May 22, 2017

Reporters Falsely Claim Ivanka Trump Will Control World Bank Entrepreneurs Fund

When it comes to “news” which might discredit Donald Trump or a member of his family, the modus operandi for too many in the press is, “Tweet and report first, ask questions later (if at all).” On Sunday, several media members couldn’t resist falsely tweeting that Ivanka Trump will somehow control $100 million pledged by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs, thus dishonestly opening the door to utterly false parallels to the Clinton family-controlled Clinton Foundation.

An average reader will easily understand Carol E. Lee’s original reporting at the Wall Street Journal concerning who will control the money:

Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. Pledge $100 Million to World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund

Donation announced at event with Ivanka Trump, an advocate for businesswomen who proposed the fund

The World Bank announced Sunday at an event with Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president’s daughter and senior White House adviser, that Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have pledged a combined $100 million to a fund that will assist women entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“As a female leader within the Trump administration, my focus is to help empower women in the United States and around the globe,” Ms. Trump said.

The Women Entrepreneurs Fund is currently being formed and will be aimed at helping women in the Middle East by easing their access to finance, markets and networks.

The pledge will help allow the World Bank to announce at July’s G-20 Summit that they will have created a $1 billion fund for women’s economic empowerment through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Facility, which World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said was a first.

“I think this fund … is going to make a huge difference,” Mr. Kim said.

… Ms. Trump has made the promotion of women entrepreneurs a signature part of her focus since her father’s inauguration in January. She has advocated for issues such as paid family leave, though the issue has gained little traction in Congress. While she had proposed the idea of the World Bank fund, Ms. Trump doesn’t control it or raise money for it, one person familiar with the plans said.

Setting aside the merits of the fund and whether it can really accomplish what it sets out to do — the World Bank’s record in these matters, at least through 2012, was far from stellar — it’s pretty obvious what “Ms. Trump doesn’t control it or raise money for it” means.

Apparently it wasn’t that obvious to Rebecca Ballhaus, Lee’s colleague at the Journal.

Ballhaus’s first tweet referred to “Ivanka’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund”:

RebeccaBallhaus1IvankaClintonFdn052117

Given that Ivanka Trump reportedly proposed the fund, the tweet could be read as only attributing credit to her for the idea. But then Ballhaus betrayed her total misunderstanding of the situation:

RebeccaBallhaus2IvankaClintonFdn052117

At that point, it was off to the races for others who couldn’t resist getting in their digs without digging in and verifying the facts.

CNN’s Ana Navarro was an early arriver:

AnaNavarroCNNIvankaClintonFdn052117

Eric Lipton at the New York Times also took a shot:

EricLiptonNYTIvankaClintonFdn052117

Those tempted to defend Lipton because he was at least asking a question and not necessarily jumping to a conclusion will have a hard time justifying his desperately silly followup: “This is true and important distinction. But if donations r bring made to ‘honor’ Ivanka or to impress her/POTUS, it still raises parallels.” Lipton fails to identify a valid “parallel” between receiving contributions of hundreds of millions of dollars one controls (the Clinton Foundation) and perhaps being the public face of a group whose money and management one doesn’t control (Ivanka Trump).

CNN’s Jim Sciutto, a former Obama administration political appointee, couldn’t resist:

JimSciuttoCNNIvankaClintonFdn052117

John Harwood at CNBC, which last time I checked was a business news channel whose reporters one would hope actually verify financial arrangements before they shoot from the hip, also piled on:

JohnHarwoodCNBCIvankaClintonFdn052117

The likes of George Takei and other Trump-deranged tweeters carried the ball from there:

TakeiIvankaClintonFdn052117

Sunday evening, CNN.com arguably did the greatest damage to the truth in an opening paragraph which was still sitting there 22 hours later as of when this post was created, with a halfhearted and unlabeled attempt at something of a correction appearing two paragraphs later:

Saudis, UAE pledge $100 million to Ivanka Trump-proposed fund

Just two days into President Donald Trump debut foreign trip, a member of his inner-circle has already reaped benefits to the tune of $100 million.

In a sunlit ballroom Sunday morning at the Tuwaiq Palace in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka Trump’s proposed Women Entrepreneurs Fund — a concept she first shared during her own inaugural international trip as first daughter last month to Berlin, Germany — was promised a combined $100 million by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates specifically to help women in the Middle East.

The fund, which will be run by World Bank, not Ivanka Trump …

How one “benefits to the tune of $100 million” without having access to or control of the $100 million remains an unsolved mystery.

A “story highlight” at the CNN web page actually reads: “But the fund could open the President up to charges of hypocrisy.” What?

Even CNN’s own Jake Tapper effectively recognized how dishonest his own network’s reporting above was, and still is:

TapperCNNIvankaClintonFdn052117

After combining the tens of thousands of retweets of the erroneous tweets noted above with CNN’s website dishonesty, the idea that Ivanka Trump controls a $100 million fund “just like” the Clinton Foundation has surely taken hold in the Trump-deranged community, despite the many cleanup attempts in process at center-right and other outlets.

Nice job, guys. (That’s sarcasm.)

At TheFederalist.com, Mollie Hemingway identified three possible reasons why this clearly fake news got legs:

1) The original report on the fund, from a new online site called Axios, was imprecise.

True enough, but the Wall Street Journal’s Ballhaus, whose misreading of her own colleague’s reporting started the festivities, appears to have been uninfluenced by that report.

2) The Trump family has a lack of transparency.

One would think that this history would cause reporters to make sure they had their facts right before blindly broadcasting false information.

But no, because Hemingway’s third reason carries the day:

3) A cartoonish hostility in the media to Trump.

Ding-ding. There’s your winner.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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