Trump’s Tape Is Disgusting; This Is Much Scarier…Or Should Be

"Hillary is experienced! Hillary is healthy! Hillary is young! Hillary is progressive! Hillary never attacked her husband's victims! You are a chicken!"

“Listen to my voice! Hillary is experienced! Hillary never lies! Hillary is healthy! Hillary never knowingly send e-mails with classified contents! Hillary is young! Hillary’s Middle East policy brought peace and stability!  Hillary never attacked her husband’s victims! You will vote for Hillary! And you are a chicken!”

Blogger-muckraker Glenn Greenwald reports today on leaked strategy e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign that show ongoing coordination between the campaign and journalists to advance her candidacy and place her in power. The natural defense of the Clinton Corrupted to this is predictable (“Everybody does it!), and because it impugns the integrity of the news media, I doubt that Greenwald’s findings will even be widely reported. As he writes in his conclusion,

“All presidential campaigns have their favorite reporters, try to plant stories they want published, and attempt in multiple ways to curry favor with journalists. These tactics are certainly not unique to the Clinton campaign…But these rituals and dynamics between political campaigns and the journalists who cover them are typically carried out in the dark, despite how significant they can be. These documents provide a valuable glimpse into that process.”

The glimpse shows a thoroughly unethical process whereby the Clinton campaign sets out to bias coverage, and unprofessional journalists allow them to do it. Then it is all kept secret, since allowing the public to know how “cozy” (to use Greenwald’s benign word–he is a progressive himself, after all) the relationship between journalists and those whom they claim to covering “objectively” really is would make it far more difficult for the news media to manipulate public opinion and warp democracy.

Among the revelations in Greenwald’s report

1. Lobbying and feting reporters at off-the-record events…

“The Clinton campaign likes to use glitzy, intimate, completely off-the-record parties between top campaign aides and leading media personalities. One of the most elaborately planned get-togethers was described in an April, 2015, memo — produced, according to the document metadata, by deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson — to take place shortly before Clinton’s official announcement of her candidacy. The event was an April 10 cocktail party for leading news figures and top-level Clinton staff at the Upper East Side home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, a fully off-the-record gathering designed to impart the campaign’s messaging:

cocktail1-memo

“Unfriendly” reporters and pundits were not invited. This is what is called “an appearance of impropriety.” Accepting gifts and favors, including parties, from those who a reporter is supposed to cover objectively is a conflict of interest, and should be disclosed. Of course it wasn’t.

2.Recruiting pundits the audience believes are giving objective opinions who are in fact coordinating with the campaign

“Pundits regularly featured on cable news programs were paid by the Clinton campaign without any disclosure when they appeared; several of them are included on this “surrogates” list, including Stephanie Cutter and Maria Cardona:

medialist

Why look! George Stephanopoulis is on a “friendly journalist” list. And…Charlie Rose! Dana Milbank! Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus! Wolf Blitzer! Funny, I thought these were professional journalists, not campaign insiders secretly advancing their candidate, and certainly not “friendly,” which by definition means “biased,” just like “hostile” does.

3. The Clinton campaign prepares stories to have allegedly neutral journalists publish as independent reporting:

One January 2015 strategy document — designed to plant stories on Clinton’s decision-making process about whether to run for president — singled out reporter Maggie Haberman, then of Politico, now covering the election for the New York Times, as a “friendly journalist” who has “teed up” stories for them in the past and “never disappointed” them. Nick Merrill, the campaign press secretary, produced the memo, according to the document metadata:

maggie-540x295

That strategy document plotted how Clinton aides could induce Haberman to write a story on the thoroughness and profound introspection involved in Clinton’s decision-making process. The following month, when she was at the Times, Haberman published two stories on Clinton’s vetting process; in this instance, Haberman’s stories were more sophisticated, nuanced, and even somewhat more critical than what the Clinton memo envisioned.

But they nonetheless accomplished the goal Clinton campaign aides wanted to fulfill of casting the appearance of transparency on Clinton’s vetting process in a way that made clear she was moving carefully but inexorably toward a presidential run.

Read the whole article. It tells us that the government in power is using  unprofessional, partisan, biased and complicit news media figures as its propaganda arm, deceiving and manipulating the public, and elections, in the process. The fact that in this particular ugly instance, the conspiracy will have a salutary effect by blocking the ascent of an even worse candidate than Hillary Clinton does not justify it, make the undermining of our democracy more acceptable, or render the threat to our freedom posed by  arrogant, unethical, conflicted journalists less of a threat.

27 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

27 responses to “Trump’s Tape Is Disgusting; This Is Much Scarier…Or Should Be

  1. I wonder how many proggies we re disappointed that all that anyone could dig up on Trump was some bullshit words hesaid a decade ago?
    Where is the meat? The proof of fraud , bribing public officials. Mere words are all they could find.

    • dragin_dragon

      Michael, that is, as the ‘proggies’ intended, going to be sufficient. There are calls for Trump to step down, which may or may not be successful. In any case, they will be successful, and HRC will be elected. Given the libs propensity for ignoring the Constitution, that may or may not be a final election, but in either case, this country will NEVER again be what it once was. The schools are theirs, the colleges and universities are theirs, the Presidency is theirs and I suspect that they intend to keep it and the press is theirs. It is easy to say that the country has survived worse, but it really hasn’t. Voters who vote based on popularity contests, but little or no information, a press corps who has lost all sense of ethical journalism, schools, colleges and universities that suspend Constitutionally guaranteed rights for the sake of liberal ideals and a simple law requiring an ID to vote being declared ‘racist’. I fear we are done.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    >Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC in advance of the announcement

    Do I miss read this, or does it actually mean that they are telling the reporters what their opinions are going to be?

    Occasionally when reading something like this I wonder how they can sleep at night, then I remember:

    that does look very comfortable.

  3. Patrice

    It’s disgusting and demoralizing and depressing. But I know all of this already about her campaign. Not really anything new. Just like Trump’s vulgar and misogynistic comments. Nothing new. These don’t change the unpleasant reality that one of them will be president. I will still vote for Hillary because Trump’s awfulness is more awful than Hillary’s awfulness.

    • Me too, as you know. But Trump is one individual, while Hillary represents and endorses systemic and democratic corruption. The damage she will do is very different, but we’re gambling that it won’t be worse.

      • Joe Fowler

        I don’t understand why you would prefer systemic and democratic corruption to a containable individual that disgusts you. And I’ve read all of your posts on this, (and pretty much everything else). The PJ O’Rourke quote-“within normal limits” of horribleness only applies if we are comparing individuals. You just stated that Hilary represents and endorses much more than herself-systemic corruption.
        If I have to drink from one of two glasses, and the “normal” one is known to contain poison, but the weird, moldy one may or may not, the choice is easy.
        And yes, I’m comparing this election to drinking poison.

        • crella

          I doubt he’s all that containable. He’s an ignorant hothead who yells before he thinks. He has no self-restraint.

        • It’s a closer call than I originally thought. The fact is that you still have to have someone in the job, and it is a very, very, important and powerful job. Clinton can do it, Trump can’t. Elmo.

  4. J. Houghton

    This post is not a surprise.

    Over the past several years, many media political writers have written volumes on the idea of “debunking” the idea of a liberal biased media. One thing in common in most of these “debunking” articles is that the logic is strained to the point of absurdity and almost to the point of making the articles unreadable.

    Of course there is a liberal bias in media. This bias extends to most of the mainstream news networks. It is in the Hollywood produced movies. It is in TV dramas, TV comedies, and TV talk shows. It is in most of the major print media. Of course there are a few exceptions, but in shear volume, the mass media in the United States is blatantly “in the tank” for the liberal progressive cause on nearly every important issue.

    In my view, the mainstream media played an decisive role in clearing the way for the ascendancy of the Trump candidacy so that he could “kill-off” the legitimate Republican candidates and win the Republican nomination. This guaranteed that HRC… horribly flawed candidate that she is… could look relatively viable in comparison against an obvious blow-hard buffoon who is arguably not even a Republican in any of his known previous issue positions!

    And of course, once Trump had the nomination wrapped up, the media Friends of HRC knew that they could pull the rug out from under Trump at any time! Is it just a coincidence that “Access Hollywood” is an NBC affiliate company and that it had the embarrassing video on file for a decade but just now… and not during the primary process… decides that it should be leaked to the public… just 30 days before the general election?

    While I have no proof, I also have no doubt that the HRC team was acting in full cooperation with friendly operatives with “Access Hollywood?” and NBC to make sure that this video inflicted the greatest damage possible on the gullible, incompetent Trump candidacy. Serves him right! He has it coming!

    But still, back to the original post… yes… it is very scary that the American political process has become so horribly corrupted with academia, the media and the political class all in cahoots to create the illusion that the American people actually have any meaningful say in its own national government. Just sad and scary.

  5. wyogranny

    In the near future and for all time posters, classroom portrait galleries, municipal buildings, libraries, books, textbooks, histories, etc. will show a picture of either Hillary or The Donald at the end of a long line of distinguished Presidents. If that visual doesn’t make you shudder you are part of the problem.

  6. Wayne

    Watched the debate tonight. Trump shrewdly didn’t fall into any traps Hillary’s minions had set for him. His pit bull nature showed and he kept her off balanced. I kept asking myself “This is a presidential debate?” The country will remain divided whatever the outcome is of the election.

  7. zoebrain

    The emails were provided to The Intercept by the source identifying himself as Guccifer 2.0…

    Known for some time to be a Russian Govt entity. However, that may not be the real source. Regardless, the data may be 100% accurate.

    Not all of Guccifer 2.0 product is, but most is. That that is not tends to be specifically targetted, and until recently, very difficult to detect. Recently though they’ve slacked off, some obvious errors, most unprofessional, not like them at all.

    Check second and third sources.

  8. Political propaganda has been king for the last 25 years and the media has been a willing participant.

    Trump is the too good to be true perfect storm blowing the corrupt Clinton dynasty back into the White House with the steady pounding force of a hurricane. The Clinton’s couldn’t have asked, begged, or fabricated a better opposition candidate. What’s really interesting is that as bad as Trump is, Clinton should be consistently at least 25 solid points ahead of him in any respectable political poll but the veil is being lifted on the corrupt Clinton political machine and it’s still being pushed under the carpet in order to keep Trump out of the White House.

    Has anyone noticed that either shortly before or shorty after another Clinton corruption “scandal” comes to light, something comes out of Trumps mouth or his history that diverts attention away from Clinton? Trumps words and actions are insuring that the Clinton Dynasty will occupy the White House.

    The Clinton dynasty will assimilate you, resistance is futile.

    When something is too good to be true…

    • I’m wondering why there are those out there that think that the Clinton political machine is corrupt enough to plan ahead and effectively manipulate the DNC to ensure her nomination and that the Clinton political machine is corrupt enough to plan ahead and effectively manipulate the media to ensure their propaganda messages are put in the faces of the American people and that the Clinton political machine corruption is washed over in the media but yet these same people don’t think that Clinton political machine is corrupt enough to plan ahead and effectively manufacture a perfect storm to blow the Clinton’s back into the White House.

  9. Al Veerhoff

    Let us not forget Fox News and its adulation of Trump. I’m surprised (but I don’t know why) the HRC campaign was licking the boots of so many in the media. That “guest” list at the top looks suspiciously like a wish list, not an actual roster. I see names of too many people who wouldn’t be budged from the skepticism they show toward both candidates.

  10. When you say Fox News, you mostly mean Hannity and O’Reilly. Megan Kelly hardly kowtowed to Trump, nor Chris Wallace. I’d love to know which names on that list you think “wouldn’t be budged from the skepticism they show toward both candidates.” Ron Fornier, but note that he was labeled a lost cause. Jake Tapper, I noted, turned them down. Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz were notably missing as well.

  11. Donald Trump and his supporters have failed to articulate effectively why the Clinton email scandal is so pernicious to the rule of law.

    Clinton supporters and her media apologists have succeeded in framing the issue as being whether or not she potentially compromised the content of classified material by having it on an unsecured network. But that’s not really the issue.

    The real issue – and one that does engage severe criminal liability – is whether she set up a private server for the purpose of taking personal custody over federal government records, so that her official communications as Secretary of State could be shielded from the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act.

    Taking personal custody over federal records would itself be a major issue. Compounding the offence, however, would be the destruction of those federal records in her custody, particularly in the time frame after those very records were subpoenaed by Congress.

    But Trump never used the debate forum to articulate the following phrase: “In her capacity as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton broke the law by setting up a personal sever to give herself exclusive custody over federal records, and then blatantly committed a criminal offence by destroying those federal records, which is an outright and egregious violation of the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act.”

    Moreover, the fact that Hillary Clinton could evade prosecutorial due process, in her current capacity as a mere Presidential nominee, suggests the degree to which she could employ the power of the Presidency to undermine the whole Constitutional system of checks and balances that protect against the abuse of Presidential powers.

    Whether or not Donald Trump is fit for office, it is clear that any potential misconduct in his role as President would be limited by a sturdy system of checks and balances. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump has no powerful network of government insiders and operatives who are ready and able to compromise those systemic checks and balances in the manner that Hillary Clinton can and will if she acquires the powers of the Presidency.

    As a mere Presidential nominee, she was able to curtail, direct, and even frame the scope of the FBI’s investigation of her handling of federal records. Just imagine the power that will be at her command when she ascends to office.

    Do Americans really want to chance the coming firestorm of Constitutional subversion and perversion of due process that awaits a Clinton Presidency? Better an unreliable Trump Presidency, constrained by the rule of law, than a corrupted Clinton Administration systemically unbound by it.

    • 1.The FOIA factor has been sufficiently explained by many and by many forums. Clinton’s surrogate, notably James Carville, have virtually admitted it. The average Clinton follower doesn’t care, doesn’t understand, or believes the ends justify the means.

      2. Donald Trump is incapable of articulating anything. A candidate who had a trained misnd and a facillty with language, like Christie or Cruz, could have eviscerated Clinton on many issues.

      3. Do Americans really want another Richard Nixon? No, but he was a better than average President, except for the fact that he was unstable. Like Trump, just in different ways.

      4. The argument that an unstable, incompetent, ignorant and boorish authoritarian is preferable to a corrupt, cynical and practiced one, that ineptitude and impulsiveness at that level of power and influence are just annoyances to be disciplined and managed by others and that’s all, is bizarre. Smart people are talking themselves into a giant rationalization to justify the irresponsible.

      5. The tools of this approach are misleading adjectives. “Unreliable” means untrustworthy. It still omits dangerous, incompetent, embarrassing to the nation abroad while risking alliances and respect.

      6. Obama has left so much of the nation in a perilous state on so many fronts that a President capable of doing the job well is as crucial as any time since WWII. Clinton isn’t a promising option, but she has a chance, because like Nixon, she wants to go down in history as a successful leader and she possesses relevant knowledge, experience and skills. Trump doesn’t. And he doesn’t know what being a great President is. He has no idea.

      7. It is the only excuse conservatives are giving for supporting Trump: he’s an idiot—how much damage can he do? It’s better to be on a plane being flown by a dog than by a trained pilot who might land you somewhere you don’t want to go.

      8. It is, and has always been a desperate, illogical one.

    • Do Americans really want to chance the coming firestorm of Constitutional subversion and perversion of due process that awaits a Clinton Presidency? Better an unreliable Trump Presidency, constrained by the rule of law, than a corrupted Clinton Administration systemically unbound by it.

      Agreed.

      Maybe in 2020, both parties will nominate honest grown-ups.

  12. What do you call Donald Trump’s method of campaigning?

    Trumpaigning

    Trumpaigning: Is campaigning for an elected political office in a manner that sets up the conditions for a perfect political storm that will propel the OPPOSING candidate to win the election by Trumping everything in the campaign.

  13. Al Veerhoff

    The process is very similar to trepanning. But more complex.

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