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If History Has Taught Us Anything, It’s That Clinton Scandals Proceed Based Only On Objective Evidence of Serious Misconduct

[ 196 ] February 25, 2017 |

clinton benghazi

I decided to invest some time in Keith Gessen’s widely discussed Putin essay, some of which is useful and some of which is strawman burning (who, exactly, thinks that deploying ratfucking principles Don Segretti had probably mastered before he left elementary school makes Vladimir Putin some kind of omnipotent SUPERGENIUS?) But it’s hard for me to get beyond the argument boldfaced below, and I’m equally amazed to see other people parroting it:

There is no reason at this point to dispute the consensus view of most intelligence analysts that Russian agents hacked the DNC and then leaked the emails to Julian Assange; it is also a well-known fact that Putin hated Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, it is true that the election was very close, and it did not take much to tip the result to one side. But it is also essential to remember that there was hardly anything damaging in the leaked DNC emails.

It is true that the Wikileaks DNC leaks revealed nothing remotely resembling substantial misconduct by Hillary Clinton and indeed nothing even of much interest to anyone with a basic familiarity with how politics works. (It is amusing to see Gessen’s essay getting such high praise from people who tried to hype up inane trivia from the DNC leaks as if they had just uncovered Watergate, but moving right along.) But what is genuinely astounding is that anyone could argue at this late date that if a Clinton scandal ultimately didn’t have any real content it therefore couldn’t have been politically damaging.

In the next graf, Gessen adduces “the 25-year rightwing war on the Clintons” as a variable that affected the election, and true enough although I think this common formulation obscures the role that mainstream media outlets (with the New York Times at the front of the line) have played in this. But, to state the obvious, from Whitewater to EMAILS! “scandals” that turn out to consist of nothing have always been the chief weapons deployed in this war. Trump knew what he was doing when he mentioned the leaks constantly — whether there was anything objectively important revealed by them is completely beside the point. After all, Gessen recognizes the importance of the Comey letter, but this also involved no actual information about a microscandal nobody would have cared about if it involved anybody but Hillary Clinton.

It’s impossible to know with any precision what role the DNC hacks played in the outcome of the election. I’m more inclined to focus on Comey because the nature of his interventions make it easier to isolate the effects, and the evidence that they changed the outcome of the election is overwhelming. But the Comey letter didn’t occur in a vacuum; it mattered because a deep foundation of EMAILS! hysteria had already been laid, and the Wikileaks drip helped keep the Jason Chaffetz’s party going — and, indeed, I’m sure many voters just conflated the DNC leaks with the general EMAILS! pseudo-scandal. It would be wrong to blame Russia and Russia alone for Trump winning, although I don’t know who’s doing that. (Gessen cites but does not link to a “report” attributing this view to “Clinton and her campaign”; I’ll believe it when I actually see it.) But to assert that because the DNC leaks were ultimately about nothing they couldn’t have hurt Clinton’s campaign couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

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  1. McAllen says:

    I continue to think that if you asked Trump voters what specifically they think Clinton did wrong relating to emails, 75% wouldn’t be able to tell you.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I think if you ask most of the reporters and editors who wrote endless numbers of stories about it what exactly she did that was wrong they wouldn’t be able to tell you.

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        what are we going to do about it, though? I mean, there will be a time when another D candidate gets obviously and totally jobbed by the media and there- even with the election of fricken trump as an example of the consequences- will still be a fairly noisy contingent of (chose one or all) liberals/leftists/centrists who will feel said D has gored their oxen and will play along with the fix out of a mixture of principle and spite

        • humanoid.panda says:

          Pretty much the only fix is to pick a candidate that the media likes. Which sucks, but there it is.

          • Nobdy says:

            The media didn’t like Bill Clinton, but he had enough charisma that it didn’t matter. The media also didn’t like Trump, but he fired up a certain base.

            Treat a popularity contest like a popularity contest. Every presidential candidate should be telegenic and slick.

            And tall.

            • humanoid.panda says:

              The media didn’t like Bill Clinton, but he had enough charisma that it didn’t matter. The media also didn’t like Trump, but he fired up a certain base.

              Your definition of media is super-narrow. Sure, serious centrist columinists didn’t like him. But late night talk show hosts did!

              • Nobdy says:

                That’s because he was charismatic and entertaining. Late night talk show hosts, for the most part, did not like Trump (I know Jimmy Fallon mussed his hair, and that WAS bullshit, but most of the rest of them went after him) but that didn’t matter.

                And it’s not like Arsenio endorsed Clinton per se, he let Clinton come on and Clinton was charismatic and fun and approachable. I think that’s charisma more than “media likability.”

                And it wasn’t just centrist columnists that went after Bill. He got the full Clinton from the nation’s newspapers with Whitewater and Vince Foster and all the rest of it. But then he went on TV, stuck out his thumb and said “I feel your pain” and it was enough.

                Hillary didn’t have that ability (partially due to sexism.) All she could do was come up with some dumb plan to actually alleviate people’s suffering and stick it on a webpage. BORING. I like when Trump says he’s going to build a walls. I understand walls!

                • TVTray says:

                  That’s politics baby!

                • humanoid.panda says:

                  And it’s not like Arsenio endorsed Clinton per se, he let Clinton come on and Clinton was charismatic and fun and approachable. I think that’s charisma more than “media likability.”

                  I think that we might be arguing semantics here: I think that “charisma” is not an innate feature, but a function of how the media treats you.

                  Where are I agree with you: HRC is, according to all reports, an introvert, and Bill isn’t. That makes a lot of difference.

              • Derelict says:

                Yeah, those late-night talk show hosts loved Clinton. Jay Leno loved Clinton so much that he was telling Bill Clinton bimbo jokes right up until his last episode of the Tonight Show.

                The Clinton Rules are so well established that non-scandals (“OMG! The Clintons run an international charitable organization, and it deals with foreign countries!!!“) get large and continuous headlines, while actual criminal wrongdoing by someone like Trump (“Trump Uses Trump Foundation Funds to Buy Art, Pay Legal Fees”) gets glossed over and, ultimately, flushed down the memory hole.

            • Thom says:

              “And tall.”

              But see: Robert Kennedy.

            • kped says:

              I don’t know that you can just say “the media didn’t like Trump”. Throughout the campaign, they gave him special attention that no other candidate got. CNN waiting breathlessly for each rally speech, even having an empty podium for half an hour as they waited. So while they may have been “negative” towards him, they covered him and let him define himself all the time.

              And even then, it’s hard to say “they didn’t like him”. I mean, the right wing media was in the tank, and that’s a large chunk of the media. But even CNN was round the clock “panels”, so any criticism was blunted by 3 goofs from his campaign at all times, and then for balance they ripped Clinton with 3 of her surrogates defending her. Really…CNN was atrocious during the election. Literally everything was a debate between surrogates, and it allowed the Trump side to actually debate reality.

              • CrunchyFrog says:

                CNN hired Trump discards at outrageous rates to appear daily arguing on behalf of Trump. Some day that little bit of trivial will be a key piece of evidence in someone’s dissertation for just how much parts of the media were – if not exactly pushing Trump – doing everything they could to prevent a Clinton win.

                • Honestly, CNN’s coverage was almost as terrible as Fox’s this cycle. Every time I turned them on, I immediately regretted it. They probably gave Trump more free coverage than any other outlet except Fox, too, and it probably mattered more in CNN’s case because they’re part of the So-Called Liberal Media™.

                • Breadbaker says:

                  Also, it was more likely to be watched by someone with an open mind. And what did they see? Unfiltered Trump and always predigested Clinton.

                  It continues to this day. There is no rule that says Trump’s tweets have to be posted in little boxes on every media outlet. They can be quoted, and they can be truncated and put in context.

            • proportionwheel says:

              “Every presidential candidate should be telegenic and slick. ”

              and male?

            • Cheap Wino says:

              “And tall.”

              Obligatory

          • Derelict says:

            There is no candidate with a (D) after his or her name that the media will like. None.

            This is because the double standard by which Democrats must live put any Democrat automatically in a bad light. Consider how many Republicans have been caught in sex scandals (David Vitter, Larry Craig) and remained in office with little coverage after the initial headline or two. Compare that to any Democrat who gets linked to even the slightest tinge of impropriety–even when the allegations are completely fabricated–and ends up ejected from public life because of a torrent of bad publicity.

            As long as the media is willing to overlook and/or under-report wrongdoing by Republicans while hyping anything even slightly bad about Democrats, there’s no hope for nominating someone “the media likes.”

            • humanoid.panda says:

              There is no candidate with a (D) after his or her name that the media will like. None.

              The notion that Obama in 2008 was not well-liked by the media is “LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS” level of delusion.

              • Nobdy says:

                Obama is an exception but he is also clean beyond belief. I mean the man is out of a goddamned Norman Rockwell painting.

                And not only is he clean, he’s cool.

                Frankly Barack Obama is almost as cartoonish as Donald Trump, but we didn’t notice because it’s in the opposite direction (Smart, accomplished, decent, charismatic.)

                Are we living in a TV series? Someone has to tell me if I’m a TV character! I demand to know.

              • Connecticut Yankee says:

                They broke up with *John McCain* for Obama in ’08. Almost as one-sided as 2000

              • CP says:

                Obama was also a case of the Republican Party having so comprehensively shit the bed that even the MSM couldn’t cover for it like usual. I’m far from certain that Obama in 2000 or even 2004 would’ve gotten the same treatment.

            • Nobdy says:

              see John Edwards cheated on his wife, which wasn’t nice, and the idea of him running for elected office is laughable at this point.

              Mark Sanford not only cheated on his wife but as a governor LEFT THE COUNTRY without telling anybody where he was to have sex with his mistress, and is currently a house representative.

              That one boggles my mind more than Vitter and Craig because what Sanford did CLEARLY makes him unfit for public office regardless of your feelings about his private sex life. A governor cannot disappear without forwarding information. What if there’s an emergency?!?

              • humanoid.panda says:

                Um, John Edwards’ wife was ill with cancer at the time AND he was convicted for campaign finance irregularities.

                And Sanford resign his office, which is the appropriate penalty under the circumstances.

                • LF says:

                  Sanford successfully ran for Congress shortly thereafter and won easily, and still represents SC in the House. His self-imposed exile didn’t last long at all.

            • James B. Shearer says:

              … Compare that to any Democrat who gets linked to even the slightest tinge of impropriety–even when the allegations are completely fabricated–and ends up ejected from public life because of a torrent of bad publicity.

              Gerry Studds, Barney Frank and Bill Clinton all survived sex scandals. As did Edward Kennedy.

            • YNWA40515 says:

              Just a bit of blue-skying here . . .

              I think there’s definitely a double standard, yet I also wonder how much of this current climate is due to large parts of the electorate having long since internalized the notion that all politicians are to some extent or another corrupt, venal, self-serving, what have you.

              So with Republicans–especially from the perspective of their loyal base–the fact that so many of them are deeply, deeply flawed almost keeps them “real.” No member of the GOP ever seems to suffer much once they acknowledge their sins and move on with the task of sticking it to the poor, the blacks, libtards generally, etc. Their voters would no doubt prefer a squeaky clean candidate, but they’ll overlook any number of indiscretions (short of the old adage about dead girls and live boys. And then only possibly, because at this point, I wouldn’t bet my house on even that sinking any GOP candidates). Of course it helps that–as Derp Fuhrer’s candidacy demonstrates beyond any doubt–the RWNJ base cares primarily (perhaps exclusively) that their candidates be firm adherents to Cleek’s Law, but they have also been conditioned to expect venality and corruption, and are thus seemingly unfazed by it.

              So I wonder: in addition to the double standard, how much of the “problem” for Hillary comes down to many people simply refusing to accept that she’s not guilty of something, (because after all, they all are)? Obviously the right would howl until the end of time about any genuine indiscretion, no matter how trivial. But if it were insignificant enough, and she simply acknowledged it and moved on, would that have inoculated her to some degree? If not from further scandal-mongering, then at least from further scandal-mongering having much or the same effect? I have no idea what that would be, and with the aforementioned double standard, it would have to be just right . . . but I can’t help feeling there’s something more than just the double standard to the dynamic that allows Republicans to get a pass despite fielding so many candidates who aren’t just incompetent imbeciles, but are morally and ethically compromised in franky terrifying ways.

              • She did, at one point, actually acknowledge responsibility for the email server. It didn’t make a damn bit of difference.

                But yeah, the way the left and the right react to perceptions of corruption is probably indicative of a problem we face structurally.

      • See the third SNL debate sketch:

        CHRIS WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to ask you about an ongoing issue for your campaign. Wikileaks has been releasing your campaign emails. Many of which raise some serious questions.

        HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you for bringing up my emails, Chris. And I’m very happy to clarify what was in some of them– [turns to look offstage] sorry, what, Carol? — what? I’m sorry, I thought I heard my friend Carol. Anyway, back to your question about the way that Donald treats women. [beat] And that is how you pivot.

        CHRIS WALLACE: So, you’re just never going to answer a question about your emails.

        HILLARY CLINTON: No, but it was very cute to watch you try.

    • Nobdy says:

      Hmm. Would you include people who would give you an answer that was either incoherent or demonstrably wrong? I think MORE than 25% might say “She put all our government secrets on an unsecured server where all kinds of hackers were able to get them” or something similar.

      I mean there are people out there who are still extremely suspicious that Hillary Clinton might have been involved in the death of Vince Foster. The thing about this kind of mud is that while you can disprove it you can never fully remove the stain.

    • nemdam says:

      You grossly overestimate the number of people who could tell you what she did wrong. It’s somewhere around the number of people who can tell you what Benghazi and Whitewater were about. And as Scott states above, and I’m dead serious about this, it’s possible 75% of reporters couldn’t tell you what any of these scandals were about.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Whitewater is an even more classic example. You could read all of Gerth’s stories and still have no idea what the fuck the Clintons were even supposed to have done wrong.

    • Cheap Wino says:

      Not knowing wouldn’t stop them from an incoherent 5-minute rant that would include Whitewater, the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, Monica, Obama, ad infinitum of shit that didn’t stick. Which would, in their mind, be a more than sufficient answer. Take that libtard!

      • cpinva says:

        “When a man’s income depends on him believing ludicrous “scandals”, you’ll be hard pressed to get him to look at objective facts.” or something like that.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Define specifically. I kept hearing things from Trump supporters and other anti-Clinton obsessives like “if I handled email that way, I’d be fired” and “what’s important is what was in those missing emails” followed by unhinged speculation about their content based on rumor and a general sense that actual sources are, by definition, inaccurate.

      So I guess I’d say that it went beyond just shouting “emails.” There were a series of (very bad) arguments connected to them.

      • McAllen says:

        Right, but ask them “what way?” or “what was in those missing emails?” Most of them wouldn’t even be able to tell you something that was specific, but incorrect.

      • DAS says:

        Actually one of my fears about the email “scandal” was that it would be used as an excuse to push for stricter rules forcing people to use their work emails for anything related to work, including sensitive union matters.

        I.e. your employer (or for those of us working in the public sector, elected government officials pass a law which) says “in light of recent scandals involving personal emails, we will now require all employees to use their work email address for anything related to their job”. Nobody objects because “given HRC’s email scandal being so scandalous, this requirement is reasonable”. And then they need to discuss something with their union leader, but they are in the field and calling or meeting in person is not convenient … so they send an email using their personal email, the boss geta wind of it and, Bam!, they are fired for violating workplace email policies. Or they realize they can’t use their personal email so they use their work email, which their boss reads because employers have a right to read employee emails without their consent or even knowledge.

        Anyway, FWIW, I know many scientists who have a personal email they use specifically for research (as opposed to work email they use for teaching, if academics, or company business if in industry).

  2. Nobdy says:

    This feels like kind of a throwback pundit take, bringing us back to the time when people pretended policy or substance were important.

    I remember back when there were all kinds of arguments that voters were smart and could see through the B.S. and that media coverage wasn’t what mattered.

    It’s a genre that doesn’t play well in the Trump era.

    My guess is that this is a combination of a motivated argument and inertia. The conclusion fits with the general thesis of the piece, and he may be from a time when we, as a society, pretended that voters based their decision based on more than a sort of animalistic gut tribal urge (even as we saw the data tell us that the taller candidate won most elections.)

    • nemdam says:

      Yup, and this is why I misread the impact of EMAILS!, and I think Hillary did as well. It’s so obviously trivial and boring if you spend just 30 minutes trying to research the actual substance of the scandal that it is easy to assume that it would go in the dustbin of so many other trivial scandals that Republicans throw at the Dems. Its use looked like an act of desperation, not anything that could actually get Donald freaking Trump elected.

      • Nobdy says:

        I knew the constant hammering of Emailz would hurt Hillary, what I didn’t anticipate was the number of people who would just shrug off Trump’s literally dozens of disqualifying scandals/characteristics. From his constant stiffing of everyone who ever worked for him to his ties to Russia to his obvious ignorance, everything about Trump screamed “This is not a guy you want to be president.”

        I’ve looked back on the LGM debate threads and my comments and my reaction was basically “Look how much better she is than him in every way, there’s no WAY anyone but a hardcore racist could go for him.”

        I underestimated the number of hardcore racists and, more relevantly here, I underestimated the number of people who picked a candidate based on what was repeated most/last. They heard “emails” over and over again and then again loudly at the end of the campaign and they were like “Duhh…adoy…duhduhduh…I gonna vote based on emails…ahyuckhyuck….duhhhhhhhhhhh” It’s behavior so stupid I barely recognize it as human “reasoning”, but it fucked everything.

        • nemdam says:

          It should be noted that the polls said Hillary crushed Donald in every debate. What is shocking is that this didn’t translate to election day.

          But yes, I forgot to mention that thinking EMAILS! would still matter given her opponent’s whole life was basically a serious of disqualifying scandals seemed like a conclusion only Sean Hannity could believe. Our country is so f’ed up.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          I think I made 2 mistakes:
          1. Early on, I presumed that once primary was over, 2008 style reconcilliation would take place, and HRC would get to Romney-level popularity- enough to beat Trump.
          2. The big one: I figured that most people would use qualifications for office as deal breaker. But Trump got 25% of voters who thought he was unqaulified, and the vast majority of people who disliked him and Hillary.

          • Nobdy says:

            HRC would get to Romney-level popularity- enough to beat Trump.

            Not sure what this means. Romney got about 61 million votes, Clinton about 66. Even accounting for population growth she was more popular than Romney by a significant margin.

            • humanoid.panda says:

              Favorability ratings. Votes are not the same as popularity, no matter how the readership of this blog insists they are..

              • humanoid.panda says:

                Put otherwise: she finished election with 48% popular vote, but 43% favorability. If her favorability was 50% , hard to believe she doesn’t get to 49% of the vote- and thus win WI,MI,PA, and FL.

        • cpinva says:

          “It’s behavior so stupid I barely recognize it as human “reasoning”, but it fucked everything.”

          consider this, as you look at the people around you everyday. the vast majority of the people you see/interact with, are working at the intellectual level of just barely homo erectus.

          • N__B says:

            Or as Saint George said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

            • gmack says:

              Meh. Most people simply engage in “makessense, stop!” reasoning. We have a more or less formed belief, and then we search out something that makes sense of it or confirms it. And then we stop. All of us do this sometimes, particularly when dealing with subjects we might not know huge amounts about. We need not assume that most people are just stupid. All we need to assume is that we often use cognitive shortcuts, and that sometimes these shortcuts lead to bad conclusions. This is a better way of thinking about it, in my view, since the assumption of stupidity among the population pretty straightforwardly undercuts most leftist devotion to democratic norms and practices.

            • Wamba says:

              Only in those cases where the average = the median

        • Derelict says:

          Do not also ignore the impact of “I will repeal ObamaCare on Day 1!” I know far too many people who voted Trump based on that (my sister and her husband, for two).

          There was another substantial chunk that, after 25 years of media saturation of how horrible Hillary is, voted for Trump simply because they hate Hate HATE HATE!!! that woman.

          And then there’s the big swath of complete dumbshits who heard nonsense like “I’m going to bring all your jobs back from China and Mexico within a week of taking office!” and honestly believed that.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        I was totally blindsided by Trump’s victory. But Clinton got the percentage of the popular vote that I’d predicted weeks earlier (while 100% expecting a Clinton electoral college victory). The two things I got wrong were that I underestimated Trump’s vote (I thought more Republicans would refuse to vote for him and that Johnson would do one or two percentage points better). And I didn’t take seriously Nate Silver’s warnings about the electoral misallocation of Clinton’s vote. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that: 1) I was totally wrong about the outcome of the election; 2) I thought the effect of EMAILZ! wouldn’t be that great; 3) I don’t think I was wrong about the effect of EMAILZ!, but given the things I was wrong about, that effect (like a lot of other things) was probably enough to make a difference in the outcome.

  3. Vance Maverick says:

    Nit: I think there are a few words missing here:

    In the next graf, Gessen adduces “the 25-year rightwing war on the Clintons” as a variable that affected the election, and true enough although I think this common formulation [omits the role] that mainstream media outlets (with the New York Times at the front of the line) have played in this.

  4. ASV says:

    The conflation of the two stories alone is enough to make WL damaging, because it allowed e-mails to continue to be front page news for the three months between Comey’s intrusions into the election. It also, of course, gave certain voters on the left an excuse to stay home or write in a non-running candidate, which would be perfectly OK as a protest because Hillary was going to win anyway.

    • brewmn says:

      In my unscientific sampling of Facebook commenters, the fact that the DNC “rigged the primary against Sanders was very often a reason cited for not being able to support Hillary.

      • Abbey Bartlet says:

        Someone literally just said that to me on twitter.

        • Literally encountered a half dozen people saying it over at Jezebel. I like to ask them repeatedly what, exactly, the DNC did. It’s amazing how flustered some of them get — although I actually have managed to find some who were just genuinely misled, and who were shocked when I linked them to an analysis of what was actually in the emails. Most of them, though, just resort to that classic sign of bad faith: “if you don’t already know X you must have been asleep! I’m not going to do your research for you!”

          • Pat says:

            If one were going to conduct a misinformation campaign against a foreign power to drive an election result, it would make sense to find ways to confuse and demoralize the supporters of the woman you want to lose.

  5. Dr. Waffle says:

    This is what the “James Comey didn’t make Hillary skip Wisconsin” crowd habitually overlooks. Elections are often times shaped by nothingburger “scandals” or “gaffes” that have little-to-nothing to do with ideology, purity, messaging, or even a candidate’s ground game. It would certainly be nice if politics consisted of nothing but grand ideological struggles, but unfortunately we live in a world in which harping on email management and questioning a war hero’s service record are winning political maneuvers.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      And it should be added that there’s no RIGHT way to fight back against this shit, because aggressively countering them ASAP just lends them credence and currency.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Also: she fought tooth and nail in Pennsylvania and lost. She was certainly wrong to skip Wisconsin (and Michigan), but I’m not convinced her going there would have won those states. And if it did, she still would have lost (because of Pennsylvania).

    • Dennis Orphen says:

      Those are analagous to burning down buildings to cover up the evidence of greater crimes committed inside, or distractions from the real capers committed down the street or around the corner.

  6. nemdam says:

    It’s easier to argue the impact of the Comey letter since it is so easy to prove, but I find it ridiculous to claim that the Russian hacks had a trivial impact on the election. EMAILS! was, and I am still dumbfounded that this is true, the biggest negative against Hillary. Wikileaks and the Russians kept the scandal alive, they reignited it immediately after the Access Hollywood tape (the first Podesta email was released the same evening as the tape) and kept it going until the election. So for the last month of the election, Hillary’s biggest negative was front and center. And it does not seem like a stretch to believe that Wikileaks compounded the impact of the Comey letter. To say that keeping a candidate’s biggest negative front and center during the last month of an election doesn’t have an impact is to basically argue that negative media coverage of a candidate doesn’t matter. Since this is a silly thing to believe, I can’t come to any other conclusion that Russian interference absolutely had a real impact on the race. And since it was one of the closest races in Presidential history, it seems hard to believe that it wasn’t decisive.

    I basically don’t take anyone’s political analysis of the election seriously if they do not take into account the role that EMAILS!, Russia, and the FBI played into the result*.

    *And just to rebut the obvious counterargument, no this does not mean Clinton didn’t make mistakes, that an election has only one cause, and that we can’t discuss ways to do better in the future.

    • Right. One other thing to add, which you don’t explicitly point out but is at least implied in your piece, is that a lot of low-info voters and probably even some reporters didn’t even realise the Podesta emails and Clinton’s email server were two separate stories. They don’t understand technology, so they probably conflated the two and assumed Clinton’s email server was hacked or something (in reality, not only was her server not hacked, but the State Department email server eventually was hacked, so Clinton’s use of a private email server may actually have increased government security).

  7. UnderTheSun says:

    There is no reason at this point to dispute the consensus view of most intelligence analysts that Russian agents hacked the DNC and then leaked the emails to Julian Assange; it is also a well-known fact that Putin hated Hillary Clinton.

    I think Gessen is just avoiding the issue because the actual source of the DNC and Podesta e-mails to Wikileaks is irrelevant since no-one has successfully disproved their authenticity. However, there is a good reason to dispute the consensus view – no evidence has been produced to justify the “assessments” which seems to be the term intelligence analysts use for guesses and two people closely involved with Wikileaks have consistently denied that the Russians were the source for what was actually a leak.
    As for conflating Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problems, many pro-Clinton sites have done this to devalue the Podesta and DNC e-mails. The DNC e-mails mostly damaged the DNC but some pointing out the “co-operation” between the DNC and HRC’s campaign may have done her some damage. But, I’d suggest it was the Podesta e-mails which seem to have been overlooked here that did her the most damage. As for having much impact on the election, the only mention I’ve seen of it suggests that it had little effect on Trump voters, they’d already made up their minds that she couldn’t be trusted.

    • busker type says:

      I don’t think anyone disputes the authenticity of the podesta emails. The point is that taking Anyone’s Private emails and leaking them selectively over a long campaign can be extremely damaging.

    • humanoid.panda says:

      I think Gessen is just avoiding the issue because the actual source of the DNC and Podesta e-mails to Wikileaks is irrelevant since no-one has successfully disproved their authenticity. However, there is a good reason to dispute the consensus view – no evidence has been produced to justify the “assessments” which seems to be the term intelligence analysts use for guesses and two people closely involved with Wikileaks have consistently denied that the Russians were the source for what was actually a leak.
      As for conflating Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problems, many pro-Clinton sites have done this to devalue the Podesta and DNC e-mails. The DNC e-mails mostly damaged the DNC but some pointing out the “co-operation” between the DNC and HRC’s campaign may have done her some damage. But, I’d suggest it was the Podesta e-mails which seem to have been overlooked here that did her the most damage. As for having much impact on the election, the only mention I’ve seen of it suggests that it had little effect on Trump voters, they’d already made up their minds that she couldn’t be trusted.

      You’d do everyone, including yourself, if you just typed “I am a moron” instead of putting so much craft into posts proving the point indirectly.

  8. charluckles says:

    Say for arguments sake that I had complete and total access to everything you have emailed over the past few years. Everything. Now, I am quite sure there is nothing criminal or otherwise “really damaging” in those records for most of us. But, with 6 months time and a team of ratf8ckers, I will selectively drop misleading and damagingly edited bits of your records to every single one of your social media acquaintances, and I will do this on a nearly daily basis.

    How is your reputation at the end of those 6 months?

    The world has changed. I think this has to be one of the most important take homes of 2016.

    • humanoid.panda says:

      And, even those emails are not misleadingly edited, anyone’s email can be embarassing. Who didn’t ever write an email complaining about a boss,co-worker, wife, child?

      One of the things that really amazed my in Podesta’s emails is that in 8 years of emails, there is no shred of him doing or saying anything socially unacceptable. Which is obviously untrue for 95% of the public.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        Neera Tanden said mean things about Larry Lessig!!!

      • Redwood Rhiadra says:

        but…but.but – he said “Pizza!” Repeatedly! That’s got to be code for SOMETHING horribly bad!

        (Yes, I talked last week to an actual Trump voter who was completely serious about this. He didn’t think it was child porn, but he was absolutely *certain* “pizza” had to be *some* sort of code.)

        • A friend of a friend has apparently fallen deep into the Pizzagate hole — she was a liberal, and then a Sanders supporter, then a Johnson supporter, and now says she’s a libertarian, and in addition to Pizzagate she’s started believing all the other right-wing conspiracy theories. Nobody’s really sure what exactly happened there.

          But what struck me is how the germ, if you will, of the whole Pizzagate conspiracy theory is just absolutely unbelievable in its own narrow terms, even if you take all their other claims at face value. It’s an email to Podesta, saying something along the lines of “hey, we found a handkerchief here and someone thought it might be yours, it looks like it has a map on it that might be pizza-related?”

          So the Pizzagate people read backwards here and claimed that “map” means “semen” and “pizza” means “child” (or sometimes “girl”). The thing is, “MAP” and “cheese pizza” do have (supposed) meanings as code among abusers, but they mean “pedophile” and “CP” respectively. Nobody outside Pizzagate has ever claimed those terms mean what the Pizzagaters say.

          But the thing is: even if you take that at face value — who would email someone that they apparently believe to have been involved in a massive child abuse ring and say “hey, we found your semen-covered rag, probably related to your child molestation? do you want it back?”

          (The “answer” for this always ends up being something along the lines of “abusers glory in their evil acts and hide references to it in plain sight and carelessly joke about it to each other”; this is actually a direct carry-over from the Satanic conspiracy theories of the ’70s and ’80s.)

  9. Joe_JP says:

    hardly anything

    that’s enough … should it be? hardly … but the hard thing is that it can be

  10. sigaba says:

    Julian Assange could probably post the USC 2016 spring term schedule of courses on Monday, and on Tuesday the New York Times would have a headline indicating “Leaked Documents Raise Serious Questions About Feminist required courses at University.”

    The mere fact that something is a leak is self-justifying that it is newsworthy and scandalous:

    1) Nixon had leaks
    2) Hillary Clinton had leaks
    3) Nixon’s leaks revealed newsworthy and grave things
    4) [Complete flawed corrolary here]

  11. herewegoagain says:

    I bet that other guy thanks god every day that he didnt have any “scandals” “gaffes” or “nothingburgers” that could have cost him the election.

    • busker type says:

      Really lucky for the republicans that their candidate was such a boyscout

    • Dr. Waffle says:

      Good point. If only the NYT and other media outlets had devoted more coverage to the other guy’s actual, substantive scandals and less on email management.

    • sigaba says:

      He never apologized for them and he never gave any quarter. Scandals are impossible if the subject has no conscience or sense of self-consciousness, because the press uses those as evidence of guilt.

      Everyhing is He-said She-said, until He says She may have had a point. To the press all political wrongdoing is subjective and partisan attacks, until the victim himself acknowledges some truth to it, at which point it becomes “real” wrongdoing. If the subjecf never acknowledges he did anything wrong, the press will never report that he did anything wrong.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        He never apologized for them and he never gave any quarter. Scandals are impossible if the subject has no conscience or sense of self-consciousness, because the press uses those as evidence of guilt.

        No, that’s not true. Trump got to the election as the least popular major party nominee,ever, and whenever his scandals dominated the healdines, his numbers plunged. What saved him was the media’s insistence that Hillary’s scandals were equivalent to his.
        If the pussy tape drops on October 28 and the comey letter on October 1, and not vice versa, Trump loses by 7 points or so, and we are all much happier now.

        • sigaba says:

          Why Trump won is a different question from why the press fluffs some scandals and not others. They had a bias for Clinton scandals for many reasons, not least of which she was the only person who actually seemed to be serious about being president.

          If the other guys is promising to be a fuckup who will loot the country and brutalize his enemies while raping his daughter, I’m not sure what the press is supposed to do with that, how can such a man actually have a “scandal,” what could possibly be worse than appearances? Yeah Russia ties.

          I will hold the press responsible for their relativism, and their cynicism, and their insistenace that nonpartisanship is the same thing as objectivity. But the candidates do have agency and their responses to press stories absolutely influence how the story is covered going forward.

          • herewegoagain says:

            My point is the public heard both loud and clear, but we refuse to accept that they would then vote for the other guy, so we keep harping on EMAILS when PUSSY also existed. White women voted for the PUSSY guy. Get it yet? The people who hated both had to choose, and they chose the PUSSY guy over the EMAILS gal. They liked his message better.

            It’s a fucking travesty we didn’t have a candidate who had a message that could beat the PUSSY guy.

            Now we’ll get the obligatory “but but but no one heard her message…all her commercials were on mute and blacked out and the press and blah blah blah…”

            • Abbey Bartlet says:

              They liked his message better.

              It’s a fucking travesty we didn’t have a candidate who had a message that could beat the PUSSY guy.

              The PUSSY guy was also the KLAN guy, and white people will vote for white supremacy over everything else every time. This is not a surprise.

              If you would like us to run on white supremacy next time, you can feel free to go fuck yourself.

      • Nobdy says:

        This is sort of true for cable news, which is uniformly unwatchable, but the Times and the Post did come out and pretty clearly say Trump was unfit and that what he did was wrong.

        It just didn’t matter because they ALSO seemed to/did come out against what Clinton (innocuously) did and the two canceled out in the minds of enough voters.

    • randy khan says:

      Well, if the other guy believed in any god other than himself, we might have a conversation about this.

      You could make an argument that some of the Trump scandals actually appealed to a group of people who might not otherwise have voted, particularly the sex-related ones. I mean, a lot of people still listen to Howard Stern.

      The crime of this election, of course, is that Trump had plenty of actual scandals (and, to date, his Administration seems to largely consist of scandals of one sort or another) – not “gee, he might have done something different with his emails,” but actual malfeasance, stealing from his foundation, failure to pay contractors for their work, etc., etc. They just got overwhelmed by the “where we think there might be smoke, there’s fire” coverage of Clinton.

      • herewegoagain says:

        You all just can’t accept that the people who decided this election hated them both, but decided they liked his MESSAGE better, can you?

        Did the media need to scream PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY a thousand more times? Would that have thrown the election the other way? Was there this large group of americans who voted for him that didn’t know they he said, AND I QUOTE, GRAB THEM BY THE PUSSY?

        When both candidates are hated by > 50% of the people, BY DEFINITION, people who hate both are going to decide it. Why can’t we just accept that the people who decided this election in the midwest BOUGHT HIS MESSAGE more than they bought hers?

        Nothing overwhelmed the pussy comment. Nothing. Everyone heard it loud and clear. The problem for us is that voters in the midwest – ESPECIALLY WHITE WOMEN, his preferred victims – said “I just don’t give a fuck, I’m giving him a shot, that’s the message I choose.”

        The crime of this election is that we found the only candidate that could lose to this fucking clown because she was disliked by so many and didn’t have a real fucking message other than THAT GUYS A LUNATIC and people in the midwest looked around at their lives and said LET’S ROLL THE FUCKING DICE, this shit ain’t working. I mean, you think they don’t got TV’s in Erie PA? Didn’t see the tape?

        Maybe instead of whining incessantly about the FBI we should be figuring out a message that can actually beat him next time? Y’all know he’s running again, right? And I’ll fucking tell you what, having spent 3+ decades in two of those states HE WASN’T GOING TO WIN, they fucking still love him. He’s sticking it to the muslims and the illegals and the gays. He’s delivering the goods. What’s our message going to be next time around, if the economy hasn’t tanked already? HE’S A LUNATIC?

        • Dr. Waffle says:

          I think the Democrats should run Joe Biden in 2020. He is, after all, extremely likeable.

        • randy khan says:

          You’ve convinced me. Especially the ALL CAPS parts.

          Look, there are multiple reasons that Trump won. One of them is that, no matter what Clinton said, the stories were all about the scandals. I saw her give substantive speeches on topics that were relevant to the electorate. I saw her talk about those things in her stump speeches. I saw very little coverage of them because it was emails all the time (and Trump gaffes all the time). I’ve said before that, in retrospect, she probably should have spent more of her ad budget on positive ads, particularly ones focused on what she planned to do, but frankly that’s a guess as to what would have worked, because certainly there was no coverage of any of that stuff even when she talked about it.

          (And I won’t discount that there was some percentage of voters who saw him as a strong man and wouldn’t vote for a woman, particularly one who hit their buttons about strong women.)

          But, sure, there are people who loved him who still love him. (Although the polling indicates that group actually has been shrinking since the inauguration.) Some of them are gettable with specific messages; some of them aren’t gettable at all. The Democrats’ problems with a lot of the gettable group is that they really have a hard time lying directly to them – we know the coal jobs aren’t coming back, for instance, and generally won’t say they are. But still, we have to work on ways to improve the message so that working class people can understand that Republican policies actually are bad for them and Democratic policies are better.

          And, for that matter, there are people who ought to have voted for (or would have voted for ) Democrats who didn’t vote for one reason or another and, much though I hate the necessity, we’re going to have to spend resources to do things like getting voter IDs for more minority voters to get more Ds out to the polls.

          • herewegoagain says:

            “Substantive Speeches.”

            Realize that the morons in the middle couldn’t give two fucks about “substantive speeches. This is why we lost. We had a guy who said he was going to rip a job out of a mexicans hand and give it to an american vs. a gal who said she was going to do something “substantive.” Do you think these morons in the midwest thought this was a winning message?

            How many decades did you live in wisconsin, michigan, and pennsylvania? How many hundreds of people from these states have you spent decades around? Do you have polling from these swing voters if you don’t have any experiences?

            The coal jobs aren’t coming back. But none of Clinton’s “substantive” ideas were going to solve shit either – we’ve been over this a million times. How do you create 2 million jobs when the fed says it stands ready to destroy 2 million jobs? You don’t. You’re lying just like he is. He’s just better at it.

            I fear for our party cause no one seems to know what the fuck just happened and we’re carrying on like we just need the media to publish our “substantive speeches” more often and we’ve got this!

            • Dr. Waffle says:

              Here’s what happened: a white nationalist capitalized on white fears of a world falling apart and being overrun by scary brown people (ISIS, refugees, illegal immigrants, black gangs, etc.). It’s the same “law and order” bullshit that’s been a boon to reactionaries for centuries.

            • randy khan says:

              So how do you propose that Dems appeal to “morons”? Seriously, I’m asking.

              But in any event, you missed my point. Clinton could have been promising unicorns and rainbows and, from the perspective of what the voters were going to hear, it would have been the same if she’d been attacking Trump 24/7 because the press wasn’t covering any of that. The fake scandals (and, ironically, Trump’s real scandals) overwhelmed the substantive message.

              By the way, a little bit of empirical evidence on this point is that Clinton got pretty good bumps every time she had a chance to make her case without filters – the DNC acceptance speech and the debates. So, actually, when people heard her actual message, it helped.

              And, of course, I agree – as I did in my post above, in case you didn’t notice – that the Dems need to work on messaging to gettable voters who didn’t vote for Clinton. I’m not sure how big that group is, but it’s big enough to try to capture.

            • Just_Dropping_By says:

              “Gal”???

        • sigaba says:

          Why can’t we just accept that the people who decided this election in the midwest BOUGHT HIS MESSAGE more than they bought hers?

          The message this marginal “hate both” group bought was that government is a corrupt scam and the objective of an “honest” man is to use the corruption and scams to beat up who we hate and benefit who we like. This is not a message that Democrats can co-opt.

          • herewegoagain says:

            Or they got “they’re taking your jobs and Imma get your jobs back” vs. “HE’S FUCKING INSANE WHAT ARE YOU DOING????”

            • Dr. Waffle says:

              “Muslims shouldn’t enter the country,” too. Maybe HRC should have adopted some of that good ol’ fashion xenophobia that seems to rile up the noble white men of this country so much.

              • herewegoagain says:

                The GETTABLE swing voters didn’t fucking care about that shit. “Not my problem, not a muslim.” Maybe we should have had an economic message that could beat “imma yank that job out of that foreigners hands and give it to you”?

                Or are we conceding all elections forever to racists and bigots?

                • Dr. Waffle says:

                  Of course they cared about that. That was his fucking message. He started his campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists.” He gained popularity by calling for a ban on Muslim emigration. It’s the same game wannabe strongmen always play.

                • randy khan says:

                  I’m beginning to think that you’re constructing some imaginary voter who could have been moved by the kind of message that no real Democrat would use.

                  I mean, the real answer on jobs is investment in U.S.R&D, infrastructure, and education (including job training). It was, in fact, what Clinton promoted. I’m happy to hear how that could have been packaged to convince the necessary number of Trump voters that it was better than kicking immigrants out of the country and starting a trade war.

              • Lee Rudolph says:

                “Muslims shouldn’t enter the country,” too.

                Hell, they shouldn’t even re-enter the(ir) country.

                I especially enjoy how they “repeatedly” asked “‘Where did you get your name from?'”.

        • Somehow I felt spittle spraying on me as I read this comment.

  12. TroubleMaker13 says:

    Let’s just cut the crap and talk about what’s really going on here with the carping from Greenwald, Fang, Jilani, et al and all of the trolls parading through here with their “Democrats aren’t learning” bullshit.

    This is pure Clinton hatred on display. It’s not enough to these people that they helped keep her out of the White House, they have to try to obliterate her entirely. They want a complete purge of every whiff of even the most measured and pragmatic support for Clinton’s candidacy from the party they want ritual denunciations of Clinton from the rest of us.

    Talk about McCarthyism. It’s pure vindictive hatred and it’s pathological.

    • nemdam says:

      With the added cynical self-interest that Clinton-hating is profitable for these folks. When Clinton lost, that messed up their business since they planned on riding the Clinton-hating gravy train for four years. They don’t know what to do without her as a foil so they just keep up the hate beyond all reason.

    • herewegoagain says:

      Waaaaaa Clinton couldn’t beat the PUSSY guy she was failed she can’t fail waaaaaaaaa….

      Get over it. She was a terrible candidate. She couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. The guy was literally on tape ah fuck it. You’ve heard it a million times. You just refuse to accept the fact that people who are swing voters in the midwest wanted change and she was the EMBODIMENT of the establishment, and the other guy promised to shake shit up. Some of you have no idea what is going on in the midwest but that doesn’t stop you from constantly telling us what we need to do.

      I thought we couldn’t lose ever again because demographics etc? How’d that work out again?

      Remember when clinton was going to get all those responsible republican votes? How comes none of you are shitting on her for making the fatal error of EVEN THINKING THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A RESPONSIBLE REPUBLICAN?

      Someone tell me what voters thought her message was, in two sentences or less. Again, I’ll tell you trumps. The voters that decide elections ARE ABSOLUTE FUCKING MORONS. You don’t win them with “white papers” you win them with bullshit. And we were out-bullshitted.

      • Dr. Waffle says:

        They just wanted CHANGE . . . involving the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country. THAT was Trump’s message.

        • herewegoagain says:

          You’re conflating two separate but similar messages.

          Republicans always win the racists (ban muslims.) Nothing’s changed. No voters switched.

          But DEPORT ALL MEXICANS and NAFTA SUCKS is an economic message as much as it is a racist message. Cause if there’s a mexican who accepts $5/hr gone, that’s a job that just opened up and he’s not dragging your wages down. If you can’t send my job to mexico (or my neighbor’s job, now he doesn’t come in to applebees and tip me no more cause his job’s gone) then I still have a job. See how this works?

          There are swing voters in the middle. These people are absolute fucking morons. But they have jobs and families and housing and etc etc etc. And their lives are shit and someone has to be blamed. We’ve tried the other way – for eight years. But “my life is STILL shit, time to shake shit up.”

          Do y’all get it yet? Do I need to start buying one way tickets to PA for y’all? Maybe you should find out what people from Erie actually think instead of assuming the people who voted for BARRACK HUSSEIN are now racist against muslims, but just didn’t realize it till now.

          PS. West Virginia is the most racist state I know. Obama lost it more narrowly that Clinton. Black Barack Hussein Obama. Try to reconcile your facts now.

          • Dr. Waffle says:

            Is that the same Barack Obama whose policy positions are remarkably similar to Hillary Clinton’s?

            Also: it’s almost as if terrorism was more of a hot-button issue this election cycle than it was in 2012 or 2008! See, there’s this group called ISIS that captured the world’s attention over the last 2-3 years by carrying out increasingly brutal attacks on civilian targets all over the world. These, coupled with the refugee crisis, gave right-wing reactionaries ammunition to accuse incumbent governments of being weak on terrorism and foreign policy.

            But you’re right: it makes much more sense that the 2016 Election was a referendum on NAFTA and not events that have dominated headlines over the last couple of years.

            • louislouis says:

              No, he said it was a referendum on how people feel about their lives, and how their lives are being made worse under the current system. So they opted for the alternative. It’s not a rational calculation based on facts, but rather emotion.

          • Dr. Waffle says:

            P.S. Congrats for not understanding structural racism and intersectionality! What’s your next argument? Donald Trump’s not a racist because he appointed Ben Carson to run HUD?

      • TroubleMaker13 says:

        Get over it.

        I’m over it. You guys clearly are not, and apparently won’t be until Hillary Clinton is frog-marched down Broadway in a Game-of-Thrones style walk of shame before being burned at the stake in the middle of Times Square.

      • Abbey Bartlet says:

        You’ve heard it a million times.

        And yet still you write long, frothing comments telling us.

  13. kped says:

    The DNC leaks were in fact “nothing”. Unfortunately, apart from Clinton and some left wing blogs such as this, they were most certainly not treated as “nothing”. From the Intercept having daily updates with 2 or 3 different writers working around the clock post new “scandals” revealed (OMG, reporters ask for comment, and campaigns…give comments! And campaigns…try to influence stories and the media!!! This is all serious stuff let’s report it with breathless headlines! Every Day even!).

    So, I agree with Scott, this wasn’t the “cause” of Clinton’s loss, but to dismiss it entirely is to say that all the breathless reporting from CNN, NYTimes, The Intercept…fuck it, from everywhere, was meaningless. I don’t buy that. The constant repetition of “emails”, the blurring of this with the private server, all of it mattered. Then add “Huma Emails on Weiner computer” a week out, and everything seemed like “something”, even when it was all nothing. All of these things fed off of each other, and while you can’t isolate the impacts, they all mattered.

    • louislouis says:

      Hard to argue the content of the emails wasn’t newsworthy. Also hard to argue that the Intercept is all that influential. There’s a gap between the content of the leaks and the now-constant claims that Putin “hacked the election,” “undermined democracy,” and “installed Trump.” Scott has tried to square the circle with a shell game consisting of “Clinton’s not running again [though that’s not really certain] so let’s ignore her missteps” and “these other factors could happen again so let’s focus on them” with the caveat that “no one factor is dispositive” (even though Scott’s arbitrary weighting of causes makes some loom larger than others). So now he’s arguing that the media’s reporting of the leaks trumps all their substance in terms of importance. There were lots of interviews with voters both before and after the election, and frustration with Obamacare came up as frequently if not more than the server/leaks. So there’s really not much to tie the email hack to the election result unless that’s a more comforting view of the loss, which it appears to be at LGM.

      • kped says:

        It’s actually quite easy to argue that the Podesta leaks were not newsworthy. I listed a few that drove some coverage. “Clinton team asked for comment on story..provides comment” or “Clinton team discusses ways to get favorable media coverage”. That’s not newsworthy, that’s…nothing. As far as I can tell, the only actual newsworthy thing was Donna Brazile possibly passing some answers to Clinton (and that may be the DNC hacks, not the Podesta hacks). But even that would be a minor, 1 day story (I mean..”Hey Hillary, in Flint, you’re going to get a question about the water”. Like….really? Thanks Donna, that’s the key to me winning!)

        Honestly, i can’t deal with hacks like you…this is just all garbage.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Hard to argue the content of the emails wasn’t newsworthy.

        It is, in fact, very easy.

        Also hard to argue that the Intercept is all that influential.

        Indeed. How about, say, the Washington Post? It is even harder to argue that the Republican candidate for president, who mentioned the DNC emails dozens of times, lacks influence.

        There’s a gap between the content of the leaks and the now-constant claims that Putin “hacked the election,” “undermined democracy,” and “installed Trump.”

        This is only true if you’re incapably of grasping the elementary concepts that 1)events can have multiple causes and 2)when an election is very close a factor that is not hugely important in itself can nonetheless be decisive.

        “Clinton’s not running again [though that’s not really certain] so let’s ignore her missteps”

        I’ve never said anyone should ignore her missteps; I’ve argued that it’s idiotic to say that her missteps are the only appropriate subject of discussion. Oh, and no she’s not running again.

        • louislouis says:

          I think the Comey argument is much better based on the polling data before and after. However I’ve not seen a similar argument re: the Wikileaks dump. Not saying it wasn’t a factor at all; questioning – like Gessen – the assumption that it was as decisive as it’s currently being treated.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            I’d suggest reading the posts until the end.

            • louislouis says:

              I did, but you’re in denial if you’re not acknowledging the mainstreaming of the “Russia hacked the election and installed Trump” meme. It’s everywhere. What I’m saying is there’s little evidence to make those kind of pronouncements as a matter of fact.

              • Citation, please. I’ve seen exactly zero sources saying that there is concrete evidence Russia hacked the election results. If there were, that would be a major story that would be front-page news on every national newspaper.

                What I have seen is claims that Russia hacked sources linked to the candidates, and then disseminated carefully timed document dumps to manipulate the American news cycle. That is an entirely different claim with a substantial amount of evidence to back it up.

        • Abbey Bartlet says:

          The Intercept is not all that influential, but it is influential with certain groups, and in a close election (which we now know is essentially *all* elections), that matters. I find it perfectly plausible that the Intercept and the places piggybacking off of it swung a couple thousand votes in the Rust Belt. Enough to flip the states? Nah. Does that make them less culpable? Also nah.

        • Honestly, the most newsworthy/damning thing in the DNC emails didn’t get much coverage at all — they were emailing around credit card numbers and other sensitive information. Bad form. Not PCI compliant. And, of course, Wikileaks ended up releasing all of that sensitive information about Democratic donors because DISRUPTING THE SYSTEM is more important than anything.

  14. Chetsky says:

    I’ve often wondered if the answer to this wasn’t the nuclear option. That is, when Chaffetz investigates Hillary’s emails, Obama should have instructed the DOJ to start prosecuting the torturers. Really blow apart the entire tepid cease-fire between R and Dem on that. Ditto on R email usage (22m bush emails?) And again, not “but whatabout …” but rather “indictment today against Dick Cheney”.

  15. Shakezula says:

    Question Begging Time with your host, Keith Gessen.

  16. The absurdly high Obamacare premium hikes occurred right around the same time as Comey, so I find the idea that there’s an easy way to draw causality in the polls from Comey’s actions not at all persuasive.

    But of course, “it’s the economy stupid” is only deployed when doing so makes Clintons look good. When it doesn’t, well….

    • Hogan says:

      Yes, I remember those premium hikes appearing on the front page of every newspaper and dominating the cable coverage.

    • Chetsky says:

      Yippee, Freddie, you’re Baaaaack!! I’ve got my popcorn in the microwave, can you just gimme 15min before you start? I’m all outta Leffe, gotta run down to the corner store and get a sixer, and then I’ll be all set!

      • Nobdy says:

        YOU’RE BEING OBJECTIVELY DESPICABLE!!!!

        (I literally shouted “BONERSSSS!” when I saw he had posted here. One wonders WHY, especially to make a weaksauce counterclaim about something that isn’t the focus of Scott’s post, but I guess we shouldn’t look a gift boner in the…urethra?)

    • Dr. Waffle says:

      Hey, remember that time you tried to make Donald Sterling into a free speech martyr?

    • kped says:

      You’re kidding, right? You are saying the 8 full days of “Comey letter” coverage leading into the last weekend wasn’t the factor there, it was a 2 day story of “some places had really high spikes”?

      Try harder Freddie, you aren’t this dumb.

      (also, since you weren’t mentioned anywhere here, this kind of disproves your “I never look at you, but you were talking about me” pose you usually use when he come here to fart your deep thoughts…)

      • TroubleMaker13 says:

        Try harder Freddie, you aren’t this dumb.

        No, but he is precisely this depraved and dishonest.

        • kped says:

          Indeed. And he hates legitimate debate. I tried to comment on his medium blog, he wrote something about a guy on twitter who was doxxed, and blamed Freddie (Freddie had tweeted “jokingly” about how the guy should get doxxed). Freddie wrote a long medium post saying “who me?” and saying he didn’t have followers, etc, and why does everyone hate him? They all agree with him.

          I tried to comment, saying he knows very well that he is disliked because he literally tries to start arguments in comments sections all over the internet, and that he’s had very public feuds with prominent people on twitter (mainly women of color…), and also…he has over 20K followers. And he knows quite well that those followers have harassed those women on Twitter after he publicly feuded with them (see: Gandi, Imani). Hell, Freddie has tweeted repeatedly that it’s just twitter, log off if you don’t like it. So to play the innocent is a bit disingenuous.

          Needless to say, that comment was never allowed on that blog post. So what you have is just Freddie “who me”‘ing the situation and playing the innocent, without any of the ugly stuff he’s been involved in for more context.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      The absurdly high Obamacare premium hikes occurred right around the same time as Comey, so I find the idea that there’s an easy way to draw causality in the polls from Comey’s actions not at all persuasive.

      There were premium hikes every time Comey intervened followed by similar effect on the polls? And media coverage in the last two weeks of the campaign was dominated by coverage of premium hikes? Fascinating and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • Dr. Waffle says:

      Freddie’s journal, February 25, 2017:

      Bad takes on Twitter this morning. The Internet’s afraid of me. I’ve seen it’s true face. The left is an extended gutter, and the gutter is full of hippie-punching. When the Tumblr accounts finally scab over, all the McCarthyists will drown. The accumulated filth of all their listicles and jokes and John Oliver videos will foam up around their waists and all the liberals and first-generation Marxists will look up and shout ‘Save us!’… and I’ll whisper ‘No.’

    • Chetsky says:

      Hey hey, come ONNNN, Freddie! Say something douchnozzley, mang! I’m gettin’ bored here and if you don’t start soon, I’ll eat all the popcorn, drink all the beer, and I’ll have to sleep it off. And that’ll be a WASTE! Start already!

    • sigaba says:

      In your defense, the Obamacare premiums seemed to come up with most of the face-to-face interactions with Democrat detractors I spoke to.

      Most of them stated they were holding their nose and voting for Clinton, thought most of them also considered her win a done deal so who knows what happened.

    • nemdam says:

      I’m curious. Do you have any thoughts on the DNC race? I see Tom Perez won and is trying to appease the Ellison faction by making him deputy.

    • The premium hikes and other negative buzz around “Obamacare” (particularly the threat of one company to withdraw from the exchanges) certainly didn’t help, but the idea that this proves we can’t know Comey was a significant factor is more than a stretch. We do know that every time the “emails” story got on the media front burner Clinton took a hit in the polls. Coincidence? I think not.

  17. Joe_JP says:

    Meanwhile:

    Gabriel DebenedettiVerified [email protected] 20m20 minutes ago

    TOM PEREZ FALLS ONE VOTE SHORT, we go to a second round. 214.5 needed, he gets 213.5.

    • wjts says:

      DEMS IN DISARRAY!

    • Joe_JP says:

      Tom Perez wins 235-200

      True believer alert:

      Gabriel DebenedettiVerified [email protected] 47s48 seconds ago

      Some angry chanting from Ellison fans: “Party of the people, not big money!”

      • Harry Hardrada says:

        Apparently all that noise is coming from a grand total of nine Ellison supporters.

        Pretty good analogy for Bernie-or-busters compared to the rest of the Bernie supporters, actually.

      • Keith Ellison has tweeted congratulations and called for unity. Good for him.

        Ellison would have been good, and I think it’s unfortunate that his being Muslim might have cost him the vote, but I’m sure Perez will be good and I think Ellison will have a role to play in the rebuilding going forward. It is unfortunate that mutual suspicion between the Obama people and the Sanders people helped poison matters between the supporters of the two candidates but while unity is not a reason to silence debate, unity is still essential for a party. Unity doesn’t mean no differences and disagreements, it means managing them and finding the common ground from which to move forward. Let this now be done, for the good of the Democratic Party, for the good of the progressive politics that still relies heavily on Democratic Party electoral success to have a chance of policy success, and for the good of the country.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      IF ONLY WIKILEAKS HAD TOLD US ALL PERZE SUPPORTED HILLARY OVER BERNIE LAST WEEK INSTEAD OF TOO LATE!!!!!

  18. Lord Jesus Perm says:

    I got my popcorn ready. Please don’t disappoint

  19. LosGatosCA says:

    The Democrats generally suck at their job.

    The media totally sucks at their job.

    The Republicans suck at their job on purpose.

    That’s the America we live in.

    Luckily, the electoral system that we live in let’s us elect the least suckiest folks to govern us.

    Wait, that didn’t come out right.

  20. rfm says:

    It’s basically gospel among cynical, above-it-all people who don’t actually know that much about politics that the stolen DNC emails are definitive proof of a conspiracy to screw Bernie Sanders. Saying it wasn’t damaging only proves one is part of a political circle whose other arguments require it not to be damaging.

  21. louislouis says:

    Well to be fair Gessen’s point was that hacking the DNC emails, which didn’t turn up much of substance, cuts against the view of Putin as super villain genius electoral manipulator. Now, maybe Putin knew that any leaks would hurt Clinton and help Trump. And it’s true that the Wikileaks dump was conflated by some with the server issue. Did Putin anticipate that? Possibly? But the biggest effect of the leaks in my view was to piss off a lot of Bernie dead-enders. Maybe some of them stayed home as a result. But a) that’s unknowable and b) it strains credulity to think Putin would have foreseen such an outcome. Then there’s the fact that some of the Clinton foundation stuff caused a stir but it basically folded into the Clinton cash critique that was already out there. I’d agree with Gessen then that if this was Putin’s best effort to “hack” the election then it was underwhelming at best. Netanyahu’s public statements/speech to the House would seem to demonstrate a much more effective way of interfering with a presidential election, even if those efforts ultimately came to naught.

    • Hob says:

      “it strains credulity to think Putin would have foreseen such an outcome”

      Strains whose credulity? Why?

      I really don’t think you have to have a deep understanding of another country’s politics to be able to guess that stirring up resentment between factions of a party could tend to weaken the front-runner of that party.

      “Then there’s the fact that some of the Clinton foundation stuff caused a stir but it basically folded into the Clinton cash critique that was already out there.”

      I have no idea what you mean by this. If it caused a stir, then by definition it can’t have been so redundant as to be unimportant. And if you know that a particular line of attack was “already out there”, then it makes sense to release stuff that will feed into that line of attack, since it feeds into the “where there’s smoke there’s fire / if this is no big deal then why do we keep seeing so many stories on the same subject” habits of the press.

      Anecdotally, for what it’s worth, literally no one I know personally or follow regularly online mentioned Doug Henwood’s book until the leaks started. After that, I saw lots and lots of people talking about the Clinton Foundation as if it was definitely a very shady thing, and literally all of those people cited the emails.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Well to be fair Gessen’s point was that hacking the DNC emails, which didn’t turn up much of substance, cuts against the view of Putin as super villain genius electoral manipulator.

      Again 1)who exactly thinks that “leaking negative information against your political enemies” is some work of extraordinary supergenius and 2)who could possibly, in 2017, think that just because material isn’t of major substantive importance it therefore can’t be used in a damaging way against Hillary Clinton?

      The rest of your comment is equally non-responsive.

  22. LosGatosCA says:

    I’m still amazed that Obama comes out of the 2016 the same way Wilson came out of Super Bowl 49 –

    blameless.

    If Russell reads the defense and doesn’t throw the ball on the bad call, it’s just a bad call that didn’t work. Not an interception that ends the game.

    If Obama appoints, I don’t know, a Democrat? to be the FBI director Clinton wins without a doubt.

  23. jamesepowell says:

    this common formulation obscures the role that mainstream media outlets (with the New York Times at the front of the line) have played

    This cannot be said often enough or loud enough. There is no actor nor institution that is more to blame for Trump in the White House than the New York Times.

    • Right. Their coverage may not actually have been the hackiest overall when you take into account all the “news” organisations that exist for the sole purpose of nothing but partisan hackery, but their hackery was certainly the most influential. Not everyone in the country reads the Times, but most other newspapers that people do read take at least some direction from the Times‘ coverage, as do news broadcasts that far, far more people watch. The over 45 vote broke at the last minute for the shitgibbon, and the over 45 vote is also demographically much more likely to watch network news. (Source: I work in TV ratings, and I studied journalism for about a year before switching to political science because I realised I was too introverted to make a good reporter.) If you’re saying that’s a coincidence, I’ve got a bridge in Alaska to sell you.

      Almost all news outlets bear some portion of blame for the outcome of 2016 (a few individual reporters like David Fahrenthold and Kurt Eichenwald, the latter of whom is a jerk but nonetheless an extremely dedicated and meticulous reporter, did at least try to avert the inevitable, and if Fahrenthold doesn’t win a Pulitzer for his reporting this cycle it will be a disgrace; a few left-leaning publications did actually avert the general hackery of the media overall, but weren’t influential enough to make a difference), but the Times‘ share of the influence is by far the greatest, and their coverage was almost universally terrible.

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