Emails Posted By Wikileaks Reveal Democratic National Committee Actively Worked Against Bernie Sanders
Emails posted online by Wikileaks reveal a hidden media war between the Democratic National Committee and the Bernie Sanders campaign. The refusal of party officials to address criticism with maturity serves to demonstrate the realities of the “rigged” electoral system.
In the early morning hours of May 21st, 2016, DNC Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach wrote to Communications Director Luis Miranda, vapidly pondering the following: “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.”
“…the Chair has been advised to not engage”, reads the reply. “So we’ll have to leave it alone.”
If it should seem odd that Democratic Party officials would actively conspire against a primary candidate, you probably believed Party Chair Debbie Wassman Schultz’s statement in response to the Nevada fiasco: “The Democratic National Committee remains neutral in this primary, based on our rules.”
The hypocrisy of this denial is apparent to anyone studious enough to wade through the 20,000 leaked emails. Most of them come in the form of replies to news articles—with long discussions about press and public relations dominating the sea of RE:s and FW:s. It is in those media discussions that the bias against Sanders, and toward Clinton, is most apparent.
“If Bridgette wants it, well the (sic) gosh darnit #ImWithHer”, writes Pablo Manriquez, Broadcast Media Director, in response to a Hillary Clinton press release. “Should we just parrot Hillary’s message? My gut says we should.”
“In this, of all emails,” writes Luis Miranda, in response to a Clinton campaign donation email, “did they really need to use ‘steel ourselves’?!”
Promoting candidates is one of the committee’s functions. But favoring one candidate over another, in the midst of a heated primary race, is against the rules—if you believe Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Had the committee promoted Sanders and Clinton equally, there would be no damning evidence that party officials broke their vow of neutrality. But that simply isn’t the case.
“He isn’t going to be president.” Schultz wrote in May.
“It might may (sic) no difference,” writes CFO Brad Marshall, in an email titled No shit, “but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
A reply from CEO Amy Dacey read simply: “AMEN.”
Marshall has since reached out to The Intercept, denying the email was about Sanders, and insinuating it was about a surrogate. Contributor Sam Biddle notes that Sanders was the only Jewish candidate running. Marshall has thus far not responded to inquiries about who the elusive surrogate might be—but targeting any person affiliated with a Democratic Party candidate for president on the basis of their religion, or lack thereof, is yet another example of the DNC’s moral vacuity and profound lack of professionalism. Is this or is this not a political party which abhors prejudice and discrimination?
On the subject of ethics, chief investigative reporter at Politico Kenneth P. Vogel apparently sent Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach a draft of his story, Clinton fundraising leaves little for state parties, ahead of time—before sending it to his editors. Paustenbach explains why:
Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it. Let me know if you see anything that’s missing and I’ll push back.
An email dated May 20th, 2016, provides more evidence of party officials working directly with journalists to plant subtle anti-Sanders narratives. “Phil Elliott is doing a lengthy cover story for next week’s issue of TIME on the Sanders phenomenon, which he needs to finish by mid-day Tuesday”, writes Paustenbach again. “He wants to interview the Chair in person or over the phone before then. Phil would need at least part of the interview to be on-the-record and the rest can be on background. As he said, we’d be mad if they did a story on the soul/direction of the party and decided not to talk to her. The piece will tee up nicely the California primary.”
Listing the proposed key points of Elliott’s article, Paustenbach notes:
“The culmination of this election is about what the soul of the Democratic Party looks like. Deliberate, policy driven and results-oriented or more liberal, pie-in-the-sky?”
Another email reads:
“The Confessore story on Bernie’s impact on the Party beyond his electoral prospects is out. Overall I think it’s as good as we could hope for. We were able to keep him from including more on the JVF, it has a mention in there, but between us and a conversation he had with Marc Elias he finally backed off from focusing too much on that. Longabaugh also strikes a somewhat conciliatory tone described here as saying : he believed the campaign would ultimately be well represented on all the committees as more members are named.”
As criticism against the DNC mounted, party officials reacted defensively. Below is the full text of Paustenbach’s email to Luis Miranda, mentioned at the outset:
To: [email protected] Date: 2016-05-21 22:23
Subject: Bernie narrative
Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess. Specifically, DWS had to call Bernie directly in order to get the campaign to do things because they’d either ignored or forgotten to something critical.
She had to call Bernie after the data breach to make his staff to respond to our concerns. Even then they didn’t get back to us, which is why we had to shut off their access in order to get them to finally let us know exactly how they snooped around HFA’s data. Same was true with the standing committee appointments. They never got back to us with their names (HFA and even O’Malley got there’s in six weeks earlier) for the committees.
So, again, the chair had to call Bernie personally for his staff to finally get us critical information. So, they gave us an awful list just a few days before we had to make the announcements. It’s not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together.
It is well within Schulz’s ethical dictum for party officials to complain about the Sanders campaign or dismiss criticism (though the former action lends itself to the terribly awkward notion that the Democratic Party isn’t as enlightened as it pretends to be). But the repeated pontification over ways to damage the Sanders campaign proves the committee was unable to separate reactionary criticism from appallingly blatant insider favoritism.
One has to respect Luis Miranda for shutting Paustenbach down—or at least respect whomever advised Schultz to disengage from the argument and reaffirm the Party’s commitment to neutrality.
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That the Democratic National Committee is unwilling to accept criticism from a populist movement is the Party’s greatest shame. Over the hours I spent pouring through the emails, I encountered scant ideological discussion, or even serious conversation about addressing what ills the Democrats. What I found instead are reams of PR concerns. The Democratic Party, as an institution, must appear perfect—the supposed party of the people is terrifyingly dogmatic.
“Morning Joe today was ridiculous calling it a rigged system for the first half hour”, writes Luis Miranda. Another email suggests taking cues from the Republicans:
“My suggestion is that the DNC put out a statement saying that the accusations the Sanders campaign are not true. The fact that CNN notes that you aren’t getting between the two campaigns is the problem. Here, Sanders is attacking the DNC and its current practice, its past practice with the POTUS and with Sec Kerry. Just as the RNC pushes back directly on Trump over ‘rigged system’, the DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful the the Democratic party.”
Harmful to the Democratic Party. And here I was thinking rhetorical criticism was an inalienable facet of the Liberal values the Democratic Party pretends to represent. The Democrats will never serve as a megaphone for the vox populi, or as protector of minority voices, or as a party committed to the unfettered practice of democracy, if they continue their shameless pageantry at the expense of improving themselves.
But one is led to the inescapable conclusion that the committee is disinterested in their own purported ideology. Their job is to get Democrats elected—but under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schulz, they’ve evidently taken it upon themselves to decide which ponies to trot in front of the roaring crowd, and which ones would be more useful as glue.