Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million — and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.
In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.
Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90’s that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s — largely before the Internet.)
Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.
This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found — which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.
Today – Not So Much
Today things are different. Compare the magnitude of Hillary’s $100,000 profit to the recent disclosure of as much as $100,000,000 — one hundred million dollars — turning up in Mitt Romney’s IRA which is a personal retirement investment vehicle that is limited to a few thousand in contributions each year. (Remember, the gains made in an IRA are not taxed.) Romney is already retired, and the one completed tax return he has disclosed shows that he currently has an income of approx. $450,000 per week.
So how did $100 million end up an an IRA that is limited to deposits of a maximum $6,000 a year (after you reach a certain age)? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has up to $100 million in an IRA?
Compare Hillary’s $100,000 profit to the disclosure that Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account. A candidate for President of the United States has a Swiss bank account? (And a Caymans bank account? And others?) Why? What is the explanation? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out?
Compare it to the disclosure that Mitt Romney owns a secret company in Bermuda, which was transferred to his wife the day before he had to disclose it, or what it is or does. How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has a secret company in Bermuda, and what that company does, how much it pays in taxes and how much money it holds, and why it was transferred to his wife the day before he took office as Governor?
Compare it to the more recent disclosure that after 1999 Romney’s company Bain Capital was telling the government and other parties that Romney owned all the shares, was President and CEO and managing the place, but now says that was all a scam and he wasn’t really! (That’s illegal — a felony — by the way.) How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out if he lied on his SEC forms? ONE news organization did report this story — well, actually they reported information originally uncovered by a progressive website and a progressive magazine.
Where Is Our Media?
News media. Information. Informed decision-making in a democracy. Investigative reporting. The public’s need to know. What has happened to these concepts? They seem alien in today’s media environment.
Our news media’s purpose is supposed to be to provide the public with the information that is needed to make informed decision. It is supposed to be investigating our leaders to find out if they are really acting in our interest. Why are they not doing this at this crucial time?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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