On Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Sen. Claire McCaskill’s familyfoundation donated $873 to the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation and that this donation “raised red flags for Republican opposition researchers.”
On the board of directors of the American-Russian corporation is none other than Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the man at the center of increasingly dubious Russian collusion investigations. The Post-Dispatch report followed a politically significant story from CNN International on Monday evening well capsulized in the headline, “Despite tweet, McCaskill attended reception at Russian ambassador’s home.”
The story of McCaskill’s woes is gaining traction across the state and around the world, but the Kansas City Star, as of Thursday morning, remains absolutely mute on any of it. The Claire McCaskill Star readers get to know is the heroic, bi-partisan one “ready to work with anyone to improve health care for Missourians.” This sleight-of-hand represents the most common form of “fake news”: the suppression of politically harmful stories and the elevation of politically useful ones.
Under normal circumstances, McCaskill’s gift of $15,000 to Planned Parenthood would have stirred more political interest. McCaskill, however, has been hoisting herself on a Russian petard of her own making since March when she slammed her former colleague Jeff Sessions by tweeting, “No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign [Relations Committee].”
As soon became known, McCaskill had two earlier encounters with the Russian ambassador, one by phone and in person. Then on Monday CNN revealed that in November 2015 McCaskill also attended a black-tie dinner at the Russian ambassador’s Washington residence. Now, it turns out she also donated to Kislyak’s foundation.
McCaskill is up for re-election in 2018. As the Post-Dispatch reports, the Senate Leadership Fund is targeting McCaskill in no small part for the shifting story on her Russian relationships. Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack has described McCaskill’s various accounts as a “web of lies.”
To be sure, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives McCaskill ample space to unspin the web, but at least the paper has been covering the story.