Accuracy in Media

Rolling Stone appears to be confused about the idea of a gift. Either that or it wants to make a rather biased political point – we tend to think the latter.

There’s a word that should appear in this reporting, and it doesn’t. The absence shows that there’s a certain bias, possibly something missing, from the journalism, the reporting.

Rolling Stone says: “Jared Kushner’s Middle East Peace Plan Involves Nations Giving Him Billions of Dollars” — of course, no one is giving anyone any money.

What is happening is that various very rich people and governments are putting money into an investment fund run by Jared Kushner. This may be a good idea, may not be, but it is their money and they also expect to get it back, with a profit. This is not a gift, they are not “giving” it to Kushner. No more than our mutual 401(k)s “give” money to Vanguard when we try to save for our pensions.

But of course, it does look worse if it is described as a gift so that’s the headline they chose.

The source of all of this is the New York Times detailing how Kushner and Steve Mnuchin have raised investment funds from Middle East investors since leaving office. As the NYT says, it’s not unusual for people to utilize contacts made in office to then attempt to profit from it.

The story is in several places of course and the thing that really surprises us is that missing word. Which is, of course, “Clinton”. For after Bill left office, and when Hillary was clearly going to be running for it, there was the Clinton Foundation. Which many Middle East and other rich people really did make “gifts” to. A couple of billion dollars in fact. To be spent as the Clintons desired on whatever – agreed, not on the Clintons themselves, but the projects they wanted to see funded.

Those donations really were gifts. It’s also remarkable how, since Hillary didn’t get elected, donations have fallen off.

Rolling Stone is of course famous as a music magazine but it’s long had political pretensions as well. Which used to be fairly well balanced – anywhere that employed both PJ O’Rourke and Hunter S Thompson could be said to be balanced even if the wings were a long way from the center – and which might not be described as such these days. As a music media outlet, it’s ranked at No. 12 for the U.S.; it’s around 2,000 as a global website. It gains some 24 million visits a month.

Investing money with someone isn’t a gift to them. Donating money to a charitable foundation is a gift. If folk are worried about money in American politics shouldn’t that distinction be made clear? Even, mentioned?




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