An Attorney General announces an investigation into a company for fraud; four days later, the founder of the company donates generously to her re-election campaign, and her office decides to drop the lawsuit. Smell like corruption to anyone else?
Enter the 2016 American presidential election. In 2013, the Trump Foundation donated $25,000 to the re-election campaign of Pam Bondi (Florida’s Attorney General) after she announced that Florida would consider joining New York’s suit against Trump University. Not only did the donation violate regulations on charities’ political activities, it immediately preceded Bondi’s decision to withdraw from the case.
Here we have an example of a pay-to-play corruption scandal, out in the open with all the proper evidence, being largely ignored by the media. Instead, the media has shone the spotlight on the Clinton Foundation, an organization founded by Bill and Hillary Clinton that works against childhood obesity in the US, supports African agriculture, and combats HIV/AIDS around the globe. American news companies have highlighted the rough correlation between Clinton Foundation donations by individuals and organizations and meetings with then-Secretary of State Clinton. These statistics, however, exclude both federal officials and foreign leaders, two groups which occupy the vast majority of the Secretary of State’s time.
This episode illustrates a common complaint among American Democrats: Hillary Clinton, being an experienced public official, is taken seriously as a candidate and held to a higher standard than her opponent and “joke candidate”, Donald Trump. For such an imbalanced presidential race, the media has an incentive to portray the race as closer than it actually is, with each candidate having an equal chance at winning despite multiple independent sources saying otherwise.
The most recent example of this conflict of interest was MSNBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, where former Secretary Clinton was grilled on her support of the Iraq War while Trump falsely claimed that he opposed it from the beginning, without being corrected, fact-checked, or even quoted by Matt Lauer, the host of the joint interview.
In conclusion, when observing this presidential election, regardless of whether you’re American or not, keep in mind that one candidate is an experienced public official who has worked to combat AIDS in poor countries, and the other is a businessman who has filed for bankruptcy multiple times, made repeated racist and sexist comments, and advocated killing the families of terrorists.
Written by: Kyle Beatty (’18)
Photography by: US Department of State, https://www.flickr.com/