The Hunting of The President: The Sequel

HuntingThe conservative media entertainment complex came of age during the Bill Clinton administration, and its scandal mongering on White Water and numerous other non-scandals — for which Kenneth Starr’s successor as Independent Counsel, Robert Ray, released a report in September 2000 stating that “This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct” — led the supposed “gatekeepers “of the mainstream media to abandon all previous standards and principles of journalism to engage in The Hunting of the President. I would strongly encourage everyone to re-read the book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons or to view a video of the documentary film.

History is about to repeat itself. POLITICO Tiger Beat on the Potomac reports today New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton research:

The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have made exclusive agreements with a conservative author for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton, a move that has confounded members of the Clinton campaign and some reporters, the On Media blog has confirmed.

Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” will debut on May 5. But the Times, the Post and Fox have already made arrangements with author Peter Schweizer to pursue some of the material included in his book, which seeks to draw connections between Clinton Foundation donations and speaking fees and Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative research group, and previously served as an adviser to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Fox News’ use of Schweizer’s book has surprised no one. The bulk of the network’s programming is conservative, and the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, is owned by News Corporation. But the Times and Post’s decision to partner with a partisan researcher has raised a few eyebrows. Some Times reporters view the agreement as unusual, sources there said. Still others defended the agreement, noting that it was no different from using a campaign’s opposition research to inform one’s reporting — so long as that research is fact-checked and vetted. A spokesperson for the Times did not provide comment by press time.

In an article about the book on Monday, the Times said “Clinton Cash” was “potentially more unsettling” than other conservative books about Clinton “both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.”

That’s a rather circular argument by The Times: because we agreed to an exclusive agreement with the author, this makes this “potentially more unsettling”? It’s important because The Times is doing it? Please.

Remember that it was The Times, routinely derided by conservatives as the “librul” media, that did the early reporting on White Water and abandoned its role as  a “gatekeeper” of the mainstream media by engaging in scandal mongering over White Water and other non-scandals. Geezus, The Times Maureen Dowd got her start as a columnist in 1995 and developed her patented “mean girls” style with a series of columns about the Monica Lewinkski scandal, which continues to this day. (I stopped reading MoDo well over a decade ago).

The Times witch hunt failed — none of its non-scandals resulted in charges against the Clintons. Is this latest project part of a long simmering resentment at The Times to finally get the Clintons after all these years? And can anyone reasonably view this as “journalism”?

Both the Times and the Post initially did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. However, at 2 p.m., hours after the initial publication of this item, spokespeople from both newspapers sent statements in which editors defended the decisions to work with Schweizer.

“We had access to some material in the book, but we wanted to do our own reporting,” Times Washington bureau chief and political director Carolyn Ryan said.

“We made an arrangement with Peter Schweizer’s publisher so we could read his book before publication because we are always willing to look at new information that could inform our coverage,” said Post National Editor Cameron Barr. “Mr. Schweizer’s background and his point of view are relevant factors, but not disqualifying ones. What interests us more are his facts and whether they can be the basis for further reporting by our own staff that would be compelling to our readers. There is no financial aspect to this arrangement.” [A doubtful claim to obtain exclusivity. There is a quid pro quo of some kind.]

On Monday, a source with knowledge of the arrangements told the On Media blog that CBS’ “60 Minutes” and ABC News turned down offers for similar exclusive access to portions of the book’s contents. A “60 Minutes” spokesperson said only, “We do not discuss the stories we are working on.” An ABC News spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

HarperCollins is marketing “Clinton Cash” as a “meticulously researched” book that “raises serious questions of judgment, of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests, and ultimately, of fitness for high public office.”

* * *

Clinton’s defenders are already slamming the book. Media Matters For America, the liberal watchdog group founded by Clinton ally David Brock, published a report on Monday, Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer’s Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing, detailing “ten incidents of significant errors, retractions, or questionable sourcing by Schweizer.”

“Schweizer is a partisan right-wing activist whose writings have been marked with falsehoods and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that ‘do not check out,’ sources that ‘do not exist,’ and a basic failure to practice ‘Journalism 101,'” Brock said in a statement. “Buyers should beware and consider the source.”

Brian Fallon, the press secretary for the Clinton campaign, similarly criticized the book.

“We always expected that while Hillary Clinton focused on helping everyday Americans get ahead, the Republicans would focus on attacks rather than ideas,” he told the On Media blog. “It appears that this book is being used to aid this coordinated attack strategy, twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories. It will not be the first work of partisan-fueled fiction about the Clintons’ record, and we know it will not be the last.”

In the fact-free world of FAUX News, facts do not matter. And too often the former “gatekeepers” of the mainstream media have followed suit, abandoning all previous standards and principles of journalism. Once again, The New York Times and The Washington Post are sacrificing their credibility as a legitimate news source.

2 responses to “The Hunting of The President: The Sequel

  1. Dark money and negative advertising, which is what is being set up here with these deals for this hit book, still have a significant effect on voting patterns. Negative advertising depresses turnout among Democratic voters more heavily than it does among Republican. The depression of voting is greatest at the lowest incomes and least at the highest incomes, the effect is linear from lowest income to highest. Since support for Democratic candidates is also linear by income negative advertising has a profound effect on elections which is why the Koch brothers have invested so heavily in it. This hit piece is an attack on the Democratic base voters and the fact that there is this much scandal mongering this early indicates that the Republicans know they can’t beat Hillary on the issues or on the merits.

  2. captain*arizona

    61% of white people already vote republican and the other 39% won’t vote republican regardless. In arizona 65% of white people vote republican and other 35% this breaks down 20% women and 15% men won’t vote for a republican even if they have to hold their nose and vote for hillary. This along with 93% black 73% hispanic 75% native american and asian vote is about 53% of total vote so fox is preaching to the choir. The democratic white vote here in arizona and in the country is stable ;but the minority vote is increasing and recently self deported mutt romney. Dark money concerns white democrat activists who’s numbers are staying the same. Racism and immigration concerns the minorities and their numbers increase 100,000 a month turning voting age and 3,000 a month in arizona. They hate republican racists and don’t care how many commercials the koch brother run! Only fred duval types trying to get republicans to vote for them on their ego trips worry about dark money as they have no message to the minorities except I am rich and old white just like the republicans you hate!