Why Stephanopoulos' Clinton Foundation Donations Stand Out

Although the Clinton Foundation's donors include media companies and other journalists, only ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos is under fire.
Posted at 9:22 AM, May 16, 2015

If you’re a journalist, donating to a political cause or campaign is generally a big no-no. In many newsrooms, it’s a fireable offense.

“Thirty years ago, in 1985, after 15 great years, I was fired by ABC News. The official reason was a $200 donation I gave to the non-partisan mayor's race in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” Geraldo Rivera said on Fox News.

At first glance, George Stephanopoulos’ $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation would seem to fall under that category. 

Except that the Clinton Foundation is a charity —  a nonprofit that, among it’s many goals, works to improve global health, reduce childhood obesity and increase opportunities for women and girls.

Clinton Foundation donors come from across the political spectrum. There’s Donald Trump, a Republican, as well as a handful news organizations and media companies, including NBC Universal and Thomson Reuters. Even the philanthropy of News Corporation, Fox News’ parent company, has donated.

Along with Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of the right-leaning website Newsmax, who says he stands by his contribution. “I have never seen in all my dealings with the foundation any whiff of politics.”

But back to Stephanopoulos. Put aside for a moment that he failed to disclose his donations, even after interviewing the author behind "Clinton Cash" — an investigation of the foundation's donors. 

You still would think Stephanopoulos would have realized the perception problem he’d create in donating to a charity run by the Democratic 2016 frontrunner, especially given his history.

He was, after all, once a top advisor to Bill Clinton.

“Another good night for Bill Clinton. Three debates, three wins," Stephanopoulos said in the "War Room."

But unlike say, Keith Olbermann or Joe Scarborough — both previously suspended by MSNBC for making political donations — Stephanopoulos is staying put.

The reason, according to a statement ABC gave to Politico's Dylan Byers, ”Stephanopoulos made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply.”

A cause that, again, wasn’t political in nature — at least not directly. An argument could be made donations to the Clinton Foundation have been used to buy influence with the Clintons themselves.

In fact, Stephanopoulos has made that argument.

“Everybody also knows when those donors give that money to President Clinton or someone, they get a picture with him. There’s a hope that that’s going to lead to something and that’s what you have to be careful of,” Stephanopoulos said on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

Stephanopoulos has since apologized for not telling viewers about his donations, and says he will not be moderating the network’s Republican 2016 primary debate.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.