As Donna Brazile continues her tour of pandering to wingnuts and professional 2016 primary re-litigators, multiple people have claimed that she’s being treated unfairly by critics who fall outside these categories, because she never said that the primaries were rigged.
This defense, however, completely fails. Not only was the reaction of people like Greenwald inevitable, it was an accurate reading of the Politico excerpt. I don’t know what Brazile intended to argue, and having seen her performance from when she was on the Ineffective Democratic Talking Heads Circuit, it’s entirely possible that her assertion that the 2016 primary was rigged was the product of bad writing and foggy thinking. But it is what she asserted. Let’s go to the text:
Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.
I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process
It’s critical to note here that Brazile didn’t use language that would inevitably be interpreted as saying the primaries were rigged but was more technically defensible, like “rigged the DNC.” She was looking into whether the “nomination process” was rigged, and had an emotionally difficult conversation with Bernie related to her investigation into whether the primaries were rigged. The plain meaning of the phrase “Hillary Clinton’s team rigged the nomination process” is that the DNC materially intervened to help Clinton and hurt Sanders.
Things get even worse for Brazile apologists here:
[continuing directly] as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested.
Brazile clearly and unambiguously states that the DNC hacks provided credible evidence that the primaries were rigged. The DNC hacks, of course, show no such thing. The closest the hacks came to providing “evidence” that the primaries were rigged are some random DNC nobody suggesting a stupid smear of Sanders, being immediately brushed off, and nobody doing anything. There’s nothing there.
For Brazile to lend credence to the claims that the DNC leaks “suggested” that the primaries was rigged is disgusting in itself. And, in addition, it renders one defense of Brazile — “after saying that she had found proof that the primaries were rigged, she goes on to discuss a bunch of DNC-related stuff that isn’t primary rigging” — entirely inoperative. Since there’s not only no evidence that the primaries were rigged but nobody could explain the mechanism by which the DNC could rig the primaries even if it wanted to, by definition the “evidence” that the primaries were rigged consists of non-sequiturs. While it’s not evidence of primary rigging, the stuff Brazile goes on to discuss 1)is considered evidence of primary rigging by the idiots and hacks who assert that the primaries were rigged, and 2)Brazile explicitly says that she finds their arguments credible. So the fact that Brazile’s subsequent discussion is objectively not evidence of primary rigging is neither here not there absent language making it clear that Brazile doesn’t consider it evidence of primary rigging, language which AFICT is absent in the text.
[continuing directly] I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.
In other words, the emails were clear evidence of primary rigging; the only question is whether the emails were authentic. So she needed “solid proof” this primary rigging.
[continuing directly] So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.
Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.
By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.
So, to summarize, 1)Brazile thought the DNC hacks were evidence that the primaries were rigged, and 2)sought “proof” of this rigging, and 3)concluded that she had found “proof” of what she was looking for. She didn’t introduce another target of inquiry before reaching this conclusion — it’s all about the “nominating process” being “rigged” by the “Clinton team.” Nothing in the subsequent text contradicts her straightforward assertions that she thought the nomination process was rigged and had found proof of this.
While we’re here, I was dismayed to see commenters falling for this Greenwald piece, which uses the classic lawyer’s trick of litigating side issues to insulate the central claim from criticism. Sure, there was some sloppy reporting, and there’s nothing wrong with responding to it. But the point, which he reiterated while doing propaganda for Trump on Tucker Carlson’s House of Smarm, is to suggest that any criticism of Brazile is ipso facto motivated by bad faith. But this is silly. Someone may have misstated the process by which Brazile thought her abjectly stupid idea that Clinton should be replaced by Biden, but that’s irrelavant to the truth of Brazile’s claim that the “nomination process” was “rigged.” For obvious reason, Greenwald wants to preemptively paint anyone criticizing Brazile on her central claim as being motivated by bad faith, because the alternative is defending the claim on the merits when it’s indefensible.
But while Greenwald is obviously wrong on the question of whether the primaries were rigged, his reading of what Brazile wrote is correct. She threw out a claim that the primaries were rigged to sell books. And it’s hardly an incidental claim — as spiderdan observes in his own fine summary, “[r]emove all mentions of Bernie and her excerpt wouldn’t even warrant a blogpost on Medium.” The unenforced agreement made with the DNC is old and not particularly interesting or important news. Her assertion that the primaries were rigged is the only reason people are discussing her book, and for her to lend credibility to this false conspiracy theory is really, really bad behavior.