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“Unrelenting Hostility Of The Washington Media Clique”: Playing By The Old ‘Clinton Rules’ — All Innuendo, Few Facts

As a professional matter, I’ve been halfway dreading Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. The 2016 Democratic nomination appears to be hers for the asking. Democrats enjoy a strong Electoral College advantage. And yet it’s hard to imagine how she can overcome the unrelenting hostility of the Washington media clique.

Try to imagine the New York Times and Washington Post teaming up with Fox News impresario Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. on an “exposé” of any other politician in Washington. Joe Conason wasn’t exaggerating much when he called it the “Hitler-Stalin Pact” of contemporary journalism.

The two newspapers agreed to “exclusive” arrangements with one Peter Schweizer, a right-wing operative and author of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The book’s publisher is HarperCollins, a News Corp subsidiary like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, etc.

Basically, we’re in Ann Coulter country here. Schweizer’s not a journalist, but a controversialist for right-wing “think tanks.” A former consultant to Sarah Palin and ghostwriter for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Glenn Beck, he makes his living vilifying Democrats. Media Matters has posted a long list of withdrawn or retracted stories under his byline.

Reporters for the British Sunday Times evaluated an earlier Schweizer book and found that “[f]acts that are checkable do not check out. Individuals credited for supplying information do not exist or cannot be tracked down. Requests to the author for help and clarification result in further confusion and contradiction.”

The New York Times, in contrast, praised the fellow’s “meticulous” reporting. All this in service of a front-page “blockbuster” by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire insinuating that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sold out the national interest, helping a Russian company to buy uranium mines in Wyoming from a Canadian corporation in exchange for a few million dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation, the family’s charitable enterprise.

That and a $500,000 speaking fee awarded by a Moscow bank to the Big Cheese, her husband, the former president — a guy who’s been averaging $7.5 million a year making speeches.

“Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown” the Times concedes early on.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. The insinuation couldn’t be any clearer than if they’d hinted that Vladimir Putin was Hillary’s lover.

The diligent reader must persevere almost to the bottom of the murkily narrated 4,400-word story to learn that the uranium transaction had to be signed off on by all nine federal agencies comprising the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, that none apparently dissented, and that the State Department’s man on the committee stated, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

Oh, and the Wyoming mines aren’t actually in operation, probably because the worldwide price of uranium has fallen following Japan’s Fukishima disaster. The Russians would probably sell them back, cheap.

No matter, it’s really all about what the Times calls “the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation.”

Besides Hillary and Putin, the story’s other suspicious character is Canadian mining executive and philanthropist Frank Giustra. Besides pledging half his income to good works such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative — bringing cheap HIV/AIDS drugs to 9.9 million people in Third World countries — Giustra’s other big sin was supposedly relying on Bill Clinton’s help to negotiate a multinational buyout of uranium mines in Kazakhstan.

Giustra has called the Times account arrant nonsense. He even provided a flight manifest to a Forbes reporter to prove that contrary to the newspaper, he didn’t take Bill Clinton with him to Kazakhstan at all. Moreover, as an extremely careful reader can determine, Giustra sold all of his Uranium One holdings in 2007 — two years before Hillary became Secretary of State — and so had nothing to gain from company’s 2010 transaction with the Russians.

Or from his charitable donations.

Giustra’s second suspect act was setting up something called the Canadian Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. That too seems to have confused the scandal-hunting reporters and their supporters on the Washington Post editorial page. See, even if there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo, the Post thundered, the Clinton Foundation had promised transparency while Hillary was in office.

“However, the Times said the contributions of some connected to the Uranium One deal were not disclosed. The newspaper unearthed them in Canadian tax records. This lapse is exactly the sleight of hand that creates suspicion… What were the Clintons hiding?”

Basically, as it turns out, the fact that Canada is a sovereign country whose laws prohibit such disclosures.

Look, there’s a reason articles like the Times’ big exposé are stultifyingly dull and require the skills of a contract lawyer to parse. Murky sentences and jumbled chronologies signify that the “Clinton rules” are back: all innuendo and guilt by association. All ominous rhetorical questions, but rarely straightforward answers.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, April 29, 2015

May 2, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Journalism, Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Back Here On Planet Earth”: The Clinton’s Still Aren’t Corrupt

So now I’m supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton turned the Department of State into a giant shakedown operation? According to Beltway conventional wisdom, it seems that I am compelled to believe exactly that. Because you know those Clintons.

And so we have a lot of credulous hand-waving about this new book. Conservatives sharpen their knives, liberals sweat bullets that it’s all over. But very few people stop to think: Clinton has been in our faces for 20-plus years. Where is any evidence of real corruption? I don’t mean stuff you may not have liked or that kinda looked funny. I mean actual, Rhode-Island-style, steal-a-hot-stove corruption.

Don’t say Whitewater. She endured millions of dollars’ worth of investigations by a prosecutor (Ken Starr) who quite obviously wanted to nail her to the wall, and he came up with nothing. I still remember, by the way, the hopped-up political atmosphere after Bill Safire wrote a column calling her a “congenital liar” and predicted that she was going to be indicted any day now. It was not unlike the mood this week, as we anticipate The New York Times and The Washington Post’s reducing themselves into effectively collaborating with Fox News to trumpet Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash. But Safire was wrong, as he in fact so often was about so many things, and Starr never got her.

Cattle futures, billing records—it’s all the same. Thousands of people, people who hate her and want to see her thrown in jail, have been over and over and over these things. I know the fact that she walks freely among us suggests to many people that she and Bill are so brilliantly devious that they always knew exactly how to get away with it. But just maybe Occam’s Razor applies here, and she’s never done anything illegal.

And now she is supposed to have muscled through a trade deal with Colombia to thank a donor to her husband’s foundation. Right. Look at the chronology.

The man whose business interests the Colombia deal apparently advanced was named Frank Giustra, a Bill friend who has, as we shall see, come up before in the media in this connection. Giustra gave the Clinton Foundation $131 million—$31 million in 2006, [NOTE: this initially said 2005 but has been corrected] and another $100 million pledged that same year that he made good on over the next three years, up through 2008.

Now, 2008, you will recall, was when Hillary Clinton was running for president. It would stand to reason, would it not, that if Clinton was so intent on advancing Giustra’s Colombian business interests, she would have been for the trade deal at the exact moment Giustra finished paying her husband $131 million? But she was against it as a candidate, and implacably so! “I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement,” she said on the stump in Pennsylvania that April.

That’s not exactly the position of someone shilling for a donor, but I suppose if you’re a committed enough Clintonologist, you can turn it all into a conspiracy—she was just opposing it then to throw the rest of us off the scent, but she’d support it later when it mattered. In fact, she was so intent on hiding her “real” position that she even parted ways with campaign manager Mark Penn because he was consulting for the Colombian government in behalf of the deal.

So then she became Secretary of State. And, indeed, she did start supporting it—but after that became the administration’s position. Obama had also opposed the deal, which the Bush administration had begun negotiating with Colombia back in 2006, as a candidate. But the Obama administration used the Colombia deal as a test case for whether it could get a trade partner to agree to tougher labor protections (there was, and still is, violence against trade unionists in Colombia, although the number of killings has gone down since the pact) as part of gaining access to U.S. markets. The labor provisions got in there. People debate today how much good they’ve done, but they’re in there, and so Obama and Clinton changed their position and backed the deal.

Now, for Clinton to have known in 2008 that all this would play out to Frank Giustra’s benefit, she would have had to have known that Obama was going to beat John McCain and, rather more improbably than that, that Obama was going to appoint her to be his Secretary of State. But those wily Clintons know things like that, see.

I will grant you, she and Obama did not change their positions for reasons that Frank Capra would make a movie about. They changed them, I would imagine, because business and agricultural interests wanted the deal and had more power than the labor and human rights interests that opposed it. You can decry that, too, but it’s just politics.

Think Progress got a copy of Schweizer’s book, and on their description it actually sounds like it’s going to disappoint the heavy breathers. Aviva Shen writes: “Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement.” “Possibly” law enforcement. Nice touch.

While I’m at it with the irony quotes, I might as well drape some around that adjective “investigative” too. The Times, it seems, has decided to debase itself by following the breadcrumbs dropped by this former adviser to Sarah Palin because Schweizer devotes a chapter to Giustra and Kazakhstan, which the Times reported on back in 2008, and the Times plans to follow up on that.

I remember reading that Times story at the time and going, “Wow, that does look bad.” But then I also remember reading this Forbes (yes, Forbes!) debunking of the Times story, which was headlined “Clinton Commits No Foul in Kazakhstan Uranium Deal.” By the time I finished reading that piece (and please, click through and read it so that you are forearmed for the coming Times hit job), I was marveling to myself: Golly, that Times piece looked so awful at the time. But it turns out they just left out some facts, obscured some others, and without being technically inaccurate, managed to convey or imply that something skuzzy happened where it in fact hadn’t. How can a great newspaper do such a thing?

We’re about to find out again.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 22, 2015

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Hillary Clinton, Media | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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