Stephanopoulos Has Got to Go

ABC News isn't an understaffed, under-capitalized small town newspaper, "ABC News can hire whomever it wants," Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO:

But Washington, too, is a small town, with a substantial overlap between journalism and politics. And hiring George Stephanopoulos wasn’t a terrible idea: He’s smart, he’s articulate, he knows everybody. He was a Clinton functionary with deep ties and longstanding loyalty to all things Clinton. Is that a problem? Sure, of course, but it’s a problem that can be addressed in no small part with simple disclosure.

Which is to say, the one thing that ABC News and Stephanopoulos needed to do is the one thing that they failed to do.

That $50,000 donation that has since grown to $75,000 may be chump change for Stephanopoulos — it certainly is for the Clintons — but if it were 20 bucks, you’d still want to disclose it if you were, to consider a random, implausible, and crazy hypothetical, overseeing highly critical coverage of a book alleging wrongdoing by the Clintons through the instrument of their family foundation.

Stephanopoulos has offered a half-hearted apology: “I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict.” But “extra mile” assumes a previous mile, and he did not really hike an inch to disclose this conflict — not an “appearance of a conflict,” but an actual conflict. The Clintons’ relationship with the eponymous nonprofit organization is a legitimate public issue, and Stephanopoulos has significant relationships with both family and foundation.

It is impossible to see how Stephanopoulos could do his job with any integrity in an environment in which the Clintons and their foundation will be central to the political news for the foreseeable future. Certainly not after concealing his relationship with the foundation. ABC News owes it to itself to live up to at least the standards of a small-town weekly newspaper. It owes them a lot more than that, in fact, but it cannot deliver the goods with Stephanopoulos at the desk.

But that assumes that ABC News is actually still in the news business. Arguably, in the 1960s and '70s, when they owned a third of the real estate on national commercial television, and there was no Internet to turn for breaking news, they still were, but does anyone believe that ABC News is anything but activists for the Democrat party today? Nobody but the lowest of low information voters buys their pose as  objective dispassionate dispensers of information in 2015, and George Stephanopoulos, former and current Clinton fixer is the logical endgame of DNC-MSM revolving door journalism. Or as Mark Steyn told Hugh Hewitt this past Thursday:

You're up front about who you support, and who you advise your listeners to donate to. George Stephanopoulos purports to be something closer to the media equivalent of a Supreme Court justice, that he is dispassionate and simply distributes media justice fairly. And that's the difference... One of the signs of decay in free societies and civilized societies is that you have the outward signs of apparent normalcy, but in fact, their meaning has been utterly hollowed out. So when you talk about the Schweizer interview, if you were just a casual... low information voter, as someone says, and you switch on ABC and you happen to see this interviewer interviewing a fellow who's written a book about the Clintons, you assume it's an honest interview. And this is not an honest interview any more than that was an honest question four years ago in New Hampshire. And that's the issue. You've got the forms of normalcy, but underneath, all has been perverted.

The avuncular star reporter or TV newsreader who spends his entire career claiming he's utterly objective, and then the day he retires from his beat or puts down his microphone and begins writing op-eds and giving speeches that sound like they're straight out of Pravda is one of the oldest cliches of American journalism -- see also Walter Cronkite, Dan RatherHelen Thomas, Katie Couric, and countless others. At a still boyish-looking 54, Stephanopoulos simply jumped the gun on that phase of his career; but unlike most newsmen, at least given his background, the rest of us all knew it was a charade anyhow.