Finally. After over 20 years I get to put a wordplay between Stephanopoulos and Snufflelupagus into a cartoon.
Journalists donating money to political campaigns is a much debated issue in my business. Many news organizations have rules that prohibit any donations by their journalists to political campaigns. Some outlets don’t prohibit the practice but they require their journalists to disclose all contributions. Then there’s Fox News which doesn’t really have any rules against it.
ABC’s anchor George Stephanopoulos got some heat this week when it was revealed he donated $75,000 to The Clinton Foundation. Stephanopoulos had interviewed Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer and really nailed him on the fact that he didn’t have any evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton for some contributions to The Clinton Foundation.
So what did George do wrong? Donating the money was not wrong. The Clinton Foundation is not a political organization. What he did wrong was not disclosing the contribution. George has now said he will not moderate any debates this election cycle or have anything to do with any coverage of Hillary Clinton.
None of that really bothers me. What bothers me are the conservatives screaming bloody murder over this while displaying their hypocrisy over the matter. Of course during all their hysterics everyone has forgotten about the sloppily written book, Clinton Cash, and the fact that it has already been revised eight times for inaccuracies.
Conservatives don’t understand journalism, ethics, humor, satire, and as this episode illustrates, they don’t understand hypocrisy and double standards. None of them has expressed any outrage over Fox News, the organization itself, and their anchors contributing to Republican political campaigns. They could at least raise an eyebrow or wag a finger.
For example, during the 2009-2010 election cycle, more than 30 Fox news people endorsed, raised money or campaigned for Republican campaigns and organizations over 600 times. Sean Hannity, for example, has raised money, endorsed and campaigned for Republican candidates. After he donated $5,000 to a PAC for Michele Bachmann he interviewed her. And no, he didn’t disclose that information during or before the interview. Of course no one is going to mistake Sean Hannity for being fair and balanced.
Other contributors for Fox News, like Dick Morris, Dick Schoen and Frank Luntz have actually been paid for work by Republican organizations.
Fox News’ parent, News Corp, donated $1.25 million to the Republican Governor’s Association. They didn’t stop covering Republican governors. They also contributed another $1 million to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, which is a Republican linked organization. News Corp isn’t dumb though. They know what’s best for their business and that’s probably why they donated more to Obama’s reelection campaign than to Mitt Romney’s campaign. How could Fox keep angering viewers and make money off them if they don’t have anything to get angry about?
Stephanopoulos didn’t give money to a political campaign. He gave to a charity. That’s something he should have disclosed before the Schweizer interview. I don’t expect that sort of disclosure coming from the conservative “mainstream” media.
As a matter of fairness and disclosure, I gave money once to a political campaign. In 1994 I donated $20.00 to the congressional campaign of Mississippi’s Roger Wicker. Today he’s a U.S. senator. He really got a lot of miles out of that 20 bucks. Today I do not donate money because I try to maintain some ethics and also because I really don’t have any money. In addition to not giving to politicians, I try not to give them any time. I don’t like meeting politicians. After meeting EVERY state politician in Mississippi from 1990 to 1997, I have spent the rest of my career avoiding them. I wasn’t always successful and would occasionally get dragged to an editorial meeting with a candidate, governor or congressman, though I usually ditched those meetings which would really annoy my editor at the time (I also don’t like meetings in general…or phone calls. I really hate talking on the phone and when I worked in Hawaii politicians called me all the time). I’d also run into a politician every now and then at a convention or party. It always helped a politician’s chances of meeting me if free food was involved. I met Trent Lott at a lot of catfish fries in the 90’s.
I’ve heard other cartoonists name drop politicians like they’re fishing buddies. When you talk to a politician, they’re usually very charming and try to make you believe you’re friends and what you say is important to them. At times, I do like them which makes me want to avoid them because I don’t want to like them. Mark Warner acted like he remembered me from something he couldn’t remember when we had never met before, Tim Kaine was very down to earth and likable and what my readers might find shocking, Eric Cantor was a blast to talk to. Thankfully, John McCain was kind of a jerk. I also nearly had my arm ripped off by Al Gore once. Everyone who works at a newspaper will meet politicians. The real art was not to meet them but somehow try to gain access to the free food.
But we’re not important to these people. Somehow journalists are supposed to convince each other that we’re players and very important in the political process. I think I’m more of a heckler.
About the cartoon: Yes, I had to look up how to spell “Stephanopoulos” and “Snuffleupagus.” I looked at the spellings more than once while I lettered.