Stephanopoulos and the Revolving Door

It’s probably fair to say that George Stephanopoulos owes his career to the Clintons. What other nationally respected news anchor can say they got to where they are today without having to work their way up the small town, mid-size town, and national news network ladder?

Since learning that George Stephanopoulos has donated sizeably to the Clinton Foundation, Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer now reports the man’s relationship with the Clinton Foundation is much deeper than just a hefty donation.

Despite coming clean on a $75,000 donation, Stephanopoulos failed to disclose his multi-year role as a featured guest, moderator, and panelist at the annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

According to Schweizer, Stephanopoulos failed to disclose to his viewers the following affiliations:

  • Featured attendee at the 2007 CGI annual meeting, where several of the Clintons’ largest donors are featured
  • Panelist at the 2008 CGI annual meeting
  • Panel moderator at the 2009 CGI annual meeting
  • Official member of CGI in 2010 and 2011

The list goes on.

When asked whether ABC News would be informing viewers about these associations, it released a statement saying that, “Yes, George made us aware that he was moderating these panels and that is absolutely within our guidelines. We know that he would be listed as a member — as all moderators are. He is in good company of scores of other journalists that have moderated these panels.”

If all moderators are in fact listed as members, why wasn’t Stephanopoulos, who moderated in 2009, listed also as a member in that same year? I’m not sure that ABC’s statement helps to clarify at all, given the above dates and associations.

Members/panelists/moderators aside, the real issue here is the amount of power Stephanopoulos – ABC’s chief anchor and political correspondent – has at his disposal. For ABC to allow someone who is personally, politically, and financially involved with a Democratic presidential candidate to moderate or shape political discussion of any kind poses a flagrant conflict of interest.

No matter your political stripe, finding bias in today’s media is an easy task. There will inevitably be bias, as we’re all human. And Washington’s relationship with the media isn’t getting any less cozy. However, it’s people like Stephanopoulos that give the ‘revolving door’ metaphor a run for it’s money. George hasn’t just passed through the door; he’s made his bed in the doorway.