CNN bizarrely framed an article around former President Bill Clinton not giving a speech to a company that, three years after the engagement, would be accused of crimes -- even though former President George W. Bush actually gave the speech to that company. The article was based on an email obtained by a right-wing organization whose leader has targeted the Clintons for decades.
Under the headline “Bill Clinton mulled speaking request for company later charged by SEC,” CNN.com began its September 18 article by reporting that Clinton had considered taking a fee to speak at a corporate event that Bush actually ended up attending instead (emphasis added):
President Bill Clinton's aides once explored the possibility of him addressing a lavish energy conference, whose sponsor the Securities and Exchange Commission later accused of using a Ponzi-like scheme to obtain the money to cover the $200,000 speaker fee. The possibility of Clinton's participation in the event was discussed in an email from Clinton staff to a State Department official obtained by CNN.
Instead, Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush, spoke at the September 2012 event, billed as a “U.S. China Energy Summit.”
The company, Luca International, and its top executives are now the subject of a lawsuit alleging securities fraud brought by the SEC in July. The complaint alleges that Luca misspent millions in foreign investor funds for improper purposes, including the summit, an all-expenses-paid golf junket to Pebble Beach, California, designed to recruit more Asian investors to the company.
The article goes on to note that “Both Clinton's staff and Don Walker, president of the Harry Walker Agency, the speaking agency booking engagements for Bill Clinton, expressed concerns about the request,” specifically because the Clinton camp had misgivings about the event's host.
It's unclear why the outlet would deem it newsworthy that Clinton, who has regularly given paid speeches since leaving the Oval Office, would consider but decline to give this one. According to Buzzfeed, which originally broke this story months ago just days after the SEC fraud complaints were filed, Bush did accept the $200,000 speaking fee from Luca International. News outlets and conservative activists have frequently sought to scandalize the Clintons' speaking engagements.
The article also acknowledges that it is based on an email between a Clinton staffer and State Department officials who reviewed such potential speaking engagements “provided to the conservative group Citizens United” and “obtained by CNN.” Citizens United is headed by David Bossie, who in 1998 was fired from his job as chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- which was investigating alleged Clinton White House finance abuses -- because he released selectively edited transcripts that gave the false impression that then-first lady Hillary Clinton had been implicated in wrongdoing. His group regularly releases shoddy “documentaries” smearing progressives.