THE ASSOCIATED PRESS story this week revealing that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton frequently met with donors to the Clinton Foundation, set off a firestorm in the media. Many Democrats and sympathetic pundits are criticizing the article — and have made the sweeping claim that, contrary to many deeply reported investigations, there is no evidence that well-heeled backers of the foundation received favorable treatment from the State Department.

While there are some legitimate criticisms of the AP story — its focus, for instance, on a Nobel Peace Prize winner meeting with Clinton distracts from the thesis of the piece — it is nonetheless a substantive investigation based on calendars that the State Department has fought to withhold from the public. The AP took the agency to court to obtain a partial release of the meeting logs. Other commentators took issue with a tweet promoting the AP piece, which they said might confuse readers because the AP story reflected private sector meetings, not overall meetings.

But in challenging the overall credibility of the AP story, Clinton surrogates and allies are going well beyond a reasoned critique in an effort to downplay the serious ethical issues raised by Clinton Foundation activities.

One frequent line of attack heard this week is that stories concerning the Clinton Foundation, at best, only reveal that some foundation donors received help at the State Department with visa problems:

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