Newsmax Media Inc. CEO Christopher Ruddy said Tuesday that his column the previous day defending the Clinton Foundation received much press attention because "I was adding something to the debate that most people didn't know.
"I know there's a lot of smoke," Ruddy told J.D. Hayworth on the new "Newsmax Prime" program on Newsmax TV.
"We've been talking about all the smoke. Is there really a fire?"
Noting that he is a "proud" conservative journalist who has been active with the foundation for more than seven years — even as a contributor — Ruddy said: "I have never seen, in all my dealings with that foundation, any whiff of politics, political opportunism, of anyone trying to use the foundation money for their own purposes.
"When I hear these allegations, I really feel that I should speak out about it and give what my take on it is," he said.
In his Monday column, "In Defense of the Clinton Foundation,"
Ruddy slammed allegations in the forthcoming "Clinton Cash" book (HarperCollins) by Peter Schweizer that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton engaged in quid pro quo transactions with foundation donors.
Many of Schweizer's accusations were detailed in a Fox News special on Friday. It charged that the book showed the "tangled" and "blurred" relationships between the foundation and the Clintons' activities.
"After watching the Fox program, it became clear to me the only thing 'tangled' and 'blurred' are the numerous unsubstantiated, unconnected, and baseless allegations being made about them," Ruddy said in the column.
"Well, if there’s smoke — there’s fire?" he later concluded. "Perhaps it’s better to say, 'Where there’s smear, there’s not always fact.'"
Ruddy noted that the foundation works as a liaison via its annual Clinton Global Initiative summit, bringing together donors and charities worldwide that are "working on the front lines of poverty alleviation, education, and healthcare."
The event seeks "commitments" — and those pledges are honored "directly with the charities," Ruddy said. "No money flows into the Clinton Foundation."
The initiative has raised $100 billion for charities over the past 15 years, he said. "There's no political activity that I have ever seen," Ruddy told Hayworth.
Links to the piece were posted on Drudge Report, Politico, and The Washington Post, among other news outlets. Schweizer, in response, canceled a Newsmax TV
interview to promote his book.
In addition, companies controlled by News Corp. own Fox News and HarperCollins, Ruddy noted in his column. Another subsidiary owns The Wall Street Journal, which initially raised the issue of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.
"If you look at all the allegations in the new Peter Schweizer book, there's no real substantial allegation that's proved that they had done anything wrong with any of the funds they raised or at the time Hillary was in government," Ruddy said Tuesday. "My point is, until you have proof, you shouldn't make the allegation."
Schweizer may discuss his book on Newsmax TV at any time.
"He's always welcome. Everybody's welcome," Ruddy said. "We have a history, even though I have a point of view about it, of giving people a platform to express themselves where we don't ambush them and we don't shoot them down."
The author has appeared on Newsmax TV "many times" over the years, Ruddy said, most notably about his 1996 book — "Victory" — on a secret strategy developed during the Reagan administration in 1982 that hastened the demise of the Soviet Union. He called it "a classic book."
"But this book, for all the talk about it and all the controversy, there is no 'there' there about the allegation," he said of the Clinton work. "I was hoping Peter would go on Newsmax TV to express himself. It's unfortunate that he doesn't want to do that."
Ruddy also blasted news reports in which charity-watchdog groups likened the Clinton Foundation to the National Action Network, the troubled nonprofit founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton that owes more than $800,000 in federal payroll taxes.
"What they don't realize is that the staff that works at the foundation are in places like Africa putting through the programs, the healthcare programs the foundation supports," Ruddy told Hayworth. "You need those people and pay those salaries. That is part of the charity.
"They're not sitting in New York in luxury offices all day long," he added. "Most of the staff are out in these places that, frankly, most people would not go to without bodyguards."
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