DNC Emails and Journalism.

At this point my article on Hillary Clinton has been read four times as much as every other item on my blog combined. Which is baffling to me, because you’re saying the the original Star Trek series can’t drive as much traffic as a polemic on a controversial public figure??

So I’ve dealt with the crippling anxiety of so much traffic and attention, and fortunately have only had to delete one troll comment. But with the DNC emails being released shortly after this article started making the rounds, I can just feel the ire of people in certain comment sections, wondering how I dared leave that out. So here it is.

In short, I think much of what was leaked in the emails denotes unprofessional conduct. I think that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has bungled this whole thing, and I’m simultaneously glad that she’s gone and frustrated that she has a place in the Clinton campaign now. I’m sorry, Madame Secretary, but you have to throw your old friend under the bus here.

I’m an avowed Socialist here. Bernie Sanders wants to break up the big banks? What a wimp! I think we should nationalize the entire financial sector. Yet I vote Democrat in Presidential elections, because I recognize that with our flawed first past the post system, I need to compromise my views in order to get some of the things that I want, and a conservative led return to outright Social Darwinism is one of the most terrifying prospects to me.

So I think that doing my small part to push the Democrats to the left is worth it. That’s what Bernie set out to do with this election. Well here’s how he started. With the entire leadership of the Party in the room, he publicly explained to them in exquisite detail why they were all incompetent.

Now honestly, he wasn’t wrong with what he said. The DNC is a largely complacent organization that has no eye for optics or good PR. Hell, take a look at the Convention. Clinton really needs to change her “Im with Her” slogan into “She’s with Us.” Because if the slander is that she’s a disinterested plutocrat, asking that people devote their allegiance to her is not going to play well. But declaring that she stands in solidarity with her supporters is what’s going to garner votes. But I digress.

So Bernie stands in a room with the DNC leadership and dresses them down in front of the TV cameras. Hey wow it turns out when you poke someone in the eye the minute after they let you in the front door they won’t like you. Was he wrong in his assessment? No. Was it smart? Not at all. You can say, “I can generate enthusiasm” without explicitly and publicly saying, “you do it really badly.” Politics is being diplomatic.

As a protest candidate at this point, I think this was an entirely needed message. But as he would later gain traction and actually have a shot of winning the Primary, this would ultimately poison the attitudes of the establishment against him. It wasn’t his language about Wall Street corruption that did it; it was the fact that he directly called them incompetent.

So now we get to the point where she “stole the election.” Well, vote rigging is never discussed in the emails. The DNC doesn’t actually control the physical infrastructure of voting. Those are run by state governments. They don’t do the vote counting. Those are state governments. The DNC doesn’t have the sheer financial capacity to bribe millions of voters. To quote a friend,

The idea that she masterminded wide-scale election fraud to defeat an opponent who never once polled ahead of her? I’m sorry, it seems thin. I get that it’s more satisfying to say you were cheated than to say you were out-voted, but the circumstances don’t support it… This family couldn’t cover up a blowjob, people.

Simply put, Clinton won because more voters wanted her to be the nominee.

Now I myself have never been a part of massive collusion to rig an election, but personally, I’d imagine that there would be more than a few dozen emails in 19,000 that indicated it.

Indeed, the emails in question only go back as far as April. Personally speaking, at that point I had seen the numbers, and when I voted in California, I had decided that I wanted to give who I thought would be the eventual nominee the strongest hand that I could going into the general election.

So we have some evidence of organizational bias. Should it be surprising? Not really. From a Reddit user:

People who have just now engaged in politics (or 6 months ago or whatever) don’t really know how Washington works, and watching The West Wing or House of Cards doesn’t give them a PhD in the subject either.

For many political agents (not just candidates), their career starts early, sometimes as early as high school with things like Boys and Girls State, opportunities to work in State government through school, and maybe volunteering with local and state campaigns. They then go on to college and become Congressional interns, national campaign interns, etc. At that point, they can join think tanks, further their campaign credentials, do academic political studies, run for office themselves, or become Congressional aides. Some will return to their states and run for local offices, working up to the legislature and then maybe make a run for Congress. They know how politics works. They know how a bill becomes a law. They know about backroom deals, golf course conversations, lobbyists and constituent groups. They know how difficult it is to cut a deal where people get everything they want. They also know what they are up against in terms of helping or changing anything.

Now, people are starting to shine a real light on the nomination process and they don’t like it. But hey, that’s the system. I’m not defending the system, but that’s what it is. If you want to appoint someone to a federal agency, you need a short list and that short list comes from (surprise, surprise) people you know. You probably know people because they’ve supported your campaign, maybe for years. Is it “payback”? Of a sort, sure, but as you said, it doesn’t mean the person isn’t necessarily really good for the job.

Realistically speaking, there’s not really any other way they can compile a list of possible people. It’s certainly the case that political appointments go to movers and shakers in that field and those people are likely to be involved in politics at least passively. You don’t pick a new Sec. of Interior from a group of disaffected 20-somethings hanging out at the local coffee shop.

Now there was one email asking about religion that I’ve seen people making a lot of hay over. It’s unsavory, and as a lifelong atheist, I hate the outsized role that religion plays in public life, acting as an unofficial litmus test for office. But I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone actually ever ran with this.

So thus far the worst thing that can be said about these emails is that the DNC started preparing for the general election while the race was going on, assuming that Sanders could not overcome his deficit in delegates.

This correlates with things like Debates being scheduled on the weekends, which Sanders supporters say indicate bias against him. Now I don’t know what all of you do with your time, but I watched the first Democratic Debate, and that was it. I read transcripts of the other ones because I read much faster than people talk. Most people who watch boring, technocratic television like a two hour discussion between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the minimum wage is bound to be have likely already made up their minds. So with things like the debate scheduling, people correlate things happening that they don’t like with each other. They then imply causation, that some grand conspiracy had taken place.

Now I’m curious to see the emails in, say, January had said. And chances are Wikileaks will strike again. So we’ll see how the Debates and such were being discussed internally in the DNC at the beginning of the year. If suppression was actually being discussed, I’ll be grabbing my pitchfork too.

Here’s where I’m going to talk a little bit about the media.

One of the worst things that happened in this campaign season was the Associated Press declaring that Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee the night before California voted. Having a presumptive winner declared can have a profoundly chilling effect on an election. That’s why many countries enforce or have a tradition of Election Silence in the days before an election.

Yet this doesn’t indicate that the AP was in the bag for Clinton. News outlets are engaged in a perpetual arms race to break a big news story, and draw traffic to themselves. A major story like this is bound to draw clicks. So the AP calling the election is more indicative of other systemic problems in the election than explicit bias.

So lets clarify for all the conspiracy theorists out there.

Hillary Clinton has had a historically terrible relationship with the American press.

Hillary Clinton received, by percentage, more negative coverage and less positive coverage than Bernie Sanders.

But even given that, I want to take a moment and, in spite of its problems, defend the mainstream media. I was accused of being “brainwashed” the other day, so let me say why large publications are important.

There are serious standards in place in a publication like the New York Times. Nothing meets a readers eyeball without being independently vetted by at least one editor. More than that, facts and assertions are verified as much as possible, and if there are differing claims about what occurred, both sides of the argument are often presented.

In the case of falsification, there are serious consequences. Just ask Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair how their careers are doing. Conversely, there are significant career inducements for taking down big politicians like Hillary Clinton or organizations like the DNC.

Now there are systemic flaws. Look at how uncritical the media was of the Bush administration’s case for war leading up to Iraq. It’s not a perfect system, and having enabled Donald Trump, those flaws are worth examining.

But lets compare it with some of the alternate media sources that are being thrown around. When I post on Facebook, or on this private blog, I only have the feedback from my friends to rely upon. There are no professional standards that ensure what I’m writing is being fact checked. And if I turn out to be profoundly full of shit, there are no serious consequences for my life and livelihood.

I’ve seen a lot of skepticism of mainstream media sources in recent days, but instead of qualitative criticisms, it instead seems to be anger that fact checking and editorial review tends to deflate a whole lot of Internet rumors.

All right, so I’m publishing this without even really copy editing it, letting alone sending it out to some of my trusted friends for review. On the subject of the DNC emails, the jury is still out for me, so I’m interested in seeing some varying opinions on the subject.

Here’s something that I thought was important to this argument two days ago… but I don’t remember exactly why.

  • True, true, true: “You don’t pick a new Sec. of Interior from a group of disaffected 20-somethings hanging out at the local coffee shop.”

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