embarrassment to our foreign policy -- to our country, in fact. I don't know why the president is doing this to himself. It's also handing the secretary-ship to someone who has political ambitions of her own, that are not congruent with his, which is a sordid and boring thing to have to watch. We've already just been through all that. And it exposes us to the charge that foreign governments and shady businessmen can buy influence on American foreign policy, and that that charge is not groundless.

SHUSTER: Lanny?

DAVIS: Well, I have to respectfully disagree. First of all, Barack Obama showed great judgment, and -- almost unanimously across the spectrum -- that Hillary Clinton was qualified to be secretary of state, will be an effective secretary of state, and would act with integrity, meaning, won't be conflicted and influenced by anything that's given to her husband.

Secondly, Bill Clinton has used this money from foreign governments and from others to save people's lives with AIDS and for a lot of good works around the world. So, I think that the disclosure issue, when it comes down to it, Bill Clinton said, "I'll do what it takes to be sure that people have trust in my wife," and I think --

SHUSTER: Well, I think --

DAVIS: -- Barack Obama was --

HITCHENS: That's the --

DAVIS: -- pleased with what he had committed to and agreed with it.

SHUSTER: Here's the issue -- and I -- we're taking this directly from something Christopher Hitchens put on his website. This is a New York Times report -- I believe it's from about eight days ago. This is The New York Times. This is the lead story of their story: "[A]n upstate New York developer donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project."

DAVIS: I wrote about this in my book, as the syllogism goes as follows, of what you just read: The rooster crows. The sun rises. Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise. Hillary Clinton helping this particular individual has no causal relationship to the individual helping to do good works around the world. And if you believe it does have a causal relationship, I don't deny there's a possibility that the rooster causes the sun to rise, but it's also possible that they are simply parallel paths of two events. Hillary Clinton has integrity and Bill Clinton --

HITCHENS: You're not coming to this for the first time.

DAVIS: -- Bill Clinton has helped people around the world --

HITCHENS: We're not coming to this for the first time. We have to break into Latin for a minute as you knew we would have to. There's quid pro quo --

DAVIS: There's the Latin.

HITCHENS: There is quid pro quo that everyone understands --

DAVIS: This is pro quo -- pro -- pro quo quo --

HITCHENS: -- and then there's post hoc propter hoc, which is what you're proposing --

DAVIS: OK.

HITCHENS: -- which is that --

DAVIS: Well done.

HITCHENS: -- you can't prove a connection. Now, I'm sorry to say that I don't believe that the donation from the Rich family -- wonderfully named duo -- to the Clinton Foundation and library is unrelated to the special treatment they got at pardon time. I'm sorry. I just am not as innocent in my attitude as that, and I think I would have to say that I don't think you are either, Mr. Davis.

Posted In
Government, The Senate
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Christopher Hitchens, David Shuster
Show/Publication
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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