Fox News Sunday Slams Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Donations

On Fox News Sunday, the entire political panel blasted ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for his failure to disclose $75,000 worth of donations to the Clinton Foundation despite covering the Clintons and promoting the work of the foundation over the years. 

Brit Hume criticized the ABC anchor’s actions and argued “if there's anybody in the world that you want to seem independent from it’s the Clintons. That's the mistake…I think by and large he's done a good job being even-handed in his work. But this was a mistake and I'm not sure he'll recover from it any time soon.” 

Later in the segment, liberal Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers initially defended Stephanopoulos’ decision not to disclose his donations before she hit him for his treatment of Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer during a recent interview: 

[I]t needs to be disclosed. And then the added step is the way he treated the Clinton Cash journalist who did this book. Had he not done that this probably wouldn't have been as bad but the fact that he was so really aggressive in that interview, I don't think he should have done the interview in the first place. He should have recused himself. 

Republican strategist Karl Rove was slightly more harsh in condemning Stephanopoulos and argued “[t]his was a huge mistake. It was a half-hearted apology. I want to go the extra mile. Well, I don't think he went an inch, let alone a mile to begin with.”  

Rove continued to scold Stephanopoulos for his assertion that he donated to the Clintons solely to help impoverished people around the world:

Secondly, he said, I did this because I wanted to help children fight AIDS and help the environment. Well look give money to Bono's organization if you want to fight AIDS, give money to Save the Children. Pick one of a dozen different environmental groups.

The segment concluded with liberal journalist Juan Williams questioning Stephanopoulos’ donations and maintained “I’m just very uncomfortable with all this movement. The Al Sharpton becomes a host…Stephanopoulos was the press secretary. How can you say he's separate from the Clintons? That's crazy.” 

See relevant transcript below. 

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

May 17, 2015

CHRIS WALLACE: There was another big political story this week, and I want to ask you about it, Brit, and that is the revelation that our colleague George Stephanopoulos of ABC News had over the years contributed $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation and that he didn't disclose that fact even when he was covering the current controversy about the foundation. On Friday he apologized. 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that. 

WALLACE: Brit, you were the former boss here, managing editor in the Washington bureau. What do you think of what he did? And how would you have reacted as a boss if somebody here in the bureau did that? 

BRIT HUME: Well, I also covered the Clinton white house when he was press secretary and it was pretty clear to me, when he came out of that job, went to work for ABC, look, the business we're in is not a priesthood, it's perfectly possible for someone to make the transition from politics to journalism. But if there's one thing he needed to do in doing that was to sever any real or apparent ties with the Clintons.

Contributing to their foundation is one thing. It now it also turns out he participated in panels and other events connected to the Clinton Global Initiative. It is a mistake to do that. You want to be seen as independent and if there's anybody in the world that you want to seem independent from it’s the Clintons. That's the mistake. The apology is fine. I give him credit for making it. I like George. I think by and large he's done a good job being even-handed in his work. But this was a mistake and I'm not sure he'll recover from it any time soon.

WALLACE: How do you feel about the failure to disclose to the viewers?

HUME: Well, that’s a similar mistake. You know, think of all the times when, say, Nina Easton, whose husband is a political consultant, has been on these panels here at Fox News -- 

WALLACE: Particularly when he was involved in the Romney campaign. 

HUME: Right and she would always say, full disclosure, my husband works for the Romney campaign. That gives viewers a chance to sift what she’s heard. That’s the way to handle it. He didn't do that. 

WALLACE: Kirsten, are you troubled by the Stephanopoulos story and is his decision to recuse himself from the Republican debate that ABC is going to have next year, is it enough? 

KRISTEN POWERS: Well, it’s not even clear he was going to be doing the debate in the first place so I'm not sure that he's recusing himself from anything. I think what's happening here is that, I know Republicans really think the Clinton Foundation is this nefarious political operation but the rest of us sort of see it as a humanitarian organization that’s doing good work.

And I think that that's what he was giving money to, not to a political campaign. And perhaps that's why he didn't think he should disclose it, though I don't entirely get that. The other thing the Clinton campaign is making a point of is lots of journalists did this. Many journalists gave money to it. To Brit's point -- 

WALLACE: They did? Lots of journalists gave money? 

POWERS: A lot of different high-profile people had given money to the foundation.  

WALLACE: I’d like that list. 

POWERS: Yeah, they have a list And also, a lot of them were involved in giving panels —

HUME: Any of them covering the Clintons in any way? Any one covering the Clintons? 

POWERS: Here’s my point. He's different anyway. Even if that's true, to your point, he had -- he was the press secretary in the Clinton administration. He’s going to have to hold himself to a different standard. And it needs to be disclosed. And then the added step is the way he treated the Clinton Cash journalist who did this book. Had he not done that this probably wouldn't have been as bad but the fact that he was so really aggressive in that interview, I don't think he should have done the interview in the first place. He should have recused himself. 

WALLACE: Karl, last word. 

KARL ROVE: Look, I like George, too. This was a huge mistake. It was a half-hearted apology. I want to go the extra mile. Well, I don't think he went an inch, let alone a mile to begin with. He did nothing to make his conflict known. Secondly, he said, I did this because I wanted to help children fight AIDS and help the environment. Well look give money to Bono's organization if you want to fight AIDS, give money to Save the Children. Pick one of a dozen different environmental groups.

WALLACE: I just want to say one quick thing cuz we’re really running out of time here. I've taken criticism this week because we have you on the show in 2014, and you were talking about Senate races and you were involved in Senate races -- 

KARL: And I made those -- I would talk about that. In fact, full disclosure, I've contributed to the Bush Presidential Library. There’s no foundation engaged in supporting his lifestyle. But I’ve given to the Bush Presidential Library. But I'm not a journalist. I'm a pundit. I’m a commentator. I’m somebody with an opinion. George—

 HUME: Pundits are journalists, too. 

You write a column, right? You’re a newspaper columnist? 

ROVE:  But I'm not trying to make the transition that George did. like before him Tim Russert. Tim Russert did a magnificent job of moving from a Democrat operative to a bipartisan, nonpartisan host of a Sunday morning talk program and George was doing the same. And this has tarnished what he has done for 16 years. 

JUAN WILLIAMS: I’m just very uncomfortable with all this movement. The Al Sharpton becomes a host. I just think, you know, journalism -- they shouldn't let -- those people aren't trained as broadcasters and yet they’re over there, Stephanopoulos was the press secretary. How can you say he's separate from the Clintons? That's crazy. 

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential FOX Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace Clinton Foundation George Stephanopoulos Brit Hume Juan Williams Kirsten Powers Karl Rove

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