Last week Rush Limbaugh told his dittohead audience that “Eighty-five percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff.” Consequently, Limbaugh asserted, only fifteen percent was spent on actual charitable activities. This attack on the Clinton’s finances is just the latest right-wing effort to invent controversies where none exist. It comes as a new book smearing Bill and Hillary Clinton is about to hit the shelves. That book, “Clinton Cash,” has already been debunked in a major way and it won’t even be out until next week.
Limbaugh’s contribution to the Clinton bashing stems from an article written by Sean Davis for the Federalist blog. The article’s analysis was fatally flawed and misleading. Nevertheless, Limbaugh ran with it and even spun its conclusions further from reality. PolitiFact evaluated his remarks and declared them “Mostly False.”
In short, the Federalist/Limbaugh contention was based on Clinton Foundation tax returns that report that approximately 15% of their funds were distributed as grants to other charitable organizations. They then surmised that all of the remaining 85% went into the Clinton’s pockets. However, what they failed to grasp is that the Clinton Foundation is not a grant-making institution. Rather, they spend their money on charitable operations that they implement in-house, with 88% of their funds going directly to their charitable projects. It’s comparable to the Red Cross that also does not give grants to outside groups, but runs their own relief missions. For comparison, the Red Cross only gave out about 6.5% of their funds in grants in 2013. And, once again, that’s not because Red Cross executives are lining their own pockets, it’s because they finance their own internal projects. PolitiFact explained these differences like this:
“When most people in the charitable world think of foundations, they think of organizations that give away a lot of money in the form of grants to others who go out and do good works. The Clinton foundation works differently — it keeps its money in house and hires staff to carry out its own humanitarian programs.”
These facts were not only lost on Limbaugh and the Federalist, but also on Tom Blumer of NewsBusters who wrote an article defending Limbaugh’s ignorance and criticizing PolitiFact’s “Mostly False” determination. Blumer embraced the same misunderstanding of the Clinton Foundation’s finances and referenced an article by the Washington Examiner’s T. Becket Adams (formerly of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze) that sought to dismiss PolitiFact’s analysis by alleging that the fact-checking site is biased in favor of the Clintons.
The evidence that Adams claimed exposed PolitiFact’s bias was that the Ford Foundation was a donor to both PolitiFact and the the Clinton Foundation. By this warped logic, every recipient of a donation from the extremely generous Ford Foundation is also tied to the Clintons (That’s almost 3,000 organizations in 2013). That, of course, is utter nonsense and a brazenly desperate attempt at guilt by fantastically tenuous association.
Newsbusters thinks it is an unforgivable failure that PolitiFact did not disclose that they received funding from Ford which also donated to the Clinton Foundation. [For the record, Newsbusters receives funding from the rabidly anti-Clinton, anti-Democratic Koch brothers, but made no disclosure of that in their article] And surprisingly, that wasn’t the stupidest thing in Blumer’s column.
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To further drive home his incoherent point, Blumer also cited a report by Fox News that he said supports Limbaugh and the Federalist. Now if you have to rely on Fox News for affirmation you are already in deep trouble. But in this case the report Blumer cited actually did agree with the data Limbaugh used from the Federalist. However, that’s because the source Fox News used for back-up was – are ya ready? – the Federalist. That’s right, Blumer is defending sketchy data published by the Federalist with a Fox News story quoting the same guy who wrote the article in the Federalist.
This is how it works in Wingnutlandia, where you get to provide corroboration for yourself. Just make an outlandish claim on your blog. Then make the same outlandish claim to Fox News. Then some schmuck at Newsbusters will say that Fox News backs you up. It must be nice to live in that reality-challenged, psycho-looping sphere of anti-logic.
[Update 5/8/2015] Now Peter Schweizer, author of the widely debunked smear book “Clinton Cash,” is also regurgitating the phony Clinton Foundation charitable expenditures. Although Eric Shawn of Fox News called it “incredibly misleading.”