PBS NewsHour host and managing editor Judy Woodruff donated $250 to the Clinton Foundation five years ago.
Even though the sum was small and for charity — the Haiti earthquake — PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote that the donation was wrong. “The choice of the Clinton Foundation, even in a small amount and with the best of intentions, was a mistake in my book,” he wrote.
Making matters worse, PBS NewsHour didn’t report on the high-profile news about ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos’s undisclosed $75,000 donation to the Clinton foundation over the past few years, Getler wrote. Getler said that PBS NewsHour‘s website ran an Associated Press story — that “did not mention Woodruff” — but had no on-air report.
“It doesn’t look good from where I sit,” Getler commented on the appearance PBS NewsHour‘s coverage was affected by Woodruff’s donation.
The news of Woodruff’s donation broke last week in an article by the Wall Street Journal that focused on Stephanopoulos’s donation. “Judy Woodruff, the co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, gave $250 in 2010 to the foundation’s aid efforts for victims of the Haiti earthquake,” The Wall Street Journal reported May 14. “At the time, she was covering politics as a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour.”
iMediaEthics has asked PBS NewsHour and Woodruff if Woodruff told PBS about the donation before the Journal article and if it was ever disclosed before on air.
Woodruff told the Journal she “made the gift in response to an urgent joint appeal from former President Clinton and then-President George W. Bush for aid to the victims of the Haiti earthquake.” She added that “Seeing the massive loss of human life and the terrible conditions for survivors, I wanted to make a contribution and saw this as a way to do that.”
After the Journal article, Woodruff disclosed the donation on air May 15 as an “editor’s note.” She stated, according to PBS:
“There have been questions this week about journalists’ contributions to the Clinton Foundation and my name has come up. I want to clarify what happened. In 2010, after the massive earthquake in Haiti, I made a gift of $250 to the Haiti Relief Fund, established by the Clinton Foundation. It was meant for charitable purposes only.”
The Journal originally reported that Woodruff donated $1,000, based on what she said, but later corrected to $250. That correction reads:
“Correction: Judy Woodruff says she gave $250 to the ‘Clinton Haiti Relief Fund,’ established by the Clinton Foundation, based on her review of her 2010 tax return. Ms. Woodruff had initially recalled the donation as being for $1,000.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that its “current corporate parent, News Corp., hasn’t given money to the Clinton Foundation since it was formed in 2013 in a company spli, according to a spokesman for News Corp. The Journal’s previous corporate parent, the old News Corp., gave between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation prior to the split, according to the Clinton Foundation database and the spokesman.”
Hat Tip: Poynter