Hillary Clinton's Health Scare Stole The Thunder From The Biggest Election Story This Weekend
You probably didn't hear about this weekend's most disconcerting presidential election discovery — and no, it's not Hillary Clinton's pneumonia. The announcement of that diagnosis on Sunday immediately made headlines and, unfortunately, obscured coverage of the 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to a certain degree. The biggest story lost in the shuffle, however, was the Washington Post report released Saturday, which contained perturbing allegations about Donald Trump's charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
According to tax records referenced in the Washington Post report, Trump has not donated to his own foundation since 2008. The report noted that Trump and his wife, Melania, appeared to use his foundation's funds at charity events to buy gifts for Trump himself, including a $20,000 portrait. Of himself.
The Washington Post report also claimed that the Trump Foundation used its money for political purposes (which, if true, would be illegal), and that in its IRS filings, the foundation allegedly claimed to have given money to charities that told the Washington Post they never received the funds:
In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Post that they had never received it. In two other cases, companies listed as donors to the Trump Foundation told The Post that those listings were incorrect.
The Washington Post reached out to the Trump campaign and the Foundation's accounting firm regarding these allegations; both declined to comment.
In most election years, I believe such a report would completely derail a candidacy. Yet, if you just skimmed the front pages of most major outlets, you'd have no idea anything had been reported at all, because of what was, apparently, the other big story this weekend:
The New York Times' front page Monday morning alerts its readers that Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, an illness that affects 10 million Americans each year.
Similarly, BuzzFeed has the scoop about Clinton's illness but doesn't feature the Washington Post's claims that Trump used his foundation's money to buy himself a football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow.
The Wall Street Journal's front page reminds its readers that Clinton became overheated on a hot day. It neglects to inform them that the Trump Foundation claimed to have given money to several charities that allegedly never received it.
In general, I consider Clinton's health to be a relevant campaign issue, as is Trump's. Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis is, in my opinion, pertinent but minor. The allegations about the Trump Foundation, however, are anything but.
Those allegations should've been the biggest story to surface this weekend; I find it deeply concerning that they were not generally reported as such. And based on Twitter, most Americans are otherwise occupied pondering and joking about Clinton's health: At the time of writing, the highest-trending political term was #HillarysBodyDouble, an amalgamation of crass jokes about Clinton and conspiracy theories that she's been replaced with a double.
Moreover, I find it deeply hypocritical that many outlets whose coverage of various controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation was extensive failed to sufficiently examine the Washington Post's Trump Foundation claims. Ultimately, as Matt Lauer recently learned the hard way, Trump must be held to the same standards as Clinton.
Images: New York Times; BuzzFeed; Wall Street Journal