Double Standards for Hillary and the Clinton Foundation
23 Aug 2016
Only a member of the American Press would have the gall to use the word “venality” to describe Hillary Clinton, who has fought to get proper education for disabled children, fought against discrimination, worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, for first responders, veterans, women and girls for forty plus years. Her opponent, Donald Trump, is “venal” with his every waking breath and spent a lifetime aggrandizing himself at other’s expense. Yet a Google search finds her called “venal” 4 times as much as he, likely because mainstream media continues to rip her to shreds while normalizing a demagogue. Their latest gripe is that the Clinton Foundation, which has received an “A” rating as a charity, has low administrative costs, saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and aided millions, must be shut down should she become President. In his article in New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait complains too, and writes:
“She has a reputation for venality — the merits of which we can set aside momentarily — that forces her to a higher ethical standard. Her inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation show that she is not meeting that standard, and has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.”
His words speak to the double standard aimed at Hillary Clinton and her candidacy. Chait teases “the merits” of her “reputation,” but shouldn’t Chait state up front that the Press gave and continues to give her a reputation for “venality” that she ill deserves? Chait’s article puts the responsibility of her “forced higher ethical standard” on Hillary, rather than on those who cynically insist she must meet a standard no one else – certainly no man – would or could.
The question isn’t whether Clinton is perfect (no one is), but why she should have to be. Her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, who demanded transparency from everyone else, to this day has declined to disclose his tax returns. Trump, now the Republican nominee, refuses to disclose his taxes and lies about himself, his intentions and his detractors every time he opens his mouth. Yet mainstream media spent a year building up both men while tearing Hillary down (see Harvard’s study on this; don’t take my word for it).
Chait and others like him refer to both Clintons as “venal” and that “the Clinton Foundation is a stand-in for the Clintons’ sloppy ethics in general.” In the same breath, he lauds Senator Sanders’ “ethics,” ignoring his glaring omissions. These are double standards showing Chait to be accepting of Sanders’ words without demanding that his actions match up. Hillary Clinton gets no such benefit of the doubt, despite her excellent record of achievement as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State.
Chait warns that unless Hillary “shuts down the Clinton Foundation altogether”, she could “sink her presidency.” Would that be the Presidency that hasn’t even happened yet, Jonathan? Hillary is starting with two strikes against her before she is even elected, much less inaugurated. Aren’t we tired of this treatment? The “she’s wrong before she’s even awake” attitude is as unjust as it is crazy-making. But according to him, she has to grin and bear it. Whether Chait means it or not, this attitude is not unlike telling an abused woman she’d better not piss off her irrational husband, or she’ll have her beating coming to her.
No doubt the Clinton Foundation will have to undergo major changes if Hillary becomes President. Thanks to the excellent reporting of Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer, we now know that such changes are already in the works, and have been since February 2016:
“The former president, along with foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton… outlined plans underway to find new homes for existing programs…
They also informed staffers that the foundation would no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton is elected, and that Bill Clinton would plan to step down from the board …
But the plans to transition the organization’s dozens of programs would go further, fundamentally transforming the Clinton Foundation as it’s known today — vast and with people across the globe — into an enterprise far smaller in size and scope.
The changes are the outcome of an intensive effort that began in February, led by Bill and Chelsea Clinton, to identify and address potential conflicts of interest, including the programs that receive funding from corporate donors, Wall Street, foreign governments, and other interests with a stake in politics and policy, according to foundation officials who outlined the months-long process.
Should Hillary Clinton win this fall, the foundation will work to find other like-minded charities and entities that can fully absorb the organization’s programs, an array of domestic and international projects on the ground, powered by partnerships between business, government, and nonprofits. Other parts of the foundation’s work may also be spun off into independent organizations, officials said.
The objective is for as much of the foundation’s work as possible to continue as is elsewhere, facilitating a transition that’s seamless for the programs’ beneficiaries.
But the foundation itself expects to retain only a small amount of the programs, which are housed across 11 central “initiatives” …”
Sounds pretty comprehensive, offering a plan to sustain the lifesaving work of an organization which Chait seems to view in less than glowing terms.
Likewise continuing this negative frame in another article, the Washington Post attempted to make a connection between Clinton Foundation donations and access to Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Lots of reportage, but not one example of pay for play. And Chait wonders about the “merits” of Hillary’s “venal reputation”?
Karoli Kuns, editor in chief of Crooks and Liars put it best in her article, Why Do So Many People Hate Hillary? Meet Your Press:
“Make no mistake. Much of the negativity swirling around Hillary Clinton today is deeply rooted in long-standing sexist press themes rather than reality. Republicans are as horrified at the prospect of a woman becoming President as they were about a Black guy being President.
When you hear questions framed like the ones in the video above [sharing 40 years of sexist treatment of Hillary], or you hear media allowing the frame that she is a “horribly flawed candidate,” allow yourself the space to consider that it is their perception only. It’s something they’ve invested in for 40 years now, and they’re unlikely to let it go anytime soon.
I recommend that everyone read [her] emails too, or at least a chunk of them. When you do, you’ll discover what I did: Hillary Clinton is no monster. She’s a wonky, caring public servant who has a firm grasp on reality and policy.”
I have run out of patience with journalists anxious to tell you what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton well before she even has the opportunity to make it right. I brace myself for 8 years of this because the press will never give her a break. Their reasons are their own, most of them beyond reason. Social media, thankfully, is now a more powerful outlet to turn the tables on her tormentors and demand they stand and deliver justification for their bias.
We cannot forever hold a woman to standards we would never hold a man and expect women and girls will ever occupy an equal seat at the table.