By: Larry Elder
What took so long?
The question isn't whether George Stephanopoulos compromised his credentials as a "journalist" by failing to reveal his donations to the Clinton Foundation. The question is why, immediately after Stephanopoulos left the Clinton administration, ABC hired this partisan in the first place.
In 1996, when ABC hired him, the initial press release said he would "serve both as a political analyst and as a correspondent." The "correspondent" role caused such an uproar -- even in liberal mainstream media -- that a few days later ABC quickly retreated: "I don't know how that got into the press release," said a spokeswoman. "He will not report the news."
Then-ABC News Vice President Joanna Bistany said Stephanopoulos would be a commentator like ABC contributor William Kristol, Republican Dan Quayle's former chief of staff. "I view it the same way as Kristol," she said. "He has a point of view, a political persuasion." Bistany also said, "We want a mix of voices," assuring that Stephanopoulos wouldn't "do anything that has any appearance of conflict."
Then came the double cross.
By 1999, Stephanopoulos was a regular contributor on "World News Tonight" and "Good Morning America" and had co-anchored ABC's overnight news program. Still, ABC assured viewers that he'd stay away from partisan political stories. "We're all conscious of the sensitivity with him having been part of the news in Washington," said then-ABC News President David Westin. "We wouldn't have him be the beat reporter on the (Al) Gore campaign." An ABC spokeswoman added, "He will not be the beat reporter assigned to a campaign," although that "does not mean that we won't have him doing more general political stories."
In 2002, Stephanopoulos became host of "This Week," and two years later ABC named him "chief Washington correspondent."