#DNCLeak Shenanigans: From Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to #HillaryClinton and… Russia In Between? | Blog#42

As explosive emails were leaked and the DNC’s inappropriate behavior exposed, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ much criticized tenure as DNC chair seems to finally have come to an end, or has it?

In a data dump released on Friday, Wikileaks posted thousands of internal and external emails to and from DNC officials in what amounts to proof positive that the DNC not only failed to live up to its promise to remain neutral, but it actively interfered with the 2016 primary in a variety ways, even as its chair was claiming impartiality.

At first, when the leak became known, some in the media began reporting the story as one of DNC staff being derisive to Senator Sanders, in a trend to minimize the scope of the story. By Saturday morning, however, the tone of most outlets’ reporting changed, as voters took to social media to register their anger.

Indeed, there is now documentation that top DNC officials looked for ways to plant false or damaging stories in the media, discussed ways to use Senator Sanders’ perceived religious beliefs against him, actively tried to intervene when journalists were hostile to the DNC chair, and even actively promoted the Clinton campaign, all in order to thwart Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign. While the leaked emails have not been verified, one can reasonably assume they are legitimate, with Wasserman Schultz’ initial removal as speaker at the DNC convention in Philadelphia, and her subsequent resignation.

Among the emails that have come to light, one can clearly see the many ways in which people at the DNC inserted themselves into the process their mission was to facilitate as the neutral party, but in no way interfere in. In one instance, there is an email thread in which Debbie Wasserman Schultz was to have a meeting with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd to discuss Mika Brzezinski’s call for Wasserman Schultz to resign from the DNC. In that thread, Luis Miranda proposes backing up the DNC’s assertions about the Nevada primary with discredited Nevada reporter John Ralston’s article about violence at the Nevada Caucus:

“There’s just no evidence that the process has been rigged. It certainly wasn’t rigged in Nevada this weekend, which was not a DNC event but a state party one. But don’t take it from us, here’s what Jon Ralston wrote:


There was no violence as reported by Ralston, who had left the caucus early, no chairs were ever thrown. The mutiny Ralston reported on never happened, either. For days after that caucus, all major outlets, from the New York Times to CNN, based their reporting on Ralston’s, even as PBS was correcting his reporting. Ralston was let go by PBS soon after the Nevada convention. While the Nevada caucus was a state party event, it seems highly unlikely that the only source of information available to very well-connected DNC officials was the press.

Doing simple searches of this email dump turns up emails from DNC official, Luis Miranda, sending emails to external sources with links to media appearances by Hillary Clinton. For example, on May 9th, Miranda emailed someone named Jamal Smith such a list. What for, since Miranda is a DNC official? Why would the DNC and not a Clinton campaign staffer be doing that?

Newly-named Interim DNC Chair, Donna Brazile, is also implicated in the DNC leak scandal. CNN has terminated her position as analyst while she takes over in this official capacity. Among the trove of emails published by WikiLeaks is an exchange that includes her:


As Brazile was named to the top DNC position, came another announcement, this time, from the Clinton campaign:

In the space of minutes, Wasserman Schultz is out, Brazile in, and Wasserman Schultz back in again? Wasserman’s resignation is effective after the DNC convention ends. Before she resigned, there were announcements that her speech was canceled. Then, with her resignation, we learned that she would address the convention at the start and end. That presents the risk that there will be disruptions from the audience, in protest of her mere presence under these circumstances. The Clinton campaign announcement of Wasserman Schultz’ hiring was greeted with derision on social media by pundits, Sanders surrogates and, most of all, angry Senator Sanders voters. But the public was and still is being told things it knows just aren’t right and the Clinton campaign is either completely blind or doesn’t care:


For months, the media blasted Senator Sanders, his campaign staff and his voters for being paranoid and outright lying about all the unfair, underhanded things they noticed were going on all throughout the primary process. Senator Sanders was impugned in every way imaginable by the most highly visible of journalists and analysts. In September last year, Alternet published my piece on what was obviously going on in the media. The piece was widely shared and read by a voting public that was hungry for an explanation of what they saw as unfair coverage. Oddly enough, I was told that the publishing team was very unhappy with my work. Fast forward half a year, and the Harvard University Gazette published a piece in which it quotes a new study by the Shorenstein Center that found that complaints of media bias against Senator Sanders was justified. Indeed, as I reported a few months ago, New York Times readers complained by the thousands when they noticed that an article they were reading about Senator Sanders went from mostly positive to negative, right before their very eyes.

In a new post for The Atlantic, journalist Ron Fournier writes:

“The [DNC Leak] email story also is important because:

  1. This is part of a pattern that goes back decades. So righteous in their cause and paranoid of their enemies are the Clintons, that they cut corners to victory—even when, as was the case in the race against Sanders, they would likely win without shenanigans. Clinton Democrats stacked the DNC with people determined to smooth her path to the nomination.

  2. Another hallmark of the Clinton tradecraft is to keep a safe distance from the dirty work while others get soiled. In this case, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was stripped of her duties to preside over the convention. Sanders is right: Schultz should lose her job.”


4. “Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook claimed Sunday that the leaks were part of a Russian effort to help Donald Trump. While the Russians may have hacked the DNC, there is no solid evidence that Moscow is actively trying to aid the Republican presidential candidate. Mook’s attack is brazenly hypocritical, given the fact that Clinton herself exposed U.S. secrets to electronic theft by running an off-the-books email system in violation of administration policy.

5. Which raises two questions nobody can answer: Did a foreign country hack Clinton’s homebrewed server? Did her deleted emails, the thousands unrecovered by the FBI, include any embarrassing information now in the hands of another country? If the answer is yes to either one of those questions, October might come with a surprise.”

Polling over the last year has shown a steady level of disapproval over Clinton’s decision to run work email from home. That level of disapproval increased after FBI Director James Comey’s testimony in Congress this month, in the lead-up to the end of the FBI’s investigation, and Bill Clinton’s foray into Attorney General Lynch’ plane on an Arizona tarmac. This email leak is confirmation, for many voters, that the system indeed is rigged. Instead of stepping back, the Clinton campaign did two things this weekend. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, in an appearance on CNN on Sunday, accused Russia of being behind the WikiLeaks dump:

Robby Mook’s vague accusations, based on the assertions of unnamed experts, is reminiscent of former governor Sarah Palin when she famously announced that she can “see Russia from my house.” Ridiculous as this new tack is by the Clinton campaign, one must consider that it is in line with opinion pieces that started popping up at the end of last week, accusing GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump of being in cahoots with Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. One such piece is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s, “Donald Trump, The Siberian Candidate.” Donald Trump’s negatives, as a candidate, are well-established and plentiful. Is it really necessary and wise to portray him, essentially, as a traitor? Who is behind these reports about Trump and Putin? Why?

During the first quarter of 2016, during the height of the primary fight between Clinton and Sanders, there were spates of opinion pieces and articles about Sanders’ Jewish roots and his brand of socialism and Judaism – to the point where I wondered, in several pieces, about the use of racial dog-whistles in this primary. The WikiLeaks dump confirms that this was something the DNC was pursuing with the media. At that same time, during at least two debates, Hillary Clinton made attempts at discrediting Sanders using subtle, yet familiar anti-Semitic dog-whistles. Politico reported that the staffer in question apologized, but no such apology was made to Senator Sanders directly, by anyone. The staffer wrote a note on Facebook that is visible only to his followers.

This is par for the course in a primary year that was full of false accusations and behind the scenes machinations all designed to ensure one candidate emerged victorious, no matter the cost to the party.

In retrospect, when assessing this new DNC email scandal, one must also factor in Hillary Clinton’s long-time association with David Brock. He is the political operative who, in the 1990’s, was most responsible for the discoveries that led to the Lewinsky scandal, among others. Brock eventually came to regret his actions and joined the Clintons as an adviser. He also founded Media Matters for America, through which he has had wide, and likely, undue influence over the mainstream media. In a recent piece, I posted about New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s observations on ethics and the media in this election.

That many well have been Blow’s policy, especially over the past two years as it has been obvious at times, that the media stopped covering certain topics in preparation for this election. The WikiLeaks email dump, for those who are familiar with David Brock, confirms just how much influence he has exerted over the media, through purchases of online outlets (Blue Nation Review is one), and now, perhaps, even planting stories or, at least, controlling the narrative on policy. This has been most obvious in the way economic writers and analysts have been covering unemployment over the past two years, giving the impression that the nation is almost at full employment, but not exploring the quality and nature of the post-Great Recession job market. But not mentioning something doesn’t mean problems don’t exist, or that they aren’t uppermost in readers and voters’ minds.

The Democratic party is now a deeply divided party with disillusioned voters beginning to leave. A search for the hashtag #DemExit reveals the extent of the disillusionment. But DemExit isn’t the extent of the bleeding. Progressive voters are hardly the only ones who are angry. There are other groups who are very disillusioned with the process and the choices Hillary Clinton has made in her partnerships and what they mean in terms of her intent to follow through on campaign promises she made during the primary debates.

Clinton’s disastrous encounters with Black Lives Matter representatives over the past year are still fresh in the memories of younger Black voters and her choice of Tim Kaine as a Vice President is one that is viewed as negative, according to a piece by Reuters, due to his over-enthusiastic implementation of police reforms in the 90’s and his subsequent association, as Virginia governor and after, with pro-incarceration groups. This is in addition to all of the issues I outlined in a previous post.

It will be interesting to see how Senator Sanders approaches his DNC convention speech this week, and how he will both keep his commitment to support the party’s nominee and remain faithful to his followers in the face of revelations that his election might have been thwarted.

Just as interesting will be how the DNC handles explaining to its voters what has just transpired and whether or not it plans to conduct a full investigation into the dealings of its top officials over the past year. Should such an investigation be initiated, who will be entasked with it? Should it decide not to pursue an investigation, how will such a decision affect voters? Will the DNC release all this past year’s email correspondence between its top staff and the media and both campaigns. It should, as speculation as to what else DNC staffers might have done is rising and not addressing it poses grave dangers not only in this electoral cycle, but for the party’s future.

If this election is as do or die as it has been touted, with Supreme Court appointments hanging in the balance, the Clinton campaign and the DNC have some very tough decisions ahead. Continuing to make decisions that so obviously and clearly demonstrate a lack of respect for the public’s collective intelligence will only lead to one outcome: a shellacking in November.

Voter confidence was already at an all-time low before these latest revelations, as it is patently clear that there was no post-mortem after the 2014 election.  The DNC and top Democratic leadership went on about their business as if 2014 never happened. The chickens have now come home and they’re roosting. The electorate has been angry for quite some time and it stems from not having been acknowledged by a party that purports to be its champion.

We’ve spent these recent years talking about the impeding demise of the Republican party and largely ignored the health of the Democratic party. Now, it is very much at-risk. Will Democrats reverse course and finally engage the public in an honest dialogue before it is too late? Please stay tuned to this blog!


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