Home / General / A campaign’s relationship with the press should be instrumental, and other lessons

A campaign’s relationship with the press should be instrumental, and other lessons


While we’re venting at the process that presented us with a wide, diverse array of talented candidates and landed on…Joe Biden, for next time it’s worth considering some of the strange hires made by what ended up being the last non-Biden candidate standing. Here’s Bernie’s press secretary earning a Phillipe Reines Award For Counterproductive Media Relations:

“Why are you SILENCING us by having some snake appear on your podcast instead of us? The fact that you invited us months ago and I won’t return your emails is central to my point!” This is…not what you’re looking for in a press secretary. And why would you care about a candidate who dropped out last month appearing on a podcast? (Well, presumably, because you’ve decided that her failure to give you her endorsement when you never tried to get it when it could have mattered is the reason you couldn’t win a single county in Michigan or Florida, but moving right along.)

One of the regrettable by-products of Bernie’s fatal decision to run as a factional rather than majority candidate is that his senior campaign staff was littered with Stein ’16 people. One should be pretty wary of soliciting the paid advice of people who were indifferent-at-best to the liberalism v. fascism question in the last election, especially if you’re trying to win the nomination of a party the vast majority of whose members do not consider the question difficult. If someone was really good at some specific job, it shouldn’t be disqualifying in itself. But the prominent de facto Trump supporters in the Sanders campaign were all massively incompetent. Gray, randomly lashing out at candidates who dropped out last month while failing at the basic test of getting free media for her candidate from venues more likely to appeal to the typical Dem primary voter than alt-right MMA podcasts, is the most obvious example. And then there’s Mr. David Sirota. Here’s how he spent the last day of the campaign:

Interestingly, because he’s…the kind of unhinged loon who will go on angry Twitter rants about a random liberal think tank head seeing some cute bunnies when he’s not writing essays about how there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Sam Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, Sanders had long since tuned Sirota out:

Senior aides familiar with the debate preparation taking place before Tulchin and Sirota arrived have a different version of events. Sanders had been warming to the idea of going after Biden in the preparatory sessions, but grew more tentative after the visit. He was skeptical of shaping his message based on the advice of any pollster, and had been growing frustrated with Sirota’s shoot-from-the-hip approach for some time.


On some specific occasions, like Teachout’s and Turner’s respective op-eds blasting Biden for corruption and lack of respect for Black civil rights, Sanders’ lack of trust in Sirota again played a role in stepping away from those lines of criticism. Sanders suspected that Sirota had been involved in authoring the columns, prompting him to reject the arguments, according to aides familiar with the matter.  

On the one hand, this is to Bernie’s credit. On the other hand, what the hell was he doing on your campaign in the first place? Is “spending 12 hours a day doing Google name searches and picking fights with 20-follower randos on Twitter” a niche you really need to be investing resources in?

It also seems safe to say that Nina Turner, who was in charge of the disastrous South Carolina campaign that pretty much singlehandely gave the nomination to Biden, was…dispensable. Come to think of it, I’d say “don’t hire someone who within the last five years hasn’t been able to decide whether they prefer liberalism or fascism to work on your Democratic primary campaign” is a pretty good heuristic, actually. Now back to my pleasant “what if both Bernie and Biden had decided to sit this one out” counterfactuals — what a beautiful world that would be.

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