“Money makes the world go around,” the old adage states, but when the worlds of politics and crony capitalism come together, a lot can get done, and as we know, a lot of money changes hands. Thanks to Wikileaks’ release of John Podesta’s emails (Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager), any average Joe can now peer into the way the world works, focusing on the Clintons’ politics and their strategic media partners, one of which appears to be Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central’s cable network.
Colbert was unabashedly supportive of Clinton for president. He must surely be eating humble pie after confidently declaring in 2015, concerning Donald Trump’s chances at winning the presidency, “You’re not gonna be president, it’s been fun, it’s been great, I love you, but come on, come on, buddy! All let’s say cow poo poo aside, there is zero chance we’ll be seeing you being sworn in on the capitol steps with your hand on a giant golden Bible.”
Frankly, Comedy Central and Stephen Colbert (who currently hosts The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) can make arrangements with charities and advertisers, alike, if they so choose, but the American people are now much more keenly aware of the networks’ business dealings, thanks in part to Wikileaks’ leak of Podesta’s emails.
Craig Minassian, Chief Communications Officer for the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Global Initiative”, wrote Podesta a post-production email about a few episodes The Colbert Report did promoting CGI University. Much like “Trump University,” the “CGI University” is no university at all, but rather, “hosts a meeting where students, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities come together to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges,” according to its website.
But it’s Minassian’s choice of words, in his email to Podesta, which is now raising eyebrows. “John, I hope you got a chance to see The Colbert Report's two special episodes I had them do about CGI U that we taped in St. Louis this weekend,” the email reads, implying Minassian has some power and influence over the direction, content, and substance in the production of The Colbert Report. “I had them do,” is what is written. Wait! What?
Minassian’s influence at Comedy Central could have something to do with the fact that he used to work as a consultant and producer at the channel. The email continues, “This is the link to last nights with a sketch about commitments and the monologue and WJC interview aired Monday. Hope you enjoy and looking forward to your feedback.”
Requesting feedback is often done when someone is a subordinate, to a more powerful person, such as Podesta. Could it be that Minassian was asking for praise or some sort of constructive criticism? If so, why? And then he goes on to suggest he has the power and influence necessary to get Podesta on the show as well. He wrote, “Next will be your Colbert appearance!” The thought may be disturbing to some who’d like to think their comedy shows aren’t being used to program their minds into believing a certain way about the Clinton Foundation and its activities.
Apparently, the aim for featuring the work of the CGI on The Colbert Report was to ensure CGI University was presented in a favorable light. Maybe the Clinton campaign knew the CGI would become an albatross for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for the presidency. And taking campaign swipes at the ominous fowl was Trump, who said according to NPR, “It's impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins…It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and to them for money."
It is important to point out that because we are pointing out corruption within the Clinton camp and Comedy Central that the Free Thought Project is not promoting Donald Trump. It is entirely possible to bipartisanly call out corruption, and here at the Free Thought Project, that is what we do -- regardless of party affiliation.
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Leaked emails implicated both Hillary Clinton’s state department (under Obama) and The Clinton Foundation of collusion and convolution of the lines between official government business and the work of the foundation. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “At least 85 people from private interests who had donated to the Clinton Foundation met with Clinton while she was secretary of State, according to an Associated Press review of her calendars.” Whether or not those meetings constituted a “pay-to-play” scheme is a matter for a judge and jury to decide, should it ever come to that.
Returning back to the influence the CGI had over at Comedy Central, from the Podesta emails one might easily conclude that not only was the Clinton Foundation actively at work attempting to promote its public image, it was using comedy to do so, possibly to desensitize younger viewers to explosive allegations of the foundation’s mismanagement of funds.
Over the years, there were a number of videos produced by the Comedy Channel, featuring either Bill Clinton or daughter, Chelsea. Daughter Chelsea was a guest on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show in September of 2013, praising the work of the foundation of which she is vice president, just a few months after father Bill was featured with Colbert. However, it must be noted, Stewart often suspiciously mocked the Clinton’s money troubles at the foundation, with a wink and a nod at suggestions their money woes were a simple oversight.
The allegations the Clintons, their foundation, and secretary Clinton all engaged in a pay-to-play scheme to give access and special favors to donors, and capitalize on donations made to the foundation, may have come to a head when former Senate President of Haiti, Bernard Sansaricq declared at a press conference in September of 2016 that the Clinton Foundation gave less than 2% of the over 14 billion dollars donated to the CF for the relief efforts to Haiti following a devastating 2010 earthquake which killed somewhere between 100,000 and 160,000 people, destroying homes and displacing over 500,000 people.
Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, investigated those claims and concluded one would have to be a friend of the Clintons to have benefited from the relief efforts in Haiti. The New York Times described Clintons’ roles in rebuilding Haiti. “The Clintons had large roles in the earthquake recovery effort, Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state and Mr. Clinton as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). Along with his predecessor in the White House, the elder George Bush, Mr. Clinton raised tens of millions of dollars through the Clinton Foundation to promote development, schools and farming in Haiti, while also helping draw hundreds of millions in private investments.” But according to
But according to Fox News’ Brett Baier, investigating the claims in Schweizer’s book, the money was given to individuals and companies who were big donors to the Clinton Foundation. Digicel was a cell phone money transfer company which was created in the aftermath of the earthquake, supposedly with funds acquired from the billions taken in through the CF. Digicel’s CEO Dennis O’Brian, an Irish billionaire, reportedly arranged for Bill Clinton to receive lucrative speaking engagements, and had also donated millions to the CF. Digicel reportedly earned 55 million in revenue from Haitians using the money transfer service. VCS
VCS Mining, also benefited from the IHRC and the CF. VCS was awarded a gold mining permit for Haiti, although the company “didn’t actually have much mining experience” according to Baier, but had Tony Rodham (Hillary’s brother) on its board of directors. The government of Haiti, the U.S. State Department, the CF, and the IHRC, all collaborated on the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti to create 60,000 jobs (according to the CF website). But Baier contended the company’s main tenant, a Korean based textile firm Sae-A, also a major donor to the CF, has only been able to deliver 5,000 jobs for Haitians. “No one is saying that the Clinton Foundation doesn’t do good things around the world,” Baier stated. “But as you see the web is pretty tangled with the businesses and the individuals who both set up big lucrative speeches for President Clinton and also donated millions to the Clinton Foundation,” he concluded.
The National Review was less than sympathetic in its evaluation of the Caracol venture.
Caracol has proven a massive failure. First, the industrial park was built on farmland and the farmers had to be moved off their property. Many of them feel they were pushed out and inadequately compensated. Some of them lost their livelihoods. Second, Caracol was supposed to include 25,000 homes for Haitian employees; in the end, the Government Accountability Office reports that only around 6,000 homes were built. Third, Caracol has created 5,000 jobs, less than 10 percent of the jobs promised. Fourth, Caracol is exporting very few products and most of the facility is abandoned. People stand outside every day looking for work, but there is no work to be had, as Haiti’s unemployment rate hovers around 40 percent.