Morning Joe: Why Scarborough Is So Angry (And So Wrong) About Algeria

Morning Joe: Why Scarborough Is So Angry (And So Wrong) About Algeria

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were kind enough to host a discussion of my new book, Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton. But as the discussion got a bit hot, among the subjects that came up was Joe’s “inventive” theory about the Algerian government’s donation to Haitian relief via the Clinton Foundation in 2010, which he elaborated during the publicity rollout for Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash. After I departed the set this morning, Scarborough continued to vent his displeasure with me. The following excerpt from pages 435-426 may suggest why he was so irritated that he would attack me when I was no longer present to defend myself and my work — and it certainly shows why his verbal indictment of the  Clinton Foundation was so wrong:

Journalists who had paid only fleeting attention to the foundation’s work over more than a decade proclaimed their concern about its finances, transparency, and efficiency.

Commentators with very little knowledge of any of the foundation’s programs, still unable to distinguish the Clinton Global Initiative from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, confidently denounced the entire operation as dubious. Others glancingly recognized the good achieved by the foundation before moving on to denounce the Clintons’ “greed.” And media stars who had eagerly participated in Clinton Global Initiative events, broadcasting gushy interviews with Bill Clinton, suddenly voiced angry suspicions, unproven accusations, and inventive theories.

On April 27, for example, Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, held forth about a 2010 donation to the Clinton Foundation from the government of Algeria, which had been earmarked for Haiti relief. That donation mistakenly went unreported as a pass- through, because it never accrued to the foundation balance sheet.

But to Scarborough, who had conducted a very friendly interview with Clinton from a set at CGI in September 2010, the Algerian money smacked of corruption. He had a theory, too: Algeria’s government wanted to be taken off the State Department’s list of nations that support terrorism.

“I think it was Algeria, maybe, that had given a donation that went unreported at a time when they wanted to be taken off of the terror list in the State Department,” he mused. “They write the check, they get taken off the terror list. . . . At the same time, and then it goes un- reported by the Clinton Foundation. . . . Is there a quid pro quo there? I don’t know, that’s really hard to tell.” Scarborough continued in that vein for several minutes.

The facts were considerably less exciting. Algeria had never been on the State Department’s terror list, which only included four nations; in fact, the Algerian government routinely fought terrorists within its borders and had long been a valued ally of the United States against terrorist organizations operating in North Africa.

Not at all chastened by this blunder, however, Scarborough continued to savage the Clintons the following morning when he interviewed Peter Schweizer. Having once represented a Florida congressional district, Scarborough compared the Clintons unfavorably to several former congressional colleagues and a recent governor of Virginia who all had been convicted of bribery. The proven criminal behavior of the elected officials, he insisted, “pales in comparison to [what is in] this book.”

Much of the most damning material in Clinton Cash, however, turned out to be either factually inaccurate, melodramatically exaggerated, or both. Within weeks after publication, major media outlets reported significant errors discovered in its pages.


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