Democrats Should Have Paid Attention To Warnings About Clinton Before Handing Her The Nomination

Hillary Down

I had been arguing for many months before the Democratic nomination that it was very risky for the Democrats to nominate Hillary Clinton. In addition to her many other faults, I argued that the email and Foundation scandals would greatly impair the ability of the Democrats to win the presidency, and would also likely also greatly decrease their chances of winning control of the Senate. Clinton apologists both denied the significance of the scandals, and denied that it would have any bearing on the election. For a while it appeared that it didn’t matter. While Clinton would probably be well behind any other Republican, she had been able to lead Trump (and as of now I think she will still pull it off). However, while Clinton doesn’t understand why she isn’t far ahead, her lead is now precariously small. A single gaffe, an unexpectedly decent performance by Trump in the debates, another revelation from Wikileaks, or any number of other items could now shift the election to Trump. Plus the Democrats’ chances of taking control of the Senate have dropped tremendously.

There are multiple reasons for this, but an op-ed by Thomas Patterson in the The Los Angeles Times provides further evidence  that I was right with my warnings in largely blaming the email scandal should Clinton lose:

If Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election in November, we will know the reason. The email controversy did her candidacy in. But it needed a helping hand — and the news media readily supplied that.

My analysis of media coverage in the four weeks surrounding both parties’ national conventions found that her use of a private email server while secretary of State and other alleged scandal references accounted for 11% of Clinton’s news coverage in the top five television networks and six major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Excluding neutral reports, 91% of the email-related news reports were negative in tone. Then, there were the references to her character and personal life, which accounted for 4% of the coverage; that was 92% negative.

The author underestimates the importance of the email and other scandals, and gives Clinton far too much credit for her record considering that she has been wrong on virtually every major decision of her career,only to admit she made a mistake years later. Between the email and Foundation scandals, Hillary Clinton has been found to have violated policy with regards to using a home server rather than a government email system, failed to turn over email for archiving which was sent over personal email, destroyed over half the email falsely claiming it was personal, and failed to disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation as she agreed to prior to her confirmation.

The State Department Inspector General report showed that Clinton not only violated the rules in effect, but that she failed to cooperate with the investigation and tried to cover up her actions.  FBI Director James Comey further showed how she acted irresponsibly, and how many of the statements she has made in public and Congressional testimony over the past year have been false. Clinton unethically made rulings on multiple occasions regarding parties which contributed to the Foundation and/or made unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton. I’ve previously discussed the Clinton Foundation scandals in greater detail, including here and here. I’ve recently noted how both fact checkers and ethicists viewed the scandals and Clinton’s violations of the ethics agreements which she entered into before becoming Secretary of State, while Common Cause called for an independent audit of the Clinton Foundation well before her nomination.

There was good reason for the media to cover this story. Clinton predictably made it worse for herself as she tried to coverup information, resulting in facts slowly coming out from news cycle to news cycle. She further made matters worse by lying about the matter, and then repeating the same lies when confronted by the fact checkers. This is what caused the story to remain dominant in the news. Plus, regardless of whether it is a good thing, we knew before Clinton was nominated that the media prefers to cover scandals as opposed to complicated matters of policy. As Patterson also wrote:

In today’s hypercompetitive media environment, journalists find it difficult to resist controversies. Political scientist W. Lance Bennett explored this phenomenon around Trump’s 2011 allegation that President Obama was not a native-born American. Trump’s “birther” statements were seized upon by cable outlets and stayed in the headlines and on newscasts for days. Veteran CNN correspondent Candy Crowley even interviewed Trump, who was then not a political figure at all. She justified it by saying on air: “There comes a point where you can’t ignore something, not because it’s entertaining …. The question was, ‘Is he driving the conversation?’ And he was.” In truth, the news media were driving the conversation, as they have with Clinton’s emails.

Nominating Hillary Clinton with all her baggage would be like the Republicans nominating Richard Nixon after  knowing about his role in Watergate. It was a remarkably foolish thing to do, and the Democrats now risk paying the price. In contrast, Bernie Sanders polled far better than Clinton did against Donald Trump and other potential Republican candidates. He very likely would also have won the Democratic nomination if not for a system heavily tilted towards helping Clinton and stopping insurgent candidates. Plus if Sanders were the nominee, there would be no scandals to dominate the campaign, and we would definitely be talking about issues.

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16 Comments

  1. 1
    Mike Hatcher says:

    You nailed it again with: "..the media prefers to cover scandals as opposed to complicated matters of policy."  I would love for the media to get into the weeds about the Trump charity and bribing Pam Bondi. While I know of these stories, I don't know if it is merely another example of how bad Trump's character is, or if there is enough there to send someone to jail. No, instead of feeding me such details, almost all of them want to spend their time running stories about skittles, drumming up fake outrage and controversy were none really exists. IMO that is just lazy, garbage journalism.

  2. 2
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Clarification, I know a bribe is not a complex policy issue, but the point is to get into in depth investigation rather than superficial nonsense. We get way too much nonsense and far too little depth from the media.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have done major stories recently on Trump Foundation issues. Other than the Pam Bondi bribe, those stories are getting into more obscure violations of tax laws which don’t make for exciting coverage. The Pam Bondi bribe is the type of scandal which the media does love to cover, but the story is limited. Both sides deny it, and once the original story broke there wasn’t much more to day about it. It is not like the Clinton Foundation scandals where there are is a pattern of multiple abuses, and information dripped out over time. Most likely the media will continue to look into Trump and there will be more stories.

  4. 4
    Basalat Raja says:

    I think they DID listen to all the signs. I also think they figured that they could pull in disaffected Trump-hating Conservatives. That is why now have a Democratic VP nominee who is occasionally against abortion. Tim Kaine vs Elizabeth Warren or Bernie himself pretty much shows what the intention was. They were pretty sure that they could just ignore liberals and Progressives or scare them enough with Trump that it wouldn't matter. The best-laid plans of men and mice….

  5. 5
    Luis A. Nunes says:

    …then, the winner will be the one that hides more scandals, corruption, lies, hate, and sneaks more

    Question:

    How come someone with such qualifications team, have courage to look Bernie and American people in the eyes?  

  6. 6
    idic5 says:

    Odonnell reported when we ( SDs) cd have done something about this. He reported on a study of clinton's past campaigns that show her not being able to hold a polling lead and not able to reverse a bad polling trend. I gave this to the Super delegates, all of them , many times, and sai\d it was on them if she loses.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2Xdh2hu51o

  7. 7
    Josh says:

    VOTE JILL STEIN FOR PRESIDENT.

    She is the only Good for Humanity kind of candidate and she would be a blessing to this war torn world!

  8. 8
    Stephanie Monaghan says:

    The DNC and the establishment thought that on top of all of the scandal, the lies, the #ClintonBodyCount piling up right in our faces, the #ElectionFraud, the #Wikileaks proof of utter corruption, the disgusting arrogance of someone #TooBigToJail and #AboveTheLaw, that they'd still be able to drag her rotting corpse across the finish line by hook or by crook. It's going to be devastating to watch the #QueenOfCorruption lose to the #OrangeBuffoon, but serves them right for trying to undermine democracy and install a candidate that is as conniving, corrupt, and contemptible as the day is long. 

    #FuckHillary #NeverHillary #NeverTrump #BernDownTheDNC #BringBernieBack 

  9. 9
    Del Ehresman says:

    I had bad feelings in the early and middle parts of 2015, fearing the dirty tricks and millions of Koch (et al) $$ that might be spent by GOP folks to tarnish Hillary.  I didn't know how prescient I was, though it's not clear what role the GOP had in all this — aiding Putin and the Russian hackers???   

    Even after the Democratic Convention, it was clear that Bernie would be a better candidate who could easily defeat the Donald.

    Then came more and more revelations (re both Hillary and Trump).  Sigh.  

    The only thought and advice I have now:  think of all the nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.  From now to 2024 . . .

    Another thing to keep in mind:  Hillary's life and activities have been public and open to a lot of scrutiny.  Thus much of the tarnish on Hillary's jewels.  Trump's life and activities have been in closed conference rooms not open to public scrutiny, but more and more is being discovered about his dastardly deeds. 

    A final thing in the forefront of my brain:  Julian Assange's promise (threat?) to reveal stuff in October.  How will that play out?

     

  10. 10
    Kathleen Schmidheini says:

    I e-mailed every Florida Democratic Politician  warning them.  I was ignored.  I also notice the Democratic went against all Progressive Candidates in our State  and all lost to the Establishment picks which are all going to lose to Republicans for Congress and Senate.  It is almost like they are on a suicide mission.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, Democrats have been repeatedly been running Republican-lite candidates and losing. Now they nominated one for president. At this point I think they will pull out a victory, but if they had a decent candidate they would not be in a tight race against Donald Trump. I also wonder what the Democratic Party will be like after led by Hillary Clinton.

  12. 12
    Janet Faber says:

    The author is wrong in assuming Hillary's vast unpopularity is due mainly to her email scandal.  While her reckless carelessness with classified info did not lend her campaign any credibility, it was her compliance with election fraud in the primary and then her promotion of DWS after she was forced to resign which turned the tide massively against her.  Progressives and milleniels who might have swallowed their anger and stayed the party line were further enraged by her callous choice of Kaine as VP.  Her whole turn-off message was "Nya Nya Nya We don't need you progressives and millenials, we'll win with Republicans who are dissatisfied with Trump."  Ok, Hillary, good luck with that, and let's see how you do without us!  You made your own bed so lie in it.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    “The author is wrong in assuming Hillary’s vast unpopularity is due mainly to her email scandal.”

    There is no assumption that her unpopularity is due to the email scandal. It is due to multiple factors. The email scandal did help remind people of her dishonesty, her terrible record with regards to government transparency, and her attitude that the rules don’t apply to her.

    “it was her compliance with election fraud in the primary and then her promotion of DWS after she was forced to resign which turned the tide massively against her.”

    That sure didn’t help matters, but she was already very unpopular by this point. But do agree that both this and the choice of Kaine further reduced the chances that progressives would support her.

  14. 14
    Mike Hatcher says:

    Perhaps her cool interview with Zach Galifianakis between two ferns can turn the tide for her. While I admit there were a couple of funny parts, I really felt it was sad. For someone like me that is so anti-Hillary, I actually did feel sorry for her, Zach was just really mean through most of it. Of course that is the "theme" of two ferns, Zach being mean, however, if you watch Obama's between two ferns, Obama was ready, he hit back hard in a playful way. Hillary just seemed to be an unprepared punching bag. Did she not do her homework?  Did she not know what she was getting into? Just mostly sad. Maybe the plan was for her to get toughened up for what Trump might do Monday. But I doubt that was the case.

  15. 15
    Mack Salamasond says:

    //Plus if Sanders were the nominee, there would be no scandals to dominate the campaign, and we would definitely be talking about issues.//

    Interesting claim. I don't think the press is interested in covering issues. If Sanders were the nominee, we'd be talking about socialism, and whether it was communism or not. 

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Clinton’s campaign tried the red-baiting. It didn’t work.

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