Donald Trump’s victory last week hit Hillary Clinton’s supporters hard, leaving them scrambling for alternate ways to support the causes in which they believe. Writers on the Left have no shortage of ideas, most of which involve donating time or money to some progressive cause. Slate collected some of the most popular options, which include Emily’s List, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and of course supporting your local lefty writers. Others have suggested Planned Parenthood, which may see a funding shortfall if congressional Republicans get their way. The ACLU received so many donations that their website crashed.
It is strange, then, that no one thinks that the best way to make the world better in these dark times is to donate to the Clinton Foundation.
The foundation has received its share of criticism, but throughout Clinton’s presidential campaign, her supporters brushed aside those critiques. They refused to believe there could be any ethical discrepancy when a donor gave money to the foundation, and then received a benefit from the State Department—despite the fact that Hillary Clinton ran the State Department, and her husband ran the foundation. When some of these concerns bubbled up to the mainstream press, the Clinton’s loyal retainers did their duty and chalked it up to their perennial foe: the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Media Defended the Clintons During Hillary’s Campaign
Consider, for example, one article in August from Vox’s Matthew Yglesias. After reviewing an Associated Press story questioning the Clintons’ sharp dealings, Yglesias declared that the report contained “absolutely no unethical conduct.” His apologia went on at length, but the crux of it is here:
Journalists have, rightly, scrutinized the situation closely. And however many times they take a run at it, they don’t come up with anything more scandalous than the revelation that maybe billionaire philanthropists have an easier time getting the State Department to look into their visa problems than an ordinary person would.
See? Just people helping people. No big deal, no conflict of interest, and certainly no scandal.
It’s not just Yglesias. There are many more examples of credulous media personalities playing defense for the Clintons and their corporation. Just two weeks before the election, Vox writer Jeff Stein called additional revelations “wildly misleading” and said they were “laughable and should not be taken seriously.”
But just saying the foundation was not corrupt was not enough: writers on the Left wanted desperately to convince us that it was actually a tremendous force for good in the world. In an article entitled “The Clinton Foundation Is Not a Scandal. It’s a Phenomenal, Life-Saving Success,” Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern informed his readers that the Clinton Foundation was “the source of salvation for millions of people.” Our disdain for the foundation, argued Stern, stemmed from the fact that the “Clinton Foundation runs one of the most phenomenally successful AIDS relief programs of all time, and AIDS relief is simply not on most straight people’s radars.” That’s right: if you have a problem with the Clinton Foundation, it can’t be because you are concerned about corruption; it must be that you want people to die of AIDS.
There’s No (Ethical) Reason the Foundation Has Power
That particular defense of the Clinton Foundation was always a weak one. There are many AIDS charities in the world. Healthline.com lists several of the best in a 2015 article—the Clinton Foundation is not among them. Helping AIDS victims and working for a cure to that deadly disease are worthy causes, but you can do both without getting mixed up in a political pay-to-play operation.
The biggest lie about the foundation was that its donors gave out of devotion to the cause, not because they hoped to reap any benefit from the Clintons and the U.S. government. It never made much sense that this foundation, the aims of which overlapped with so many existing nonprofits, should have amassed so much wealth and power so quickly. But to a news media that sincerely believed Hillary Clinton’s speeches were worth $225,000 to Goldman Sachs with no strings attached, perhaps any suspension of disbelief is possible.
The people who wrote these vigorous defenses of the foundation sounded sincere. But if the Clinton foundation is truly a force for good, then it should remain so when its founders no longer have their hands on the levers of power in Washington. Indeed, if criticisms from the Right were in error, the foundation should see no shortfall in donations in 2017. And for lefties who are brokenhearted over their standard-bearer’s defeat and looking for a way to navigate the world after the fall of the House of Clinton, no recipient should be more worthy than the foundation.