Decoding Bernie Sanders’ #ArtfulSmear of Hillary Clinton

1) A disinformation campaign, 2) a coordinated attack encompassing social media and liberal news shows, and 3) a preemptive assault accusing Hillary Clinton’s campaign of doing the former is how Bernie Sanders was able to conduct his artful smears.

1.Here is a brief history of the disinformation campaign that Bernie Sanders engaged in, source: Washington Post 02/08/2016

  • Falsely claimed endorsements from newspapers, organizations and unions: He put on misleading ads in Iowa claiming the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, which had in fact endorsed Hillary Clinton and did the same in New Hampshire with the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News. He sent out deceitful mailers with the logos of the League of Conservation Voters, which had endorsed Hillary Clinton, and the AARP, which does not endorse candidates. In Nevada, his campaign staffers misrepresented themselves as Culinary Union members to gain unauthorized access and campaign for Sanders.
  • Furtive about taking money from Wall Street to finance his campaigns: In 2006 Sanders took $200,000 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which was heavily funded by Wall Street. Every year since 2007, Bernie Sanders has hosted retreats for wealthy donors and lobbyists.
  • Used an ad hoc constellation of political action committees, consisting of organizations like National Nurses United, MoveOn and Democracy for America, as well as Progressive Kick and Progressive Democrats of America, both super PACs that allowed unlimited unaccountable monies to be raised — something Bernie Sanders claimed to be against — while insisting that his was an organic grassroots campaign powered by $27 contributions. He hired Tad Devine, an “establishment” consultant who had worked on the Kerry and Gore campaigns to be his top adviser, and he hired most of the professional marketing and fundraising infrastructure that helped elect Obama.

The disinformation campaign also included:

  • Telling his supporters that he still had a viable path to the nomination even though analytic objective sites like FiveThirtyEight wrote as early as March 2, 2016 that Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead was “pretty much insurmountable”.
  • Questioning the integrity of the voting process, which had him suing states like Ohio, Nevada, and California and making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and voter suppression whenever he lost an election.
  • Attacking the Democratic Party’s nominating system as “rigged” although Hillary Clinton lost in 2008 under that same system and the evidence is overwhelming that more Democrats want her to be the nominee. He also made wholly irrational demands like making all primaries open to bizarrely give independents and Republicans more weight to choose the Democratic party nominee, and scrapping the superdelegate system, which is the fail-safe that allows Democrats to prevent a catastrophic candidate like Donald Trump from becoming the nominee.
  • Claiming to be a Democrat, when he even admitted to only running as a Democrat to get media coverage and filed as an Independent for the 2018 Vermont election.

Bernie Sanders was able to spread this disinformation by far outspending any other presidential campaign, to the tune of $166 million by the end of March 2016, routinely spending three times more on ads than Hillary Clinton. And Bernie Sanders engaged in the tactics of manipulation, deceptive advertisement and smears of his opponents well before he ran against Hillary Clinton. It appears that the whole Bernie Sanders shtick is to have him say that he will run a positive campaign, make him appear noble and allow him to claim ignorace of the sleaze done in his name, while his team throws everything they can at his opponent, including outright lies, running attack ads then saying they were miscommunication mistakes, and in the case of Hillary Clinton, slinging decades old debunked “scandals” straight from the right-wing conspiracy files. You really didn’t think that it was just a coincidence that the “progressive” left-wing of the Democratic party, made up of mostly millennials, was suddenly obsessed with the very attacks about Whitewater and Vince Foster that the Republicans lobbed against the Clinton’s thirty years ago, did you?

2. Here is one example of a coordinated attack involving social media and the cable network MSNBC, source: OpenSecrets.org

Federal Election Commission data reveals that Maverick Strategies & Mail was paid $1,342,293 by the Bernie Sanders campaign. The co-founder (along with Steve Jarding and Jessica Vanden Berg) of this political consulting firm focusing on strategic messaging and voter contact is Kristian Denny Todd, wife of Chuck Todd, television journalist and host of Meet the Press on MSNBC.

Yet, Chuck Todd did not disclose this when he moderated a debate and a town hall where he introduced and fanned the flames of a new scandal for Hillary Clinton: releasing the transcripts of speeches she made as a private citizen. This new attack on her character and integrity led to a coordinated social media blitz, e.g. #ReleaseTheTranscripts that is still running strong today even though Bernie Sanders has no viable path to the nomination, being over 3 million votes behind, 270 pledged delegates behind, and 498 super delegates behind as of May 30, according to the AP and RealClearPolitics.

It is a strange coincidence indeed that an underhanded defamatory attack from Bernie Sanders on Hillary Clinton, with no evidence whatsoever that she ever changed a view or a vote after receiving a fee or donation, gets propagated by Chuck Todd — whose wife worked for the Sanders campaign. How interesting that it was Chuck Todd who first brought up the possibility of having Hillary Clinton release all transcripts of her intellectual property during the Democratic presidential debate held Thursday, February 4 in New Hampshire:

“But, let’s make that bigger. Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid speeches? We do know through reporting that there were transcription services for all of those paid speeches”

And how interesting that it was Chuck Todd who two weeks later, on February 18, moderated a town hall in Nevada where he chose a smug-faced Bernie Sanders organizer, Joe Sacco, now a delegate, to ask Hillary Clinton again to #ReleaseTheTranscripts.

“Why are you hesitant to release transcripts, or audio-video recordings of those meetings in order to be transparent”

Seriously, if you, a regular voter, had the chance to ask a leading presidential candidate a question, would you ask them to reveal everything that was said in meetings they attended in the past, or would you ask them about their proposals, their beliefs, their goals? And we, the audience, are supposed to believe that it is just a coincidence that a “regular joe” is demanding speech transcripts of private meetings – something that no one in the history of the world has ever asked a presidential candidate to do –while ignoring that it so perfectly parrots an attack from her leading opponent?

By the way, this is the same Joe Sacco who was ready with a sexist picture of him punching Hillary Clinton that advertised a website: http://iwilllookintoit.com owned by Jed McChesney of Kansas and officially promoted by the @BernieSanders twitter account on February 18.

And of course there was an #IWillLookIntoIt hashtag making the rounds. It is pretty darn coincidental that all of this was ready to go on February 18 and that Chuck Todd conveniently launched it, that his wife’s company specializes in “information” delivery through social media, that they financially profited from the Bernie Sanders campaign, and that this same campaign was ready to draw immediate maximum impact from demonizing her speeches. How would a “strategic messaging” company charged with “executing a grass roots campaign” and paid over a million dollars to do so go about it?

That Chuck Todd had an obvious conflict of interest is without question, and the fact that he did not recuse himself or at least reveal it is clearly unethical. More people should be asking what he knew about his wife’s company’s Bernie Sanders strategy, and when he knew it.

Meanwhile, this unrelenting #ReleaseTheTranscripts offensive has been used by the Bernie Sanders campaign and its supporters in the media nonstop to insinuate that Hillary Clinton is corrupt. Lost in the eagerness of media outlets like MSNBC to bolster Bernie Sanders are some facts:

  • There is no evidence that she was influenced to vote or advocate for or against anything because of fees she received. No evidence.
  • Hillary Clinton made those speeches as a private citizen and earned the fair market price as a luminary: Former First Lady, Senator from New York, Former Secretary of State. In what world has she not earned the right to be paid for sharing her expertise?
  • These speeches are her intellectual property and she has the right to ownership. Why would anyone in the United States support a society where someone’s property can be easily taken from them, where there is no right to privacy, where there is no right to free association, and no right to free speech? Bernie Sanders is a communist, but why is the media advocating such an un-American stripping of fundamental rights?
  • There is a component about the drummed up outrage stemming from Hillary Clinton receiving payment for her speeches that carries the vile stench of sexism. Why would anyone believe that she is not worth her speaking fees, given her experience working in government, in crafting policy and in foreign affairs? It is an insidious charge, particulary when her speaking fees are comparable or much lower than men like former Fed Chairman Ben Bernake, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and even reality tv star Donald Trump.

Anyone with any interest in listening to Hillary Clinton speeches can easily find them on the web. Here she is speaking on September 23, 2014 at an event hosted by Goldman Sachs. Here she is speaking at the UN in China on September 5, 1995. Here she is announcing her presidential campaign on June 13, 2015. Through these speeches you can see for yourself that former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly an intelligent, informed and caring public servant that has always worked hard to do all the good she can, for as many people as she can.

The truth is that Hillary Clinton has been the most honest and the most transparent candidate running for President. It is Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump who have NOT released their tax returns, while Hillary Clinton has released three decades worth. It is Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump who are under investigation for fraud. Bernie Sanders has committed multiple FEC violations and he and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, have been implicated in a loan fraud that precipitated the closing of Burlington College in Vermont. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is facing a fraud lawsuit regarding his involvement in Trump University.

But for months Hillary Clinton has been made to respond to baseless attacks on her integrity while her plans for the economy, for equality in pay, for reducing gun violence, for improving health care are all but ignored.

3. The third step in the #ArtfulSmear onslaught brought about by the Bernie Sanders campaign is simply classic psychological projection, where you unjustly accuse others of doing something that you are in fact doing, while denying that you are doing it. The first big example of this came in December 2015, when the Bernie Sanders campaign willfully stole large portions of Hillary Clinton’s voter data and then had the audacity to insinuate that the Hillary Clinton campaign took theirs. Here is Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver during a press conference on Friday December 25 after filing a law suit against the Democratic National Committee:

“We were very concerned that large amounts of our own data was being downloaded and we contacted the DNC to remedy the situation”

Another example of projection is the standard attack most Hillary Clinton supporters have had lobbed against them: that they only support Hillary because they are paid $hills. But the example above of Chuck Todd is what a real paid shill looks like, not to mention the fact that the Bernie Sanders campaign invested heavily in social media marketing, paying Revolution Messaging $23,474,979, whose CEO Scott Goldstein said:

“Social media is intertwined into every department of the campaign […] Press and communications are in constant coordination with our social media person.”
“Since July, Revolution Messaging has been tasked with overseeing social media, online fundraising, web design and digital advertising for Sanders, sending a steady stream of text messages, emails and issue-based ads urging supporters to donate or volunteer. The team also nurtures and helps grow the communities on Sanders’s already popular Facebook and Reddit pages.”

The Bernie Sanders campaign also paid “six-figures to take over Twitter’s top trending topic”, giving the illusion that his was a grass roots campaign, as did the well-planned “massive rallies” that were filled with the same people. Given the social media dominance generated by the Bernie Sanders campaign as early as November 2015, it is far more likely that Bernie Sanders’ “supporters” on social media were paid, as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s. The propitious demise of the r/politics subreddit, where all positive Hillary Clinton articles were removed and the posters summarily banned, while all positive Bernie Sanders articles were exponentially up-voted, thus influencing Google search results, is another clear indication of a coordinated social media disinformation campaign.

But let us get to the real hypocrisy, and that is that Bernie Sanders ran as a pure candidate that was: 1) untethered by special interests, 2) un-besmirched by money in politics, 3) of thorough sound judgement, 4) caring of Latino, African American, LGBT communities, 5) not a communist.

And yet it was Bernie Sanders who:

  1. Was elected with help from the Gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, and voted against background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases, as well as voting five times against the Brady Bill, and even voting to strip funding for gun research.
  2. Supported the military-industrial complex because they manufacture weapons in Vermont, like the incredibly wasteful $1.2 trillion F-35 stealth fighter jet program, as well as the Kosovo war and the war in Afghanistan.
  3. Was unable to answer questions about foreign and domestic policy, including his signature propositon to break up the banks. His intellectually dishonest rants against Wall Street and corporations fail to acknowledge that anyone can buy stocks in any public company and create wealth for themselves through investments.
  4. Committed environmental racism when he co-sponsored a bill to send nuclear waste from Vermont and Maine to be dumped on a poor Latino community in Sierra Blanca, Texas. And the Sanders were still financially profiting from this deal in 2014. Bernie Sanders also voted to support the Minutemen Project, an armed hate group that targets migrant refugees along the Mexico border and voted against progressive immigration reform. Bernie Sanders’ Vermont has one of the highest rates of incarcaration of African Americans, who only make up 1.2% of the population, but 10.7% of its prison population. He also voted FOR the 1994 crime bill, bizarrely attacking Hillary Clinton for it even though she was the First Lady at the time, and boasted in 2006 that he was tough on crime, the same year he also opposed marriage equality. More recently, after Bernie Sanders mischaracterized a meeting with AIDS activists, his campaign, led by his Senior Policy Director Warren Gunnels, attacked a long-time LGBT activist, Peter Staley, as a paid shill of “Big Pharma”.
  5. Has repeatedly revealed that he is a communist: There is video showing him praising communist dictator Fidel Castro, as well as bread lines and food rationing. He is a Stalinist who in 1989 addressed the national conference of the U.S. Peace Council, a front for the Communist Party USA, whose members support “the triumph of Soviet Power in the U.S.” This was a year after he and his second wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, traveled to the USSR for their honeymoon. Bernie Sanders also supported the silencing of journalists in Nicaragua, through mass arrests and shuttering of newspapers, because he supported the Soviet-funded, Cuban-trained Sandinista regime of President Daniel Ortega.

But instead of #VettingBernie, the cable “journalists” have been busy attacking Hillary Clinton for the audacity to give speeches and get paid for them, all the while ignoring Bernie Sanders’ whacko past, like his disastrous tenure as chairman of the Veteran Affairs committee in 2014, during the height of the VA scandal when veterans died waiting to get appointments to see doctors. There is also the matter that the Bernie Sanders campaign pushed single-payer health care, knowing full well that it failed in his home-state of Vermont. This is a man so out of touch with functioning economies that he has praised countries like Venezuela, where the socialist utopia of Hugo Chavez has led to it to become one of the worst countries in the world to do business — a place where people stand in long lines just to buy basic necessities. Oh, and then there was the time he wrote that:

“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

And the anti-science views he has on health care, as when he professed that sexual repression causes cancer and that federal employees should be reimbursed for massage therapist and acupuncturist visits. Note also that Bernie Sanders has repeatedly suggested that “women’s issues” are a distraction. As well as the fact that Bernie Sanders voted against the Amber Alert system, which warns the public of the kidnapping of a child. This is the same man that wrote of being titillated by the rape of children:

“Do you know why the newspaper with the articles like ‘Girl 12 raped by 14 men’ sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?”

From underhanded tactics, to outright lies, from smear campaigns to crazy accusations and threats of violence, in addition to completely lacking in any workable policy proposals, Bernie Sanders has plainly demonstrated that he is not in any way shape or form qualified to be Senator of Vermont, let alone a serious candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, and certainly not a candidate for President of the United States.

Instead of informing the public about the policy differences and similarities of the presidential candidates, instead of giving in-depth analysis of laws, their intended and unintended consequences, and who stands to benefit and who loses out, these media personalities have proliferated false narratives about “momentum” and phony scandals. And still she rises.

But what a shame that as they were promoting Bernie Sanders, they were also promoting Donald Trump, another sexist, racist, media abuser. The system is obviously broken when thoroughly unqualified men like these can manipulate the news cycle and get the media to propagate far and wide, and unfiltered, utterly baseless accusations and personal attacks. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have found that they can say anything, do anything, and the media machine laps it up, untethered and unbound by any journalistic ethics. And still she rises.

Those in the media who profited from trying to take Hillary Clinton down clearly did a disservice to the American public. And yet, despite all the attacks, the rumors and innuendo, the sleazy slurs with the misogynistic underpinnings — she rises.

Hillary Clinton, the person who led the fight for universal healthcare in the 1990s; Hillary Clinton who helped create the Children’s Health Insurance Program; Hillary Clinton who helped advance the Adoption and Safe Families Act; Hillary Clinton who fought for equal pay with the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Hillary Clinton who negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas; Hillary Clinton who is credited with bringing peace to Ireland, this Hillary Clinton, the most qualified person to ever run for President of the United States, rises.

It is as poet Maya Angelou wrote, Hillary Clinton means to rise, and we will all rise with her. That is why #ImWithHer.