ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, records show. The contribution is publicly available information, but the host had not previously disclosed it to ABC viewers, despite taking part in on-air discussions about the Clinton Foundation and its controversial relationship with foreign donors.
Stephanopoulos, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, confirmed the donation to POLITICO's Dylan Byers after the Free Beacon contacted ABC News for comment. The host, who acknowledged making two donations of $25,000 between 2013 and 2014, issued a statement of apology for failing to disclose his contributions. Stephanopoulos later disclosed that he made another $25,000 disclosed in 2012.
"I made charitable donations to the Foundation in support of the work they’re doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation, causes I care about deeply," Stephanopolous said. "I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record. However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation. I apologize."
ABC News issued a statement of support for Stephanopoulos, while acknowledging that he should have disclosed the donations:
As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply and believed his contributions were a matter of public record. He should have taken the extra step to notify us and our viewers during the recent news reports about the Foundation. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him.
Stephanopoulos's recent coverage of the topic has been challenged by critics who question his objectivity as a longtime Clinton aide. The host's April 26 interview with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, for example, elicited partisan reactions after Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed the Schweizer to acknowledge the lack of a "smoking gun" among the allegations in his book.
Conservative commentators, meanwhile, complained about Stephanopoulos’s “aggressively” dismissive questioning, and took issue with a former Clinton operative asking Schweizer, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, about his “partisan interest” in writing Clinton Cash. Jonathan H. Adler at the Washington Post argued that while there was nothing wrong with Stephanopoulos making note of Schweizer’s ties to Republicans, ABC News viewers should have also been reminded of the host’s connection to the Clintons, the politicians at the center of the discussion.
“If Schweizer’s former funders and employers are relevant to ABC News, George Stephanopoulos’s should be as well,” Adler wrote. “Simple disclosure in the context of a news segment is not too much to ask.”
Stephanopoulos was hit with accusations of bias back in 2012 when, while moderating a Republican primary debate, he somewhat randomly asked Mitt Romney about a decades-old Supreme Court case concerning a state’s right to ban contraception. ABC News is one of several networks chosen to host a Republican primary debate in the 2016 cycle.
Note: This post has been updated to include Stephanopoulos' disclosure of an additional $25,000 donation to Clinton Foundation in 2012