Wednesday, August 24, 2016

AP Story On Clinton Foundation Has A Lot Of Spin, Plenty Of Flaws

Hillary Clinton

Reporters from the Associated Press recently released an article that insinuates Hillary Clinton, during her time as Secretary of State, gave an inordinate amount of time in terms of meetings or phone calls, to Clinton Foundation donors.

Donald Trump is calling the entire escapade a "pay for play" scam.

Starting with a lead that "85 of 154 people who met or had phone conversations with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state donated or pledged commitments to her family charity."

Well, what isn't explained very well in all that is the figure excludes all meetings with any government employees, American or otherwise. And that's a huge amount of her meetings/phone calls.

Plus, the AP analysis only covered the first half of Clinton's time as SOS.

The Clinton campaign is pushing back.

"Well, because they took a small sliver of her tenure as secretary of state, less than half the time, less than a fraction of the meetings, fewer than I think 3 percent, the number they've looked at of all the meetings," chief strategist Joel Benenson told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "This is a woman who met with over 17,000 world leaders, countless other government officials, public officials in the United States. And they've looked at 185 meetings and tried to draw a conclusion from that."

As Matthew Yglesias from Vox explains, "the story is there's no story."

Publication bias is the name of a well-known but hard to solve problem in academic research. A paper with a striking new finding is much more likely to be accepted at a top journal than a paper that says, "I investigated an interesting hypothesis, but it turned out to be wrong." This means that spurious findings — statistical coincidences and such — make it into the published literature, while boring null results don’t. This gives a distorted picture of reality simply because everyone is trying to be interesting.

Similarly, the AP’s basic reporting project here seems like it was worth a shot and probably also fairly time-consuming. But it did not come up with anything. Clinton tried to help a Nobel Prize winner. She went to the Kennedy Center Honors. She had a meeting with the head of the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics about a State Department charitable initiative.

There’s just nothing here. That’s the story. Braun and Sullivan looked into it, and as best they can tell, she’s clean.

I have to say with all the calls to "shut down the Clinton Foundation," I have to ask, "why?"

This foundation takes money from rich people to help poor people. Gee, what a terrible idea (read that dripping with sarcasm).

The Clinton Foundation is responsible for things like purchasing HIV drugs for patients in Africa and delivering them so governments there won't steal it. The Foundation literally keeps people alive.

Or, said another way, many, many people would die if the Foundation were to be shut down immediately. Who would keep those folks meds coming? What would happen to them.

At the end of the day, the story is a secretary of state of the U.S. met with important people - which is basically her job.

Most importantly, while attempting to insinuate a lot of "possible" unethical behavior, the story found none.

No "pay for play," no favors granted - no nothing.

So move on folks, there's nothing to see here.

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