Did the New York Daily News Tip Off the Hillary For America campaign about its Interview with Bernie Sanders?
On the morning of Tuesday, April 5, the media had been buzzing about an interview between Bernie Sanders and the New York Daily News editorial board, which had taken place on Friday, April 1, and published in the late afternoon of Monday, April 4. The buzz, like most media coverage of Sanders at the time, was overwhelmingly condescending and negative— with headlines that the interview was “pretty close to a disaster” for the Sanders campaign — though I couldn’t help but wonder how Sanders’s reticence to discuss the powers of the Federal Reserve (which has been a topic of debate since the Fed’s inception over a hundred years ago; I digress) in breaking up the big banks amounted to such a disaster.
That said, as someone who is aware of the fact that there are, uh, numerous complexities in the operational structures of the banking behemoths — such that separating consumer banking, investment banking, and asset management into neat compartments can’t exactly be so easily conveyed in a single soundbite— I figured that in light of the distorted coverage, this interview could benefit from some critical analysis via Genius’s Web Annotator.
To my surprise, at least 15 others had beat me to it. Strangely, all of their accounts had been created within the past 24 hours and their annotations were almost entirely caustic in tone and uninformed. My immediate reaction was that this must be the work of “Correct the Record,” David Brock’s SuperPAC / internet army of Clinton supporters (or, according to Clinton surrogate Paul Begala, “nerd virgins”).
So it would seem: the ringleader, a user named Shoq — irl: Matthew Edelstein — had previously worked for Brock’s Media Matters. In fact, as I later learned, Edelstein has been working for Hillary for America this election season.
Indeed, Brock’s army of internet supporters coordinating with a campaign is technically kosher, so they say. But what about an independent newspaper coordinating with a campaign?
On Monday, April 4, at 2:55 PM (EST), one hour and twenty two minutes before the transcript of the interview was published by the Daily News on its site (at 4:17 PM), Edelstein posted on Twitter,
Shortly after the interview transcript was published and then posted on Twitter by a number of Daily News editors, Edelstein promoted his annotations of the interview over a dozen times that afternoon and evening to his 21.2k followers, encouraging them to annotate along with him (one of whom is a field organizer for the Florida Democratic Party).
Other tweets were directed at campaign surrogates including Tom Watson and Peter Daou, political action committees including Correct the Record, campaign publications including Blue Nation Review, and various supporters (/surrogates?) in the media.
Later that evening, Alyssa Katz, the first Daily News editor to have promoted the transcript on Twitter earlier that day — and who had no account on Genius before this — promoted the annotated version (strangely, without pointing out that the annotations can only be viewed with either the genius.it prefix in the url or the Chrome extension) in a retweet of New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum (which, as indicated below, has since been deleted). (Nussbaum is responsible for having popularized the infamous “Bernie Bro” meme, which it later turned out was on account of having mistaken a troll account based on a Dukes of Hazard character for a Sanders supporter.)
Katz declined to comment on how she heard of Genius. Her Genius account shows no activity, and as far as I’m aware she hasn’t mentioned Genius (on Twitter at least) since.
Edelstein could not be reached for comment, so it remains a mystery how he — employed by the Hillary for America campaign — knew about the interview transcript before it was published (or, in case I’m missing something, if there was another “surprise” that afternoon that he had planned for #imwithher followers).