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Really bad journalism... [Oct. 24th, 2016|07:37 am]
So, today I saw this:

First paragraph - which, by any journalistic standards, should be your money-shot:

The chief complaint that critics make about the Clinton Foundation is that the former and perhaps future presidents engaged in a “pay-to-play” scheme, whereby donors—many of them foreign governments—would contribute money to the charity in exchange for access to Bill or Hillary Clinton, or worse, beneficial treatment from the State Department.

Okay: first, let's take a look at the wording. "the chief complaint that critics make..." is that people who donate a lot of money to The CLINTON Foundation expect to be able to talk to the CLINTONS!

Wow. That's like, if I donate a million bucks to Planned Parenthood, I might be able to talk to the CEO or one of the board members in return.

And if one of the board members has a politically important position, I might get to present my case to them about something, and when they try to brush me off with a tested talking point, demand that they at least repeat my argument back to me, paraphrased, and promise to think about it.

And that would be a sign of... absolutely nothing. There used to be a meme that, "yes, I donate to my congressional representative, and my Senators. They get the maximum donation I can give. Do they vote how I ask them? No way. But when I call their office, I can by golly talk to them, and express my concerns."

That was an older meme, back when lobbyists' main jobs were making donations and helping rally support, of course. Today, a lobbyist will help writing marketing material to make one's personal, and partisan, "brand" look better by being associated with X_Political_Position.

Okay: so the main premise is, the Clintons raised a lot of money for a lot of damn good causes, and by golly, if you paid a lot of money to help one of those causes, they might listen to you!

And the answer to this is "So what? That's no different from any other charitable organization with big, famous celebrities, or powerful political actors, involved."

They bury the lede, which shows up here:
All of that may be true, and nothing in the exchange appears to be illegal. Hillary Clinton wasn’t secretary of state at the time, and there is no evidence in the emails that Morocco gained any official concessions in terms of U.S. policy other than potentially the good will of the next president. But the image of the Clintons seeking out a foreign head of state for cash is not a good look. And as Abedin pointed out, Hillary Clinton “knows it.”

That is why the Moroccan episode is such a quintessentially Clinton controversy. It’s not as if they are tone-deaf politicians. Like so many other “scandals”—from the alleged renting out of the Lincoln bedroom in 1990s, to the pardon of Marc Rich, to Hillary’s use of a private email server—the Clintons seem to know that what they are doing will look bad and raise questions of ethics and corruption, and yet convinced of their own righteousness, they do it anyway.

So: nothing appears illegal. But it's not a "good" look. And they must know that if they do anything, that can be made to look bad, they'll be attacked by the right wing, and by the press, who, loving them some anti-Clinton clickbait, will push the idea so long as it seems like good clickbait.

And, when confronted by this, knowing that their actions will receive huge amounts of scrutiny, no matter what they do, they choose to go out there and act anyway, because they think they're right.

Trying to do what's right, knowing that some really unkind people will say some really unkind things, is turned into a bad character trait.

But it's not like the press is unbalanced. For example, they did report when Donald Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, so, see? One side gets raked over the coals when they do something that some folks think "doesn't look good" and the other side gets raked over the coals when confessing to felonies.

Maybe I'm being a tad too cynical, a tad too unfair... but I'm okay with that. It's Monday.