ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Apologizes For Not Disclosing Clinton Foundation Gift

The chief anchor of ABC News acknowledged Thursday that he did not disclose a substantial donation to Bill Clinton’s charitable organization even as he reported on both the former U.S. President and his wife, Hillary, now a leading candidate for the office in 2016.

George Stephanopoulos gave two gifts totaling $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, but did not tell ABC viewers of that fact when he interviewed people about the Clintons’ activities on air or covered topics pertinent to them in ABC News programming.

“I made charitable donations to the foundation in support of the work they’re doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation, causes I care about deeply.  I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record,” Stephanopoulos said in a statement.  However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the foundation. I apologize.”

The disclosure was reported previously by Politico.

Stephanopoulos’ disclosure will likely come under scrutiny — not only by political adherents who might wonder if his charitable contribution suggests bias, but also because an anchor at a rival network, NBC’s Brian Williams, has been suspended for six months after disclosing he had not been transparent with viewers and the public. In that situation, very different from the matter in which Stephanopoulos finds himself, Williams made up details about a 2003 trip he made aboard a Chinook helicopter in Iraq and claimed the craft had come under fire while he was aboard.

Stephanopoulos is one of the most recognizable faces of ABC News. He co-hosts ABC’s top-rated morning program, “Good Morning America,” as well as its Sunday public-affairs showcase, “This Week.” He is also supposed to be person behind the anchor desk when news of national and international importance breaks.

In a statement, ABC News suggested Stephanopoulos was not likely to face a reprimand. “As George has said, he made charitable donations to the foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply and believed his contributions were a matter of public record,” the network said. “He should have taken the extra step to notify us and our viewers during the recent news reports about the foundation. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him.”

Stephanopoulos is not in violation of ABC News policies, a person familiar with the situation said. The unit allows employees to make donations to charities of their choice. Where the anchor erred, this person said, was in not disclosing the contributions to viewers when reporting on topics related to the Clintons. In April, for example, Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweitzer, author of “Clinton Cash,” a book that examined how donations to the Clinton Foundation could have influenced Hillary Clinton’s actions and decisions while she served as U.S. secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.

That distinction could be critical. In 2010, MSNBC suspended anchor Keith Olbermann for making donations to political candidates without getting approval from superiors, a violation of company policy at the time. Stephanopoulos, however, donated to a cause, not directly to someone seeking office. He makes donations comprising millions of dollars to several charities, the person familiar with the situation said, and the gifts given to the Clinton Foundation represent a small percentage of that sum.

The anchor’s ties to Bill Clinton are well known. Before joining ABC News, he was a senior advisor and a communications director in the president’s administration.

Update: Stephanopoulos later acknowledged his donations came to $75,000, not $50,000.

More TV


    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Cast Talks New Music (Watch)

    Disney has debuted a preview clips of the upcoming “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” in which the cast discusses how the music of the original movies and 2019’s tunes combine to tell a new tale. Indeed, it’s the start of something new: instead of cheering on Troy Bolton and Gabriella, a next generation [...]

  • Facebook Stock

    PBS' 'Nightly Business Report' to Cease Production by Year End

    “Nightly Business Report,” the PBS program that started in 1979 and became TV’s longest-running business-news broadcast, is set to cease production by the end of the year. CNBC, which picked up production of the show in 2013, has decided to end its association with the show, according to people familiar with the matter. “NBR,” originally [...]

  • Rick Ludwin, NBC Late-Night Executive Who

    Rick Ludwin, NBC Late-Night Executive Who Backed 'Seinfeld,' Dies at 71

    Rick Ludwin, the longtime NBC executive who championed “Seinfeld” and worked in late-night from the Johnny Carson era through Jimmy Fallon, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71. Ludwin was well-liked throughout the TV industry and was highly regarded as a student of the medium. He retired from NBC after 31 [...]

  • Kim Rozenfeld

    Kim Rozenfeld Exits Apple as Head of Current, Unscripted

    Apple’s Kim Rozenfeld is exiting his post as head of current scripted programming and unscripted at Apple, shortly after the launch of the tech giant’s streaming service, Apple TV Plus. The TV exec will now work with the Cupertino behemoth through his company Half Full Productions, as part of a newly inked first-look deal with [...]

  • President Donald Trump speaks before signing

    TV News, Scrambling to Cover Impeachment Inquiry, Will Break Into A.M. Schedule

    The U.S. government is getting ready to take over morning television – at least for a few hours. The three major broadcast-news outlets are preparing to break into regularly scheduled programming Wednesday morning to offer viewers information on the first public hearings of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, while [...]

  • Titans -- Ep. 201 -- "Trigon"

    'Titans' Renewed for Season 3 at DC Universe

    Live-action drama “Titans” has been renewed for a third season at DC Universe. The news comes ahead of the conclusion of the 13-episode second season, which launched on the streaming service back in September. New episodes of the show drop on Fridays. The third season is slated to drop in Fall 2020. In the second [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content