In this week’s episode of “Political Gabfest,” a political-commentary podcast released by Slate, a pro-Hillary guest host unleashes a several minute long criticism of the Clinton Foundation and its:
“performance of very public charity.”
To hear Adam Davidson, a contributing writer at The New Yorker, describe a Clinton Foundation event and his take on the organization’s charitable work, begin listening at the 24:55 minute mark in the audio below.
“I’ve spent a decent amount of time at the Clinton Global Initiative,” Davidson begins:
“I sort of fell into this thing, which — what I’m about to say means I’m probably going to fall out of this thing.”
Davidson, who has “spent a lot of time reporting in Haiti,” often moderates the organization’s annual Haiti panel and attends its sessions and events:
“And there is a real creepy vibe, to me, personally, at the Clinton Global Initiative.
“It seems, to me, that it is all about buying access. It is incredibly expensive just to go to the thing … and there are sort-of these explicit ways in which you get access. You pay more money to get more access to political leaders and to really rich people and to big corporate leaders.
“There’s this kinda creepy theatre that happens where you have the CEO of Coca-Cola or IBM or whatever or GE up there with President Clinton and they’re just bathing each other in love over how generous and wonderful they are and how much they care about the world and all these earnest people applauding and thrilled.”
Even their charitable work is mediocre, comments Davidson. “If you talk to development professionals,” he said, “it is not in the top tier:”
“I have seen their work in Haiti up close in person. There are some very good people who work there, but they are — Haiti is one of their singular focuses. It is a very small country. They have not had a major impact on Haiti.
“It’s more the performance of very public charity, not the actual intervention in deep and meaningful ways.”
Celebrities, Davidson suggests, come with the price of admission:
“And then every hour or so they parade — Angelina Jolie is hustled through a room and she doesn’t stop to talk to anyone or hang out but you get to say that you were with Angelina Jolie that morning.
“It just feels like the worst version of an elite selling access to the aspirational, creating this theatre of doing good, but it’s all about something else. It really feels gross.”
Later, Davidson distinguishes between the Clinton Foundation — which aims to connect donors and advise them on how to best spend their resources — and the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the foundation that is an annual conference of world leaders and influencers.
Davidson moderated panels for the Clinton Global Initiative and its organizers, he said, “would really want a good event.” “They wanted a good hour of conversation where people disagree.”
But the Clinton Foundation is, by contrast:
“Just a bunch of people congratulating each other on how awesome they are.
“And here’s a head of state of a foreign government who needs to be on that panel even though they literally have nothing to say but we promised him a slot.
“Yes! It’s disgusting.”
Does any of this change Davidson’s opinion about Clinton?
“Obviously, I fully support Hillary Clinton,” he said in the podcast few minutes later, after calling the Democratic presidential nominee “gross” on the issue of rent-seeking, the economic term for when a company or individual lobbies a government for special benefits.
“I can’t wait to vote for her,” Davidson said. “If I had time I’d go move to Missouri or Ohio or somewhere so my vote could actually count.”