Beyond the Headlines About Emails and the Clinton Foundation

You’re going to see a lot of headlines like this today: “Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept.” Sounds bad doesn’t it? Here are the details.

A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

But wait…in the 5th paragraph of the story comes this:

The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.

Way down in the story we are told that the “sports executive” got a “no” to his request for the British soccer player, no one had any idea what to do with Bono’s request, and yes, the crown prince of Bahrain got a meeting with Clinton – by going through “official channels.”

Going back to that headline, what we see is that – when it comes to “foundation donors” – 2 of them didn’t get access, but the crown prince of Bahrain did eventually get a meeting with the Secretary of State. That’s the big story? Really?!

Beyond that there seems to be some inference related to the fact that many of these requests went through Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. There are a couple of other stories about people who donated to both Democrats and the Clinton Foundation getting meetings with the Secretary of State via contacting Abedin – people who wanted to discuss their involvement in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and refugee issues.

I suppose that if there was never a Clinton Foundation, we wouldn’t be subjected to stories about whether the Secretary of State held meetings with people involved in the work she was doing because of donations rather than simply because that was part of her job. So we can now say, “Damn the Clintons for trying to raise money to address global issues! It just messed everything up.” But knowing that a lot of people simply read headlines and run with them, perhaps we could also ask that the media not load them up with unjustified inferences. Nah, that one is probably a bridge too far.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .