WASHINGTON, April 26, 2015 — One little sentence in a recent New York Times story has many of its readers and fellow left-of-center publications deeply concerned. “The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the storylines found in the book,” said the Times.
The author is Peter Schweizer. The book is Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
Heather Digby Parton at Salon.com condemned the Times for legitimizing the contents of a book by “a right-wing propagandist,” saying the investigation into Schweizer’s charges is similar to “the way the press took every little tidbit of Whitewater gossip and ran with it back in the 1990s.”
Editor Margaret Sullivan, who “writes about the Times and its journalism,” noted in her blog that an email from a New Jersey reader said, “I’m very unsettled that the Times is hyping a book by an extreme partisan.”
Another reader noted suspiciously that “a deal implies that the Times got something and the Times gave something. Surely it should be transparent about the quid and the quo. Is money involved? Promises of play? What?”
Still another asked, “Why does the Times need to make any arrangement with the author to ‘pursue story lines’?”
The best answer, ironically, came from a senior communications flack for the Clinton campaign, Karen Finney.
“Basically, they’ve taken publicly available information and kind of rehashed it into this sort of partisan fantasy,” Finney told MSNBC.
If the New York Times, the Washington Post and Fox News have “exclusive” deals with author Peter Schweizer, it’s because they failed to fulfill their role as government watchdogs.
The observation by Hillary’s communication flack is a scathing, if left-handed, condemnation of lazy, incompetent or ideologically compromised “investigative” journalists. As Finney observed, the information in Schweizer’s Clinton book is not gleaned from documents passed to the author at a secret drop site under cover of darkness, or from the testimony of witnesses unable to prove the charges leveled.
The book’s chronicle of Clinton corruption is damning and dangerous because they are backed by public records. Records, it must be said, that are easily available to journalists that take seriously the “public’s right to know.”
Schweizer’s “exclusive” arrangement with the heavy hitters of the mainstream media is an admission they dropped the ball. That they gave the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential candidate for 2016 a pass in the court of public opinion, like New York juries once gave the “Teflon Don” John Gotti in courts of law.
In the same way Hillary’s defenders attack Schweizer, Bruce Cutler, Gotti’s attorney, famously accused federal prosecutors of using “dirt” against his client. That the government failed to offer “a scintilla of evidence” in support of their racketeering charges. And that the Don’s accusers were a “new breed of prosecutor” for whom “the end justified the means.”
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In response, U.S. Attorney John Gleeson told the jury, “These defendants have decided that everyone involved in this case but them is guilty of a crime.”
The jury stiffened its collective spine and sent John Gotti to die in prison.
The credibility of Peter Schweizer won’t be found in his political associations anymore than it was for U.S. Attorney John Gleeson, who was eventually appointed a judge to the U.S. District Court by Bill Clinton.
It will be found in the reams of public documents collected and the money trails leading to the corrupt, Teflon Clintons.
And if the New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News do their jobs, we the jury will have enough evidence to render our verdict by November 2016.