Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Polling Firm

When one reads a critical piece of investigative reporting, one has always to consider
the source. Never is this more true than in the case of Hillary Clinton. One can hardly
imagine a Democratic politician against whom right-wing opposition research is more
vigorous right now.

But what if the influence peddling suggested by the research turns out to be "right,"
so to speak? What if the simplest explanation is correct? What if the dots really do
connect?

Two Sundays ago, the New York times ran an investigative article on infoUSA, an
Omaha, Nebraska-based company that, among other things, sells and licenses lists
of consumer data to telemarketers. Several years ago, an investigation found that
infoUSA had sold this data to "telemarketing criminals who used it to steal money
from elderly Americans."

Last Thursday, the New York Post followed up with a piece -- co-authored by legendary
Clinton adviser Dick Morris -- highlighting the lucrative relationship between the Clintons
and infoUSA's founder, chairman and CEO, Vinod Gupta.

On Saturday, it was the New York Times's turn. The Times expanded on the Clinton's
relationship to Gupta
, revealing that Gupta is now the target of a shareholder lawsuit
that accuses him of financial mismanagement of the company.

Among the things Gupta used the company's money for, according to the Times
and the New York Post:

$147,000 for a private jet flight for Hillary and Bill Clinton,
Gupta, and others (vacation to Acapulco) in January 2002

$2.1 million in consulting fees to Bill Clinton from April 2002
to April 2005 ("confidential advice and counsel to the chairman
and CEO of the company for the purpose of strategic growth and
business development," plus 1-2 company events per year)

$1.2 million for new 3-year consulting contract with Bill Clinton,
starting October 2005 (plus open-ended option to buy 100,000 shares
of infoUSA stock)

$900,000 (total) in private jet flights for Bill Clinton
(presidential foundation) and Hillary Clinton (campaigns)

2006 Clinton Global Initiative sponsor

Board membership for Terry McAuliffe at subsidiary firm,
videoyellowpagesusa.com

According to Times and New York Post articles, Gupta also personally gave:

$2 million to Hillary Clinton's millenium celebration

$1 million to Bill Clinton's presidential library

$1 million to Bill Clinton's presidential foundation

$20,000 (total) to Hillary Clinton's presidential and
2006 senate campaigns, including $5000 to her PAC
in December 2006, as she was preparing to launch
her presidential bid

The Washington Post ran its own article on Saturday, which reported that Gupta also gave:

More than $220,000 to the Democratic Party during
Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate race

And The New York Sun reported that Gupta gave

$100,000 to Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate bid

and that Gupta

Raised an additional $100,000 for Clinton's
2000 bid at a fund-raiser he held at his home.

Yes, Gupta was a member of the Lincoln Bedroom Club. And no, Hillary Clinton has not yet
detailed on any presidential or Senate financial disclosure form exactly what Bill Clinton is
doing for his $3.3 million in consulting fees plus stock options.

The question is whether Hillary Clinton stands to gain more from Vin Gupta's deep pockets
than a padded bank account and deeply discounted plane tickets.

WHICH IS WHERE CNN COMES INTO THE MIX...

Newsbusters is a conservative Web site with the tagline, "Exposing and Combating (sic)
Liberal Media Bias." On Saturday, Newsbusters featured Tom Blumer's review of the Times
and New York Post coverage of the Gupta story.

Toward the end of the review, which he crossposted at his own site, Blumer digs a little
deeper to find that, in December 2006 -- the same month that Gupta wrote Hillary Clinton's
PAC a check for $5000 -- Gupta's company bought Opinion Research Corporation, a 70-year-
old polling firm which, as it happens, had been doing polling for CNN since April 2006.

A few weeks later, in January 2007, CNN announced that "Opinion Research Corporation
will become CNN's new polling partner as the network moves toward the 2008 elections.
Beginning in 2007, polls released by the network will be identified as CNN/Opinion Research
Corporation surveys."

CNN political director Sam Feist said in the press release: "As the network gears up to offer
the most in-depth and expansive coverage of the 2008 election, Opinion Research Corporation
will be a key part of giving viewers the accurate and relevant information they demand."

Neither in December 2006, when infoUSA completed its purchase of Opinion Research, nor in
August 2006, when Gupta's company announced its plans, did it mention "CNN" or "polling,"
even though Opinion Research had been polling for CNN since the previous April. Gupta was
quoted in the earlier press release as saying that the acquisition would be "a significant
step in infoUSA's plan to become a diversified marketing services provider to the
corporate and public sectors."

What's interesting to note is that, two weeks after the sale was completed, infoUSA
announced that it had reorganized Opinion Research into two groups -- corporate marketing
research and government research -- and that the head of each group would report directly
to Vin Gupta.

More curious, though, is that, although infoUSA mentions Opinion Research and the CNN
polling connection in its 2006 Annual Report, there appears to be no reference to Opinion
Research anywhere on the infoUSA Web site, apart from four buried press releases.

One would think Opinion Research might feature more prominently on the site, when --
according the Annual Report -- Opinion Research cost infoUSA $132 million -- more than
30% of infoUSA's net sales of $435 million for 2006.

Blumer finds it "curious indeed that the Times could spend over 1,600 words covering the
Clintons and infoUSA without ever getting around to the possibility that Clinton-friendly CNN
and its new partner appear to have the opportunity, and motivation, for manipulating its polling
topics and results."

Curious, indeed:

  • Why did Vin Gupta buy Opinion Research at this particular time?
  • Did CNN help to broker and/or demand to approve the sale?
  • Did Bill Clinton help to broker and/or advise Gupta on the sale?
  • Should we now expect CNN's polls to skew in Hillary Clinton's favor?
  • How can we trust presidential polls that are bankrolled by Gupta,
    when he is also, at this very moment, bankrolling both Clintons
    to the tune of millions?
  • Is any other polling organization essentially owned by one person
    who has been -- and currently is -- so excessively "beneficent"
    toward a single candidate?

And...

What does Hillary Clinton's silence in all this say about her respect for democracy
and her worthiness for the White House?

As a update to his original post, Blumer links to CNN: Biased Reporting and Polling?, a short, DIY
documentary
in which another conservative critic of Hillary Clinton places Vin Gupta's Clinton love
in the context of what he perceives as CNN's pro-Clinton bias.

Granted, all of this is veers a little toward the sensational. But wait: Is this a conservative conspiracy
theory, or is Tom Blumer just following the money trail where it leads?

Indeed, the real question, given CNN's enormous influence in shaping public opinion about presidential
elections, is: If there is any chance that Blumer's suspicions could turn out to be true, can progressives
and the country really afford to ignore them?

This is worth investigating.

Tags: 2008, CNN, Hillary Clinton, MSM, polling, president (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

part of the "inevitablity campaign"

buy the pollsters......that's what I'm wondering about with "ARG"

by nevadadem 2007-05-29 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: part of the "inevitablity campaign"

I am sorry, but this is decidedly too much.  ARG has been around for a very long time.  What is your problem?  This is beyond ridiculous.    

Funny, though, how some always chime in with agreement and bizarre justifications when even the outliest of outlier polls shows up with numbers you care for.  

by georgep 2007-05-29 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: part of the "inevitablity campaign"

Awww, leave us alone and let us investigate...if it is nothing, it is that nothing, but if some illegalities are arise, then it must be exposed.

by icebergslim 2007-05-29 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: part of the "inevitablity campaign"

What "investigation" are you conducting regarding ARG-gate?    

by georgep 2007-05-29 02:58PM | 0 recs
You need to cross reference this at Daily Kos

buying polling companies!!  WTF!!!  I gave her a benefit of a doubt with many thinking all these polling numbers smell fishy, but now, I don't know.

by icebergslim 2007-05-29 02:16PM | 0 recs
I'll say this if CNN polls

differ from the general consensus they are going to be crucified.

by nevadadem 2007-05-29 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll say this if CNN polls

This does make one wonder, because I am telling you, I don't know anyone who is going to vote for her, not a one.  And I live in a Republican Swing District (IL-10), she will need people like this to win the general.  Most women just do not like her.  This is why I am wondering about this polling, it does not make any sense.  Most people you talk with do have opinions of maybe, need more information, etc.  But with Hillary, it is NO.

by icebergslim 2007-05-29 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Po

I won't dispute the press release from infoUSA that says they bought OR.  I won't dispute the NY Times article that says infoUSA sold those lists to telemarketers.  Obviously, it's a morally questionable company.

However, I will take issue with using Dick Morris as a source.  The guy has been anti-Clinton for at least a decade and has made exorbitant claims about Hillary and other Democratic politicians since the 1980's.  The guy is a regular on FOX News and has advised for politicians, even going so far as to claim that Katrina would do for Bush in his second term what 9/11 did for him in his first term.  The guy is a political hack, and shouldn't be trusted.  Just see his wikipedia article for a start on this guy.

by Conquest 2007-05-29 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Po

Not just Morris, earlier today a poster used a garbage article/hit piece with "anonymous sources" from Frederic Dicker, New York's version of Rush Limbaugh, the man who calls himself the "conservative's conservative."

It has gotten ridiculous how posters here use trashy right-wing sources to make their cases.  

by georgep 2007-05-29 02:57PM | 0 recs
I'm not a fan of Morris, either

The point of mentioning him is to show that, once Morris had
connected the Clintons to a company that the Times had just
discredited in another context, the Times had a choice: Do we
ignore it, or is Moriss's information so solid that ignoring it
makes us look like we're covering up?

Obviously, the Times chose the latter, which is why the
paper ran its own story -- validating Morris -- two days later.

This goes to the point I make at the end of the diary.

Is the source of the information a "political hack," to
use your phrase? Perhaps.

Is this political hack's information true? That's a separate
question -- one that, in this case, I believe we can't ignore.

by horizonr 2007-05-29 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Po
If Clinton wins we will be hearing DIEBOLD.
by robliberal 2007-05-29 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Po

That doesn't even makes sense.

by Conquest 2007-05-29 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Po
Not a lot makes sense in many diaries.
by robliberal 2007-05-29 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar

The Clintons will do anything to win..this includes buying pollsters to inflate Hillary's lead...Hillary is so ambitous that it's not even funny..she will do whatever it takes to win..The Clintons believes that the white house is their house and hated the fact that Bill had to leave once his term ended..They will attack-dog anyone thats trying to beat them;.

by JaeHood 2007-05-29 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar
Space aliens could be a part of the conspiracy as well.
by robliberal 2007-05-29 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar

...they are also going to buy, on consecutive days:

Obama, Edwards, Keith Olberman, the entire CNN network, MSNBC while they are at it, the Gallup organization, the Trump empire, all daytime TV talk shows and finally....

George Stephanapoulos

Case closed, country bought, 8 more Clinton years.  

by georgep 2007-05-29 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar

Well I hope the Clintons to anything to win because the Republicans will do everything to win. Unfortunately, Kerry did not do anything to win and Gore did not do anything to win.

Think of it  like the fictional doctor from the series House who will do anything to keep the patient alive. Anything means superhuman effort, and that's what I want in a president.

by superetendar 2007-05-30 09:53AM | 0 recs
Subverting the democratic process...

...is not "superhuman." It's sub-human.

Do you value a free press -- a press that acts freely because
it is free -- or do you really prefer it when public opinion and,
by extension, voting decisions about the next president
are for sale to the highest bidder?

by horizonr 2007-05-30 11:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar Daddy

I did the YouTube.  Gupta owning the polling company used by CNN to influence the electorate for Hillary is incestuous.

by dougfromupland 2007-05-30 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton Sugar

"a little towards the sensational?"  

A LITTLE?   That would be like saying Ann Coulter is just a LITTLE crazy.

(I thought I bring the post count up a little for you, so you won't have to complain about "Progressive's" lethargy in other diaries anymore. :-)  )

by georgep 2007-05-30 05:49PM | 0 recs

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