In a very heavy news weekend, Wikileaks dumped tens of thousands of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, stolen by what experts believe to be Russian hackers. Many of those Republicans and Sanders supporters outraged by this alleged that the press and even Twitter were “suppressing” this news.
While all of the revealing exchanges in this dump have surely not yet been discovered, what has been unearthed shows incompetence, unprofessionalism, and typical inside-baseball type politics with one major exception.
From Fox News:
In one email [sent in May of 2016], DNC staffers were looking for ways to blunt Sanders’ popularity with Democrats. In a May 5 email, a DNC employee asked a colleague to collect information on his religious beliefs – claiming it might sway voters in West Virginia and Kentucky. In that particular email, Sanders name was not mentioned but he was the only other candidate in the race at that time against Clinton.
DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall wrote, “This would make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
The official who wrote the e-mail told The Intercept that he did not recall the exchange, but believes he was “probably [talking] about a surrogate” and not the candidate himself. That is hard to believe, but it doesn’t matter either way. This is some startling campaign nonsense from the party that’s supposed to be the “home” for the non-religious, to say nothing of the insult it makes to both atheists and Jewish people.
Rather than evidence of corruption, most of these leaks show what many people already believed: the Democratic Party is its own worst enemy.
From CBS News:
An internal email from DNC spokesman Eric Walker mocked a Buzzfeed news report analyzing the DNC and the Republican National Committee’s potentially weak cybersecurity.
Another email shows DNC staffers’ fake craigslist job posting made for women who wish to apply to jobs at one of Trump’s organizations. The fake position, titled a Honey Bunny, requires the prospective applicant to, among other tasks, refrain from gaining weight, be open to public humiliation and be alright with groping or kissing by her boss.
Other emails show that the DNC used its interns to bolster some anti-Trump protests. This does not prove the ludicrous charge from Republicans that these protesters are “paid agitators,” but does show a level of collusion that muddies that argument, especially with those already inclined to believe it.
A DNC staffer also reportedly posted a fake craigslist ad, saying the Trump campaign wanted to hire women “who must be hot” and who wouldn’t minded being kissed or groped by “the boss.” The official job title was “Honey Bunch.”
There are also reports that the DNC colluded with press it deems favorable and was, privately, insulting to press it didn’t. A reporter working freelance for Fox News on a story about Hillary Clinton being an “enabler” of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals in the past was called “an asshole” in an email. Another staffer also joked that he wished he could reply to his email with a “fuck you emoji.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper was cited as showing bias, because a DNC staffer wrote in an email that one of their producers was asking them for “questions” for the host to ask DNC spokesperson Luis Miranda. Tapper released a statement explaining that the email merely shows part of a typical pre-interview that wanted to be focused on the Democratic race and not DNC officials deflecting to trash-talk Republicans.
Everything else, from complaining about headlines to strategizing how to to discredit their detractors (Republicans and Sanders-supporters alike), is simply business-as-usual for what is simply a political public relations firm and fundraising organization.
The leaks do show that as the campaign moved into spring, when any party organization would prefer the primaries be over, that the DNC and the Sanders campaign had a hostile relationship. Sanders and his surrogates attacked the DNC in the press, and they naturally talked about how to respond to such allegations.
By the end of April, even the Sanders campaign knew they weren’t going to win without some unprecedented shift in voting demographics (such as would happen had Clinton been indicted by the FBI in May). The night of the April 26 primaries, the Sanders’s concession statement was the first time that Sanders and company started talking about fighting “for a progressive party platform.” Even they knew they were sunk.
The DNC didn’t rig the game, but they certainly did try to call it before the last primary voters cast their ballots. At the time it was all but a certainty that Clinton would win the nomination and the Sanders campaign was actively battling them. Could they have handled things better? Surely. Is it corruption? Not even close.
The DNC’s function is not that of a “small ‘d'” democratic body, but rather a PR firm and organizing committee focused on winning elections. To them, when Clinton’s nomination seemed inevitable, they were trying to shift gears towards the general election. As Nicholas Loffredo writes for Newsweek, “is it really shocking if the DNC preferred Hillary Clinton as the party’s candidate?”
For most of his career, Bernie Sanders has not been a Democrat. As popular as his policy proposals were this election season, they would not be so in 2020 when he would almost surely fail to deliver on them. The idea that would become the Affordable Care Act was far more popular than Sanders’ plan was, but when it passed it became an albatross around Obama’s neck that hurt him during the campaign.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments below.