MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last night arched an eyebrow or two over the news that two big newspapers are taking an early peek at Peter Schweizer’s impending book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
As first reported by the New York Times, Schweizer’s publisher, HarperCollins, has hammered out arrangements with Fox News, The Washington Post and the New York Times to pursue “story lines” from the book, which reportedly outlines allegedly cozy relationships that run through the Clinton family: specifically, foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation receiving favorable treatment from the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. “We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Schweizer writes, according to the New York Times.
In her assessment of these goings-on, Maddow found no news whatsoever in the fact that Fox News was partnering with Schweizer. “There’s no real surprise that before this book hits the shelves, none other than the Fox News Channel has an exclusive television deal to report on the explosive contents of the book. Tonight, the host at FOX News who is called Bret Baier had a special report on this new book. If that’s not enough for you, this Friday an hour-long special on it, ‘The Tangled Clinton Web.’ ”
Fox News has denied that it has inked an exclusive arrangement to “pursue story lines,” as the New York Times contends.
As we pointed out yesterday, Schweizer has something of a history as a right-leaning rabble-rouser. He’s the guy who alleged in an awful Politico Magazine story that President Obama had barely met with then-Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the years leading up to the launch of the disastrous HealthCare.gov. In pursuing that piece, which stemmed from the work of Schweizer’s Government Accountability Institute, the reporter apparently didn’t contact the White House for comment.
Bad move, because months later, the Hill blew Schweizer’s piece out of the water. Using official documents, the Hill reported, “Sebelius met with or attended calls and events with Obama at least 18 times between Oct. 27, 2012, and Oct. 6, 2013, including at least seven instances in which the two were scheduled to discuss the new healthcare law.”
A similar Schweizer effort alleging that President Obama had skipped all manner of security briefings also suffered considerable debunking.
Maddow: “What is surprising is that along with the Fox News Channel having some sort of exclusive deal to advance hype this anti-Clinton book from this conservative activist who has a history of doing stuff like this, we are also now learning that New York Times and The Washington Post have also entered into some kind of arrangement with the author, with Peter Schweizer, to pursue the material included in his book, in advance of its release.”
Guest David Brock, founder of Media Matters for America and for the pro-Clinton super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, agreed with Maddow: “I would say it’s disappointing that the New York Times is chasing the same story as Fox News,” said Brock. “I think what we have here that might be unique is a convergence of millions of dollars being spent by Republicans on opposition research, and a press corps that’s so competitive on the Clinton beat that they’re looking for any anti-Clinton crumb.”
Right — just as they should.
Despite what we often hear about our polarized media, Fox News and the New York Times and The Washington Post and Politico are quite often chasing the same stories.