Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's Hard EZ Being a Pimp

As Eric Boehlert observes in his current Media Matters column:
[NYT reporter Jeff] Gerth's misfires became as predictable as his reporting style. The drill went like this: Gerth would write accusatory, albeit muddled accounts of alleged Clinton wrongdoings and lean heavily on the cover-up angle. The allegations were often fueled by questionable partisan sources, and Gerth often refused to seriously consider alternative (i.e. benign) explanations for the questions raised. [emph added]
Drawing on even less credibility and skill than Gerth, Dick Morris plays the same game.Here's an excerpt from his current NewsMax "column."
Hillary, Bill Clinton Linked to Elder Scam - How Much Were They Paid?

Since he left office in 2001, former president Bill Clinton has been paid by $3.3 million by InfoUSA, an Omaha, Nebraska company that has been identified as a key provider of specially designed databases that have been sold to criminals who use the detailed information to defraud the unsuspecting elderly.

The consulting fees to the former president were only part of the largess InfoUSA showered on the former president.

Vinod Gupta, the CEO of InfoUSA, lent the Clintons the company's jet which took them to places like Switzerland, Hawaii, Jamaica and Mexico.

The jet service was worth a staggering $900,000.

And Gupta gave the Clinton library a six-figure gift as well. Indeed, just months after he left the presidency, Bill Clinton was paid $200,000 for a speech given to InfoUSA in Omaha.

InfoUSA is not the kind of company with which a former president and the husband of a presidential candidate should associate.

According to the The [sic] New York Times, InfoUSA compiled and sold lists that disclosed the names of elderly men and women who would be likely to respond to unscrupulous scams.
Curiously (not), Morris doesn't provide a link to the NYT article; he doesn't even name its title or author. I finally tracked down what Morris was referring to as his source (something I doubt the typical NewsMax reader bothers to do). Morris had selectively picked out informational bits from two different NYT articles -- "Suit Sheds Light on Clintons' Ties to a Benefactor" by Mike McIntire and " Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist," by Charles Duhigg -- and then created a most unflattering and incriminating collage of the Clintons based on a current InfoUSA shareholder suit and an old (and closed) fraud investigation whose authorities have praised InfoUSA for its help and cooperation.

The NYT articles themselves are heavy-handed regarding InfoUSA and the Clintons as well, but at least they include statements from Hillary Clinton's campaign staff that all the requisite documentation was completed and the air transportation repaid as required by the Senate Ethics rules. It's funny/stupid that Morris accuses the Clintons of hiding something (sound familiar?) and then cites dozens of dates, locations, and dollar figures for political events and political donations taken right from publicly available campaign and tax records.

To be fair to InfoUSA, their response to the NYT article on "Bilking the Elderly" is here.
Unfortunately, the New York Times story plays on public anger against these [fraudulent marketing scam artists] and natural sympathy for their victims to imply that legitimate businesses like infoUSA are culpable. It unfairly tars the reputation of the direct marketing and banking industries by emphasizing out of all proportion the sad circumstances of a single victim of someone else's crime. Oddly, this comes years after the authorities investigated and ultimately closed their inquiry, commending infoUSA for its cooperation. [emph added]
Oh it's not odd at all, Mr. Gupta. You're a friend and supporter of the Clintons.

BONUS FUN FACT: You know who also has "links" to InfoUSA? Colin Powell and Karen Hughes! Yep -- they've earned nice consulting and speakers fees too. Not that Dick Morris would ever mention it.

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