- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 31, 2015

If presidential candidates other than Hillary Rodham Clinton are leery of being questioned by ex-Clinton aide-turned-ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, so far they’re not showing it.

Mr. Stephanopoulos, a former top adviser to President Bill Clinton, interviewed Sunday three contenders in the 2016 presidential race — former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — on ABC’s “This Week.”

The interviews come shortly after Mr. Stephanopoulos came under fire for failing to disclose $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation before his April 26 grilling of Peter Schweizer, author of “Clinton Cash,” a critical examination of former Secretary of State Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. Mr. Schweizer called the lapse “a massive breach of ethical standards,” but ABC News later issued a statement calling it an “honest mistake.”

The flap has raised questions about whether Mr. Stephanopoulos can act as an unbiased journalist in a race featuring Ms. Clinton.

That point was underscored Sunday in his interview with Mr. O'Malley during which her candidacy came up repeatedly.

At one point, Mr. O’Malley, who is challenging Ms. Clinton for the Democratic nomination, took a swipe at the Clinton and Bush families.

“I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street — the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families,” Mr. O'Malley said, referring to Ms. Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an anticipated Republican candidate.

“Are you saying that both Bush and Clinton are beholden to the bullies of Wall Street?” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

Later, Mr. Stephanopoulos brought up the outcry over Ms. Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account for State Department business.

“Secretary Clinton also facing questions about her email account, about the foundation. Is that something voters should be worried about?” he said.

Mr. O'Malley declined to comment, saying: “She’s capable of defending herself. She has had a very noteworthy career of public service and service to our country. So I think we should focus on the ideas.”

At least one declared GOP candidate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, has said he would not appear with Mr. Stephanopoulos, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that the former Clinton aide is “too close to the Clintons to really give an objective interview.”

Mr. Stephanopoulos‘ ties to the Clintons are no secret: He was a top campaign adviser in 1992 to Mr. Clinton and featured prominently in the post-election documentary “The War Room.” He served in several positions in the first Clinton administration, leaving at the end of the term to join ABC News, where he holds the title of chief political correspondent.

After the Clinton foundation disclosure, Mr. Stephanopoulos said he would not moderate a 2016 Republican presidential primary debate. Even before the flap, several Republicans had groused about Mr. Stephanopoulos‘ lack of objectivity, given his close ties to the Clintons.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus stressed afterward that he would never have signed off on allowing Mr. Stephanopoulos to moderate a GOP debate.



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