ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos apologised on Thursday for not disclosing a potential conflict of interest while covering the presidential race.
In recent years, Stephanopoulos gave $US50,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, according to Politico. He did not disclose that fact while grilling the author of a book accusing the foundation of corruption.
Stephanopoulos released a statement to Politico apologizing for not taking the “extra step” of telling viewers about his support for the foundation. He stressed he had given the money simply because he cared deeply about its work.
“I made charitable donations to the Foundation in support of the work they’re doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation, causes I care about deeply,” he said in a statement. “I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record. However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation. I apologise.”
Last month, Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer, the author of “Clinton Cash,” which links money given to the Clinton Foundation to alleged government favours doled out by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During their exchange, Stephanopoulos repeatedly pointed out that there was no “direct evidence” of corruption in Schweizer’s work, and the interview was specifically touted by Clinton’s presidential campaign as proof that his book was nothing more than a partisan smear.
In addition to his foundation contributions, Stephanopoulos once worked in the administration of Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who is also a central figure in Schweizer’s book.
Though Stephanopoulos played down his contributions to the Clinton Foundation as merely supporting a charitable cause he cares about, other journalists expressed shock at the revelation:
For its part, ABC News issues a statement to Politico standing by Stephanopoulos.
“As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply and believed his contributions were a matter of public record,” the statement said. “He should have taken the extra step to notify us and our viewers during the recent news reports about the Foundation. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologised for that omission. We stand behind him.”
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