Our laziest pseudo-journalist: Is something wrong with the budgeting or with the books at the Clinton foundation?
A person might get that impression from the giant mound of nothing which appeared in last week's New York Times. At one point, Confessore and Chozick presented this worrying copy:
CONFESSORE AND CHOZICK (8/14/13): Mr. Band repeatedly urged Mr. Clinton to fire Mr. Magaziner, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Clinton refused, confiding in aides that despite Mr. Magaziner's managerial weaknesses, he was a visionary with good intentions. The former president, according to one person who knows them both, ''thinks Ira is brilliant—and brilliant people get away with a lot in Clinton world.''For yesterday's report on this topic, click here.
Indeed, by then, Mr. Magaziner had persuaded Mr. Clinton and the foundation to spin the health initiative off into a separate organization, with Mr. Magaziner as its chief executive and the Clinton Foundation appointing a majority of its board members. The financial problems continued. In 2010 and 2011, the first two years when the health initiative operated as a stand-alone organization, it ran annual shortfalls of more than $4 million. A new chief financial officer, hired in 2010, left eight months later.
We’ll assume that the highlighted passage means that the initiative ran shortfalls of $4 million in each of those (two) years, although the Times scribes aren’t clear. But alas! In the next paragraph, we are told that receipts were “more than $160 million” in 2011.
On that scale, is a $4 million (or $2 million) shortfall really a problem? Were two shortfalls of that size even worth reporting?
Go ahead—read the whole report! See if you find a single place where an independent analyst says there is or was something wrong with the finances of this foundation.
No such outside opinion is offered, perhaps for an obvious reason. But at considerable length, Confessore and Chozick created the sense that something must be troubling inside that foundation’s books.
In reply, Bill Clinton explained that the tax forms involved here can be misleading, for a simple reason which he explained. When he did this, the Times banished his explanation to a blog post by Chozick.
Did Clinton’s explanation have merit? Chozick didn’t bother to say! And by the way—for high achievement in nothing-burger, don’t miss the highlighted passage at the end of this chunk:
CONFESSORE AND CHOZICK: Mr. Clinton ended his advisory role with Teneo in March 2012, after an article appeared in The New York Post suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was angry over the MF Global controversy. A spokesman for Mr. Clinton denied the report. But in a statement released afterward, Mr. Clinton announced that he would no longer be paid by Teneo.Some people thought a press release gave somebody else too much credit! In such ways, hamburger helper kept getting stirred into this very long piece.
He also praised Mr. Band effusively, crediting him with keeping the foundation afloat and expressing hopes that Mr. Band would continue to advise the Global Initiative.
''I couldn't have accomplished half of what I have in my post-presidency without Doug Band,'' Mr. Clinton said in the statement.
Even that news release was a source of controversy within the foundation, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Band helped edit the statement, which other people around the Clintons felt gave him too much credit for the foundation's accomplishments.
The Times report was a nothing-burger, one of the largest ever. But four days later, Maureen Dowd was very, very upset.
Needless to say, Dowd is always very upset when she hears of the Clintons. As she started, she complained about “their assumption that they’re entitled to everyone’s money,” without trying to let us know what that might actually mean.
Entitled to everyone’s money? How? Failing to explain, she stated her premise:
DOWD (8/18/13): If Americans are worried about money in politics, there is no larger concern than the Clintons, who are cosseted in a world where rich people endlessly scratch the backs of rich people.There is no doubt that the Clintons move in a world of rich people. Without any doubt, major conflicts exist in that world.
They have a Wile E. Coyote problem; something is always blowing up. Just when the Clintons are supposed to be floating above it all, on a dignified cloud of do-gooding leading into 2016, pop-pop-pop, little explosions go off everywhere, reminding us of the troubling connections and values they drag around.
There are reasons to fear the values and outlooks which may emerge from that world. If you doubt that, just look at the work of Dowd and other top “journalists,” worthless people who don’t reveal the size of their own bloated incomes.
That said, is there really “no larger concern than the Clintons” for Americans who are “worried about money in politics?” That’s always possible, of course. But is it actually true?
Something is always blowing up with these people, Dowd says, as if to answer. If you want to emit a mordant laugh, check out her first example:
DOWD (continuing directly): There’s the continuing grotesque spectacle of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. And there’s the sketchy involvement of the Clintons’ most prolific fund-raiser, Terry McAuliffe, and Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham in a venture, GreenTech Automotive; it’s under federal investigation and causing fireworks in Virginia, where McAuliffe is running for governor.Sad! You can see that something’s wrong with the Clintons because of what Weiner did! And we’re sorry, but GreenTech isn’t “causing fireworks in Virginia,” and you’ll note that Dowd makes no attempt to examine the merits of sliming McAuliffe.
Has Terry McAuliffe done something wrong? It’s always possible, of course. But Dowd forgets to say.
Dowd never tries to justify the indictments she brings to this piece. Here’s her attempt to indict the “scammy” business operation of one of the many “surrogate children” involved in the Clinton foundation:
DOWD: The most egregious nest of conflicts was a firm founded by Doug Band called Teneo, a scammy blend of corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking. Band, a surrogate son to Bill, put Huma, a surrogate daughter to Hillary, on the payroll. Even Big Daddy Bill was a paid adviser.Now you can tell the Clintons are bad because of what Corzine did!
As The Times reported, Teneo worked on retainer, charging monthly fees up to $250,000 and recruiting clients from among Clinton Foundation donors, while encouraging others to become foundation donors. The Clintons distanced themselves from Teneo when they got scorched with bad publicity after the collapse of its client MF Global, the international brokerage firm led by the former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine.
In that passage, we learn about a surrogate daughter and a surrogate son. Later, they are described as Chelsea Clinton’s “surrogate siblings.” Meanwhile, in what way is Teneo “scammy?”
Is Teneo scammy when it charges monthly fees? When it encourages clients to donate to the foundation? Again, Dowd doesn’t explain her indictment. Earlier, she has described “Clintonworld” as a place “where a cast of jarringly familiar characters pad their pockets every which way to Sunday.”
“Padding one’s pockets” does sound rather “scammy.” But has anyone actually done something wrong? Dowd doesn’t try to say.
Dowd rarely has anything to say on any topic, but she trends toward pure pathology when it comes to the Clintons. This was her closing cri de coeur:
DOWD: The Clintons want to do big worthy things, but they also want to squeeze money from rich people wherever they live on planet Earth, insatiably gobbling up cash for politics and charity and themselves from the same incestuous swirl.Aside from the insulting language, is something wrong with seeking donations from wealthy donors and using it for projects all around the world? How many charities don’t work that way? How do you “do big worthy things” if you don’t have significant money?
In this passage, we get to see the ultimate poverty of Dowd’s paralyzed soul:
DOWD: You never hear about problems with Jimmy Carter’s foundation; he just quietly goes around the world eradicating Guinea worm disease. But Magaziner continues to be a Gyro Gearloose, the inept inventor of Donald Duck’s Duckburg.One proposal didn’t get off the ground! Meanwhile, Dowd forgets to name the many proposals which did. Carter’s work on Guinea worm disease is named. Pathetically, it is matched with cartoon descriptions of one of Clinton’s aides.
“On one occasion, Mr. Magaziner dispatched a team of employees to fly around the world for months gathering ideas for a climate change proposal that never got off the ground,” Confessore and Chozick said.
There’s much to fear from the sea of big money in which the Clintons swim. But what are the Clintons actually doing in those dangerous waters?
Dowd is too lazy, too empty to say. But because the worthless New York Times will never rein their sickest soul in, she will surely keep this up for the next several years.
Readers will be misled and confused. More on this problem tomorrow.