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TIME magazine’s Philip Elliott misleadingly called Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash “heavily researched” in an article about the book's film adaptation, despite the book’s numerous errors and the author’s history of shoddy reporting and partisan ties.
Schweizer’s book, which alleged supposed corruption by the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, had more than 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions and was dismissed by many media outlets and figures -- including TIME itself -- for lacking evidence to back up its charges. Schweizer is a Republican activist and strategist with a history of faulty reporting.
In a May 12 article, Elliott wrote that the film was based “on a heavily researched book by the same name,” and is “careful in laying out a series of facts that are mostly true, though both the book and the movie sometimes draws connections and conclusions that aren’t as solid as their evidence.” Elliott admitted the book and movie make “impossible to prove” assumptions, yet concluded that “as a work of persuasion, the movie is likely to leave on-the-fence Clinton supporters who see it feeling more unsure about casting a vote for her”:
It would be easy to dismiss an hour-long film adaptation of Peter Schweizer’s book about the charitable-political-nonprofit complex of Bill and Hillary Clinton as nothing more than conservative propaganda. But sitting in a Manhattan screening room late Wednesday, it quickly became clear that conservatives weren’t the intended audience for Clinton Cash.
Environmentalists. Anti-nuke activists. Gay-rights advocates. Good-government folks. They’re all going to find themselves increasingly uncomfortable over claims that the likely Democratic nominee, in the film’s words, takes cash from the “darkest, worst corners of the world.”
The 60-minute indictment of the Clintons will soon find its way to an awful lot of televisions ahead of November’s elections. Based on a heavily researched book by the same name, Clinton Cash is careful in laying out a series of facts that are mostly true, though both the book and the movie sometimes draws connections and conclusions that aren’t as solid as their evidence.
“When it comes to the Clintons, you have to follow the money,” Schweizer says in a rough-cut previewed for TIME.
No doubt, there are many places where dotted lines are smudged into solid ones, and some assumptions are made where concrete evidence of quid pro quo is impossible to prove. But as a work of persuasion, the movie is likely to leave on-the-fence Clinton supporters who see it feeling more unsure about casting a vote for her. Made by the conservative Breitbart News’ executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, and director M.A. Taylor, this film rises above the traditional campaign hit job.
Unlike Hillary, Clinton Cash is a more narrowly focused production with a clear-cut thesis that it repeats through a litany of perceived shifty associations. One alleges that that the Clintons helped the Russian nuke agency get control of 20% of American uranium as part of a deal that involves a Canadian billionaire, Kazakhstan mining officials and Vladimir Putin. Another claims that the Clintons got into bed with African strongmen with horrendous human rights records. “Paul Kigali is a friend of Bill Clinton’s,” the film tells audiences of Rwanda’s leader and suggests the Clintons are engaging in neo-colonialism in exploiting African countries’ natural resources.
The film also accuses Hillary Clinton of flip-flopping on the Keystone XL pipeline after an investor booked Bill Clinton for lucrative speeches. Schweizer also says Clinton’s State Department spared Sweden’s Ericsson of troubles over selling technology to Iran after it, too, booked Bill Clinton for a paid talk. The list goes on: that Bill Clinton pocketed KGB money, a mining company put Hillary brother, Tony Rodham, on its board after it won concessions.
The individual facts are largely true and based on widely reported events and public documents. The conclusions, however, are not as cut-and-dried as the film makes them out to be when assembled together. In general, the film’s reasoning is that if one thing followed another, it was a case of cause-and-effect.
This is not a movie that is going to dissuade the #imwithher crowd from supporting Clinton. But it is a movie that might keep disaffected liberals at home, energize the Sanders supporters to keep up the fight even after their preferred candidate bows to reality and serve up new fodder for conservative talking heads on cable news. This isn’t a game-changing movie, but one that could keep some less enthusiastic voters on the sidelines.