ABC Airs Full Report Bashing Bush on Speaking Fee; Skipped Investigating Clinton Fees

The latest media double-standard was on display Wednesday night as ABC’s World News Tonight ran a full report dubbed “an ABC News investigation” into news that former President George W. Bush charged a speaking fee to appear before a veterans charity while having neglecting to have done a similar report digging into the millions made in speaking fees by Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross ruled that while “lots of people have donated their time and money” to the veterans charity Helping a Hero, he declared that former President George W. Bush was not one of those people because he “charged the charity $100,000 as speaking fee to appear at its annual fundraising gala in 2012, plus private jet travel that cost the charity $20,000.”

Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross ruled that while “lots of people have donated their time and money” to the veterans charity Helping a Hero, he declared that former President George W. Bush was not one of those people because he “charged the charity $100,000 as speaking fee to appear at its annual fundraising gala in 2012, plus private jet travel that cost the charity $20,000.”

Explaining that “some veterans are outraged,” Ross turned to “former charity board member” and former Marine Sgt. Eddie Wright, who attacked Bush for wanting to be paid after “[y]ou sent me to war.”

As my colleague Matthew Balan explained when Wright appeared hours earlier on CNN Newsroom, there’s more to this part of the story. In November 2014, WFAA-TV in Dallas reported that Wright was part of a group of veterans that accused the charity of “lavish expenditures, a lack of accountability, and broken promises.” A CNN.com article from Thursday wrote that both a criminal compliant and defamation suit involving the two sides “were settled out of court.”

In addition, Ross neglected to both specifically highlight events and initiatives Bush has held for veterans and follow the lead of CNN’s Brooke Baldwin in the CNN Newsroom segment by mentioning that Bush had slashed his standard speaking fee rate by over 50 percent for the Helping a Hero event.

Ross explained that “Bush’s spokesman says helping veterans is one of his highest priorities and he has hosted other events on their behalf for free” but he continued the hammering by going after former First Lady Laura Bush for having “charged the Helping a Hero charity to appear, $50,000, on a night she accepted the group's patriot award.” 

Back live, anchor David Muir attempted to bring up how former President Bill Clinton has “made a lot of money himself at speaking events,” but Ross largely declined to open that can of worms:  

Well, that's very true, David, but a spokesman for former President Clinton says he has never received a fee to appear at a veterans charity and late tonight, a spokesman said Mr. Bush has given millions of dollars to charity since leaving office. 

According to brief Nexis search, ABC has referenced the millions in speaking fees made by the Clintons on five occasions in the past year between Good Morning America and World News Tonight, but none were solely dedicated to millions Bill and Hillary Clinton made in speaking fees (with reports putting the money made from that and books in 2014 at $25 million).

On Thursday morning, NBC’s Today offered a news brief on the matter while ABCNews.com posted an article about its investigation a day earlier.

The relevant portions of the transcript from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on July 9 can be found below.

ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
July 9, 2015
6:40 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: ABC News Investigation]

DAVID MUIR: We turn tonight to an ABC News investigation we broke yesterday here about a former President and the $100,000 speaker fee he charged a charity for wounded veterans. ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross with many asking tonight: Why would you charge a veterans charity?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ABC News Investigation; George W. Bush’s Speaking Fees for Veterans]

(....)

ROSS: Every dollar counts for this veterans charity, and lots of people have donated their time and money, but not former President George W. Bush, who sent many of these veterans to war in the first place. ABC News discovered that President Bush actually charged the charity $100,000 as speaking fee to appear at its annual fundraising gala in 2012, plus private jet travel that cost the charity $20,000. His spokesperson confirms it, and tonight, some veterans are outraged. 

EDDIE WRIGHT: You sent me to war. I was doing what you told me to do, gladly. 

ROSS: Former charity board member Eddie Wright, a marine who lost both hands in Iraq, told ABC News he was appalled.

WRIGHT: And for him to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don't think that's right. 

ROSS: The charity's lawyer says Bush's appearance helped it raise an extra million dollars. 

(....)

ROSS: President Bush's spokesman says helping veterans is one of his highest priorities, and he has hosted other events on their behalf for free, but former First Lady Laura Bush also charged the Helping a Hero charity to appear, $50,000, on a night she accepted the group's patriot award. 

MUIR: And Brian Ross with you now. Former President George W. Bush is actually speaking tonight with former President Bill Clinton and he's made a lot of money himself at speaking events. 

ROSS: Well, that's very true, David, but a spokesman for former President Clinton says he has never received a fee to appear at a veterans charity and late tonight, a spokesman said Mr. Bush has given millions of dollars to charity since leaving office. 

MUIR: And this charity says President Bush helped bring money in. 

ROSS: That’s what their position is.

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Double Standards Military Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight Video George Bush George W. Bush President George W. Bush Veterans David Muir Brian Ross
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