It was quickly apparent in the wake of last week's news that George Stephanopoulos had quietly donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation that he should have no part in Republican primary debates, and now his ability to fairly moderate a Democratic debate is being questioned too.
Stephanopoulos, who became ABC News' chief Washington correspondent after many years of handling press for the Clinton family, has come under fire for not disclosing that he was a major Clinton Foundation donor even as he defended the embattled organization on ABC.
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Stephanopoulos has already said that he will not moderate a Republican primary debate due to his partisanship and close relationship with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but now calls are growing for him to recuse himself from moderating—or even covering—Democratic debates as well.
Jeff Greenfield, who worked with Stephanopoulos at ABC, raised the issue on Sunday of whether Stephanopoulos can be trotted out by ABC for any political coverage at all.
"ABC has said now, Stephanopoulos can't moderate a Republican debate," said Greenfield on CNN. "Well, what else are they going to say he's not going to be able to do?"
"You're going to cover a Democratic debate with Hillary Clinton? Are you going to cover our conventions? You're going to analyze the debates given this situation?"
Greenfield added that this was a "self-inflicted wound" by ABC and Stephanopoulos and also that it was proof that "very smart people can sometimes be very foolish."
Speaking on the same panel, Carole Simpson, who also used to work with Stephanopoulos at ABC, said, "he isn't a journalist."
"While he did try to separate himself from his political background to become a journalist, he really isn’t a journalist," said Simpson. "ABC has made him the face of ABC News, the chief anchor, and I think they’re really caught in a quandary here."
Writing in the New York Post, Michael Goodwin argued that "Stephanopoulos has forfeited all trust as a newsman" and that "Hillary Clinton’s Democratic rivals … are victimized by his conflicts."
Media expert Mark Feldstein told the Washington Post that "it’s going to be hard for Stephanopoulos to lead ABC News’s campaign coverage the way he has in the past."
"If Clinton opponents keep banging the drums about this, it’s going to be hard for Stephanopoulos to lead ABC News’s campaign coverage the way he has in the past," said Feldstein, who also added that keeping Stephanopoulos in place may turn out to be a good thing for Republicans.
"Republicans may prefer that Stephanopoulos remain in place during the campaign to serve as a useful punching bag symbolizing what they view as liberal media bias," he said.
"George is the centerpiece of their 2016 coverage. By donating to the Clintons, he has blown his credibility in one catastrophic move," an ABC News insider told the New York Post. "How can he moderate a debate or question a Republican candidate without questions over his impartiality?"
Stephanopoulos seems to be very aware that the problem is not going away. He issued three separate apologies and said the contributions were a mistake.
In addition to the contributions, it has also been revealed that the spokesperson for Stephanopoulos' ABC show also worked in the Clinton White House (handling press for First Lady Hillary Clinton).