Both based on anonymous Democratic insiders, both authored by Lisa Lerer.
This post is an in-depth study of Lerer’s work during the 2016 Democratic primary. A remembrance of how badly corporate-owned media treated Bernie Sanders and his supporters.
I discuss this entire article in this video:
(This post has been re-published by John Laurits and Naked Capitalism.)
Updated 2017-02-16: Based on feedback at Naked Capitalism, I’ve changed all instances of “left wing” and “left leaning” to “corporate”.
AP Article: DNC Chairperson: Establishment Tom Perez versus progressive Keith Ellison
On February 1, the Associated Press published an article announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of DNC Chair candidate, Tom Perez. Buried in paragraph nine of the article, 24 days before the election, is a declaration that establishment favorite Perez has an unassailable lead:
Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison.
Democratic strategists with knowledge of the chairman selection process say Perez has as much as a 66-member lead among the 447 members of the party who will vote on the next chairman at the party convention in late February. In total, 304 members have indicated who they’re backing.
The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the vote counting.
I was made aware of this story by The Young Turks newest correspondent, Nomiki Konst, who is covering the DNC chair candidate forums. Konst reports that no AP reporter has been present at any of the forums. (This is her analysis of the AP article.)
As Konst suggests, there are currently 14 candidates, each with their own group of supporters. As candidates drop out, their supporters will shift to different candidates. Calling the race at this moment is premature, which is a charitable interpretation, given that the only sources are “anonymous Democratic strategists.”
Perez, former Labor Secretary under the Obama administration, entered the race on December 15, and has raised 73% of his donations from small contributions. In a video shown on the Jimmy Dore Show, Perez is solidly in support of big donations to the DNC, no matter how veiled his statements are (“You don’t go to a knife fight with a spoon.”). Despite a vision speaking of unification, progressive values, and grassroots, Perez can claim no strong progressive endorsements. As described by Glenn Greenwald:
It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric, and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.
According to Konst, Perez is also the only candidate who refuses to talk with TYT, and she and her network are the target of rumors being spread by Perez’s campaign. Update 2/11: Konst got an eight minute interview with Perez on the final day of the DNC forums, where he confirms everything stated by Greenwald above.
The most prominent progressive candidate, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, entered the race on November 15, raising 98% of his donations from small contributions. Distinguishing himself from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Ellison is the only candidate who can claim both prominent establishment and progressive endorsements, including progressive leaders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and establishment stalwarts Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and John Lewis.
As elaborated in the Baltimore Sun’s endorsement:
Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota and front runner in the DNC chair race, has impressive credentials. He is an avowed progressive, championing worker rights, a minimum wage increase, Wall Street reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights during his decade in Congress. He knows the issues of rural and working class communities who feel left behind by politicians in D.C., and will work to serve them. And as the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Mr. Ellison has a personal understanding of the effect of today’s attacks on minorities.
Ellison has, however, made moves disappointing to some progressives. He endorsed a decidedly establishment congressional candidate in Florida over the progressive alternative, and as potential chair, would not rule out big money donations to the DNC, stating that he would put the decision to a vote…likely resulting in big money donations.
AP article: Democratic nominee for president: Establishment Hillary Clinton versus progressive Bernie Sanders
After hearing the Perez-Ellison story, I was immediately reminded of a similar Associated Press story about Clinton and Sanders from June 6, 2016. Like the above article, this one, written by four co-authors, unequivocally states:
Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination….
[Clinton became] the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.
The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted…. While superdelegates can change their minds, those counted in Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.
Once again, anonymous Democratic insiders “eager to wrap up the primary” decided the election was over, and the Associated Press obediently trumpeted it as truth. This time, only twenty four hours before six states, having a population of more than 50 million people, including two of the largest (California and New Jersey) were to vote in the Democratic primary, the AP said that finally, once and for all, Hillary Clinton is truly inevitable.
(Interestingly, according to Zero Hedge, the original wording of the final quoted sentence was, “While superdelegates will not formally cast their votes for Clinton until the party’s July convention in Philadelphia, all those counted in her tally have unequivocally told the AP they will do so.”)
The AP is just doing their job. They’re just reporting the news. Right? They’re not blatantly corrupt. But it sure does seem like they’re allowing themselves to be used by those who are.
Downplaying the announcement and its potential effect on voters, Clinton said,
“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
Where did this “burst of last-minute support from superdelegates” come from? According to Benchmark Poltics, CNN’s John King reported that the Clinton campaign had around forty superdelegates ready and waiting to declare their support, but were urged by the campaign to hold off.
In the email sent out to supporters bragging about this announcement, this image was displayed:
The file name of this image file is
secret-win-V2-060416c_02.png, implying it was created two days before the article was published. It will likely never be known if the Clinton campaign conspired with the Associated Press, but at the very least, it is a spit in the eye of every Sanders supporter.
Within hours, this one story exploded into hundreds around the globe (because, according to the Associated Press, “More than half of the world’s population sees our articles every day.”). Despite California’s record breaking 2.3 million new voter registrations, 1.4 million fewer people voted in comparison to 2012 levels.
Similar to the difference between Perez and Ellison, Clinton received around 19% of her contributions from small donations, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 70%. Importantly, these figures completely disregard money from super PACs and the unethical-but-technically-legal money funneled through state Democratic Party coffers, both of which Bernie Sanders refused to take advantage of.
As summarized by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:
This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.
That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is.
(Here is further analysis of the AP Clinton article by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.)
Lisa Lerer, journalist for the Associated Press
While I knew both stories were published by the Associated Press, it was Jane Sanders who alerted me that both were written by the same author, Lisa Lerer.
Like many corporate journalists, Lerer’s writing during the 2016 Democratic primaries is consistently suspect. Direct statements by often-anonymous Democratic insiders are uncritically presented as truth; Hillary Clinton is unrealistically lifted up and both Bernie Sanders and his supporters are unfairly criticized and minimized; reports of Clinton’s primary victories at first impression seem balanced, but in actuality entirely ignore the difficulties faced by voters and the existence of confusing, questionable, unethical, and blatantly illegal practices, let alone the influence those practices may have had on the outcome.
(Coincidentally or not, according to Wikileaks, Lisa Lerer was one of many prominent mainstream media journalists to attend a private, off-the-record dinner at John Podesta’s house, soon before Clinton announced her candidacy. Breitbart elaborates.)
All articles that follow are written or co-authored by Lisa Lerer. “The author” means Lerer. “The authors” means Lerer and one or more co-authors.
Omission: Pretending primary wins by Clinton were exclusively because of her strengths. Pretending that voting was smooth and timely for all voters.
February 2, 2016: Clinton wins Iowa, campaigns turn to New Hampshire
Clinton defeated Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history, the state party said. Sanders said his campaign was still reviewing the results and did not concede….
Democrats spent much of the day wrestling over the Iowa results. Sanders’ campaign declared victory even in defeat…
Setting aside the title that gives no indication of how close the race was, hidden in these vague suggestions of unresolved results are serious discrepancies, any one of which could have influenced the historically thin margin of a quarter percentage point. According to the Des Moines Register,
There have been widespread questions in Iowa and nationally about the accuracy of the counts reported on caucus night, which saw the second-highest number of participants and the closest result in Democrats’ caucus history.
Even with the updated numbers, it remains unclear which candidate won the popular vote. Party officials, following tradition, declined to release the raw vote numbers.
Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire told The Des Moines Register the day after last week’s caucuses that no review would be conducted, and that Clinton’s narrow victory over Sanders was final.
Several discrepancies were reported in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
It also doesn’t help the optics that the state party chairwoman drove around for years in a car with “HRC2016” license plates.
Coin tosses decided the winner in at least a dozen precincts, and the Register declared,
What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. [T]he refusal [of the Iowa Democratic Party] to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy….
[T]oo many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.
February 20, 2016: Clinton turns back Sanders challenge with Nevada victory
In an article that looks once again more towards upcoming primaries than at what happened in Nevada, the authors give no hints of the difficulties faced by caucus-goers. They do say this:
The 57,000-member Culinary Workers Union didn’t endorse in the election, but it circulated literature ensuring its members knew where and when to caucus and had staff ensure they were able to get to their sites Saturday.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called casino bosses to ensure that workers would get paid time off to caucus. He also reached out to the union to try to encourage the group to push their members to caucus, even without a formal endorsement, according to aides.
Harry Reid’s “encouraging” phone call to the head of Nevada’s most powerful union contributed to Clinton overwhelmingly winning all six of the state casino caucuses, a significant factor in winning the state.
The Democratic Party was scrambling for volunteers only ten days out, increasing the chances for chaos, and despite turnout being a third less than it was in 2008, chaos was indeed a reality, as if turnout were record shattering.
There was no anticipation for the large turnout, nor was there sufficient equipment to register people in a timely manner. We had five laptop computers for hundreds of people and were short staffed. As a result, the caucus meeting started an hour late.
As a precinct captain, I was given minimal training through a photocopied information guide. I wasn’t given a copy of the detailed procedures until the week leading up to the caucus, and there was no one present at the caucus to answer questions that might arise, except for other volunteers who weren’t sure of procedures themselves. When the first vote was taken after the initial instructions were given and letters were read, many wanted to leave. Some had been already been there for nearly four hours.
There were an enormous number of illegal, inappropriate, and confusing occurrences reported by Nevada caucus-goers on sites such as Reddit, US Uncut, The Reno Gazzette, and Attn.
June 6, 2016: Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary
From the article:
Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary on Sunday, putting her within striking distance of capturing her party’s nomination… Clinton is now less than 30 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.
Beyond the purposefully misleading count including superdelegates, this short article leaves out any hint of the incredible hardships endured by Puerto Rico voters.
There were 2,300 polling stations in 2008. In May of 2016, the number of stations was scheduled to be 1,500. On primary day, June 5, the actual number was 440. Funding for administering the elections was halved from 2012 levels, polls were open only for seven hours, and voters had to go to two different locations to vote in the national and local elections. While all or most poll workers for Clinton were properly certified, many for Sanders were not. Finally, an inmates’ rights group reportedly threatened prisoners to vote for Hillary Clinton or they would be killed.
On primary day, only 90,000 ballots were cast, despite, as reported by Metro PR,
…in principle, about 700,000 voters were expected to participate in the Democratic primary on the island. However, following the reduction of schools and colleges, the new Projection is around 300 thousand.
There were 92% fewer voters than expected “in principle” and 70% fewer than the updated projection.
Minimizing Sanders and his supporters
March 26, 2016: Sanders wins 3 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead
Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.
[The] results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead…
Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.
This was one of the more successful days of his campaign, where Sanders won all three states, gaining 104 pledged delegates; doubling Clinton’s 53. The author minimizes these wins to nothing, suggesting Sanders won only because Clinton let him, and that the victories were fruitless.
June 3, 2016: Sanders’ campaign adventure takes him from Hamilton to Rome
(Co-authored by Catherine Lucey)
He’s lagging in delegates and votes, but Bernie Sanders is still on one excellent campaign adventure.
In the past few months the Vermont senator and his wife, Jane, have traveled to Rome to attend a conference and met Pope Francis, toured Mount Rushmore and rallied supporters in sunny Puerto Rico. He’s scored seats for the Broadway musical sensation “Hamilton” and hobnobbed with celebrities at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Earlier this week, he dropped in on the final game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals….
Of course, Sanders is far from the first candidate to enjoy the perks of the trail [but f]ew candidates have taken as many side excursions as Sanders. In part that’s because they fear looking like they’re focused on activities other than winning voters….
Some of the activities do not seem like standard fare for a Vermont senator known for his workaholic ways. In his decades in Congress, Sanders has rarely attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a star-studded annual Washington affair. This year, he was seated at a front-row table with his wife, where he mingled with Morgan Freeman and Aretha Franklin….
To date, former Secretary of State Clinton has spent considerably less time on this kind of entertainment or travel. She has not made a foreign trip since starting her campaign. Presumptive Republican front-runner Donald Trump has not done as many side activities, though he has used his campaign to promote his products, including a Trump hotel under construction in Washington and a newly renovated golf course in Scotland, which he will visit later this month….
Clinton backers say they don’t begrudge Sanders his fun. “Great, he wants to have his YOLO moments, go ahead,” said Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh, using the acronym for the expression “you only live once.”
Clinton, Marsh added, “actually is trying to be president of the United States.”
Sanders, an unusually earnest and genuine politician, is painted as someone only on the campaign trail “for the perks.” His choosing to travel 40 hours to Italy for a five minute meeting with the pope, days before the critical New York primary, was not a spiritual journey, but just “a perk.”
It is strongly suggested that the only adult in the room, the only one actually “trying to be president” (despite spending Easter vacation with her family, instead of campaigning in those three states) is Hillary Clinton.
This is the work of an “unbiased journalist.” This is the story that the Associated Press decides to call “The Big Story.”
Outright hit piece
May 19, 2016: Trump more than happy to agree Sanders is getting a raw deal
(Co-authored by Jonathan Lemire)
Sanders’ path to the nomination has narrowed to the nearly impossible and campaign donations have plummeted.
But that reality hasn’t swayed Sanders, whose heavy emphasis on party functionaries and arcane political rules is a notable change for a candidate who’s long focused on curbing income inequality, regulating Wall Street and eradicating the influence of corporate money in politics.
Sanders and Trump have both seen themselves as victims of a system stacked against them by the establishment [and while Trump is over it because he’s now winning] Sanders and his supporters are simmering, if not boiling over, with that grievance now.
“I’ve been receiving phone calls from all over the U.S. — profane, sexist, they threatened my life, they’ve threatened my family,” said Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange. “I feel threatened everywhere I go.”
In Nevada [at the Nevada Democratic State Convention], chair throwing, shouted profanities and even death threats to party leaders marked a meeting of the state party on Saturday. Sanders supporters accused Lange of stacking the rules against them. But those rules were approved by the state party’s full board weeks ago, party officials said.
Setting aside Nevada for a moment, this article portrays Bernie Sanders as someone who has abandoned his principles in a desperate attempt to grasp onto “arcane political rules” to do whatever it takes to beat Hillary Clinton. This is the exact opposite of the previous article, where it’s suggested that he’s not trying to win at all.
In Nevada, despite the best efforts of John Ralston, a chair was lifted and immediately put down. None were thrown. Death threats were indeed delivered to Roberta Lange by at least some Bernie Sanders supporters (as reported by Rolling Stone and Jezebel), but there is no proof that any attendees of the convention perpetrated these threats. Even granting that there were thousands of threats, Lange’s suggestion that the Sanders campaign incited them, let alone the nonexistent violence at the convention, is a tendentious stretch.
According to multiple first person accounts (here, here, here, here) and unedited videos of the event (Heavy, Reddit, Adryenn Ashley, the latter listed under “Nevada Democratic Convention livestream”), there was no violence and every voice vote went questionably against Sanders supporters. Rules that were indeed approved weeks before the convention we’re not voted on until the convention, a full half hour before the scheduled start time, when unsurprisingly, Clinton supporters were all seated. Finally, the results of the convention itself were affected by the 64 Bernie Sanders delegates whose credentials were challenged (compared to the 8 challenged Clinton delegates), resulting in a Clinton margin of victory of 30.
(To address one more important point not brought up in the article: The “vandalism” charge at the protest the following day, was sidewalk chalk, written on both the sidewalk and the side of the Nevada Democrats building. According to Nevada state law, this is considered “graffiti,” not vandalism. This and many other articles leave out the detail of sidewalk chalk, allowing the reader to assume that a stronger form of destruction and criminality was committed by Sanders supporters.)
Of Bernie Sanders’ tens of millions of supporters, an extremely small percentage threatened Roberta Lange (potentially criminal), wrote grafitti with sidewalk chalk (barely if at all criminal), and arguably acted inappropriately such as by shouting and cursing (not criminal). Conversely, in order to win at any cost, a large percentage, if not all, of the Nevada State Democratic Party leaders who support Hillary Clinton preemptively used their positions of power to take advantage of and abuse the entirety of the Nevada Bernie Sanders delegation for twelve straight hours.
Citizens’ Media TV
The Nevada State Democratic Convention is the reason Citizens’ Media TV exists. Adryenn Ashley and I met because I was watching her live broadcasts that day, that she and other state delegates were filming at the convention. Adryenn has a large following on Facebook and Twitter, and she shared her own (and everyone else’s) livestreams to millions of people. She is a major reason that the rumors of violence and vandalism of that day did not take hold as strongly as they could have. She filmed the chair being lifted (it occurs at around 4min:30secs). It is her footage that John Ralston tried to twist into violence. Not only did she broadcast that day, she continued reporting on the event, using the raw footage as evidence to tell the truth.
After witnessing how powerfully Adryenn used social media, I contacted her to see if we could take what she did that day to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Myself and a handful of other correspondents both in (Bernie Sanders delegates) and out (supporters and protestors) of the convention hall did the reporting with Facebook Live-streams, and she, from her home in Nevada, personally assisted all of us. She again used her reach to show the world what really happened, from our points of view. Not the narrative. Our coverage reached 1.4 million people, including just under 400,000 direct views.
Excusing and apologizing for Clinton’s health and odd behavior
The author has twice notably excused and apologized for Clinton’s behavior and health. First, after a remarkably odd encounter in a coffee shop, where Clinton, in the midst of answering softball questions by Lerer and other reporters, jerked her head suddenly and repeatedly for a few seconds. Lerer, who was caught on camera as taken by surprise, explained the encounter as “an innocuous exchange.”
Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds…. Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures.
Pretending that Clinton’s behavior was not, at the very least, really strange, is strange. This is what you expect from campaigns, not journalists.
Second, referring to Clinton’s stumbling into a van after a September 11 event, the authors write:
At least part of the blame goes to a simple cause: Clinton’s stubborn unwillingness to follow the advice of doctors, family and friends.
“This is just who she is. She is a workhorse. No matter who tells her, her husband can tell her. It doesn’t matter. Chelsea can tell her,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who served as chairman of her 2008 presidential campaign. “You’re not going to change her at this point in her life.”
After her Friday pneumonia diagnosis, Clinton was determined to “power through,” she told CNN late Monday.
Becoming almost amusingly self-aware, it continues,
Her supporters now are trying to turn the episode into a badge of honor — and a credential for the White House.
“This is a woman who works 20 hours a day and comes into contact with tens of thousands of people and you pick up germs and viruses and things like that and you get exhausted,” said Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. “If you don’t get a cold or a virus or the flu or pneumonia in a campaign, you weren’t working hard enough.”
In other words, Hillary Clinton’s only fault is that she just cares too much.
(Is there something wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health, that she could not handle being the president? Probably not. I have no idea. And neither does she.)
The day after Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, the authors described the loss as “stunning,” further confirming how out of touch they and the Democratic Party are, or pretend to be, about the sentiments of the electorate.
Many corporate journalists behave more like public relations, crisis management, and hit-piece writers than impartial journalists. Their true employers seem to be the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. which really means that they’re true bosses are the donors. Certainly not the Associated Press, an organization that describes itself as “the definitive source for news.”
That journalists like this are employed by supposedly reputable news organizations, demonstrates how compromised they have become and how far astray the public has been led. While there is plenty of real journalism done by these individuals and their employers, it is fatally undermined by the Democratic stenography and apologism that is consistently featured as the top story of the day, which in turn is treated as incontrovertible fact.
With each passing day, these “news” organizations seem less and less interested in furthering the art of journalism, and instead are slowly and permanently transforming into unthinking tools for their powerful, nearly omnipotent owners, whose only goal is to crush dissent and win at any cost.