Not Interested: Obama Rewards Fat Cat Donors With Top Diplomatic Spots, Networks Yawn
In 2013, Barack Obama has nominated 11 ambassadors who were also huge donors to his presidential campaigns. Yet, NBC, CBS and ABC have skipped the failure of a president who vowed to "change the way Washington works" when it comes to money. As the Washington Times's Dave Boyer reported on Thursday, "Washington bundler John Phillips, who raised more than $300,000 for the president's two elections, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to Italy."
On Tuesday, Matthew Barzun was nominated to be Britain's ambassador. He raised over $500,000 for Obama in 2008. Back on February 28, 2013, CNN reporter Jessica Yellin pointed out the obvious, that people who "raised a lot of money for the campaign will be getting some top jobs." She critiqued, "For the President who said he really wants to get money out of politics, this is definitely sullying some of that brand." But where have the networks been?
Although NBC hasn't investigated this story recently, the Nightly News did four years ago. Lisa Myers noted that rewarding wealthy donors is a "custom apparently embraced by President Obama." On June 13, 2009, she informed, "One-third of his nominees raised big money for his campaign."
The Center for Responsive Politics, a group that liberal journalists love to tout when the organization is going after Republicans presidents, investigated.
In an interview with the Washington Times, Sheila Krumholz, the executive director, mocked White House denials that cash played a large role in the assignments: "Nobody is going to say, 'Oh yes, they purchased that ambassadorship...' But this is the understanding that bundlers bring to the work."
Yet, for some reason, the same networks aren't as interested in the organization's latest findings.
The Times explained:
But government-reform advocates say it's the kind of tradition that Mr. Obama promised to shun when he came into office pledging to "change how Washington works."
"If anything, he's put more of a focus on it, given the number of fundraisers he's attended and the length of his bundlers' list," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Certainly there's no attempt to divorce financiers from the perks of ambassadorships and plum jobs that have consistently been offered up as rewards for that service."
The president's second term got off to an awkward ethical start when he reversed his first-term pledge about refusing to accept corporate donations for his inaugural festivities. Among the corporate donors who funded Mr. Obama's second inaugural celebrations were AT&T Inc. ($4.6 million), Microsoft Corp. ($2.1 million), Boeing Co. ($1 million), Chevron Corp. ($1 million), Genentech Inc. ($750,000), Deloitte LLP ($500,000), FedEx Corp. ($500,000) and Coca Cola Co. ($430,000.) Federal Election Commission records revealed that $18 million of the $43 million raised by Mr. Obama for his second inauguration came from corporations, unions and interest groups.
Watchdog groups criticized the decision and said Mr. Obama had abandoned his principles.
The current nominee for Belgium, Denise Bauer, donated hundreds of thousands to Obama. The last ambassador raised $500,00 for the President's campaign. That man, Howard Gutman, was accused of soliciting prostitutes, some of them underage, in Brussels. Yet, ABC and NBC offered very minimal coverage.
Apaprently the President's change of course, even on a liberal-friendly topic like money in politics, isn't of interest to journalists.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.