Blowing up the anti-Brazile narrative

Democratic political operative (and former interim DNC chair) Donna Brazile.

Is Donna Brazile a self-important traitor to the DNC cause? Or has she been smeared by reporting-by-Twitter?

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald thinks the latter, and has set forth what he says are four falsehoods that have been put forth about Brazile’s  bombshell allegations in her new book that the Clinton campaign had inordinate amounts of control over the key processes during the entirety of the last presidential campaign.

As early as this morning — Sunday, Nov. 5 — CNN is still reporting that Brazile said she had the unilateral power to remove Clinton as the nominee, even though the newspaper that originally reported that claim has had to walk it back (see below). This is important because this claim is  central to some others because it is being used to ridicule Brazile as being an ill-informed megalomaniac with an anti-Clinton agenda. 

Notes Greenwald:

Viral Falsehood #3: Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

[On Nov. 4], the Washington Post published an article reporting on various claims made in Brazile’s new book. The headline, which was widely tweeted, made it seem as though Brazile delusionally believed she had a power which, obviously, she did not in fact possess: “Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee.” The article said Brazile considered exercising this power after Clinton’s fainting spell made her worry that Clinton was physically debilitated, and her campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

But Brazile – as a result of her stinging criticisms and accusations of Clinton, Obama and the DNC – is currently Public Enemy Number One among Democrats in the media. So they seized on this headline to pretend that she claimed the power to unilaterally remove Clinton on a whim, and then used this claim to mercilessly vilify her – the chair of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, last year’s interim head of the DNC, and a long-time Democratic Party operative – as a deluded, insane, dishonest, profiteering, ignorant fabulist who lacks all credibility.

But the entire attack on Brazile was false. She did not claim, at least according to the Post article being cited, that she had the power to unilaterally remove Clinton. The original Post article, buried deep down in the article, well after the headline, made clear that she was referencing a complicated process in the DNC charter that allowed for removal of a nominee who had become incapacitated.

The Post then amended its story to reflect that she made no such absurd claim in her book, but rather noted that “the DNC charter empowered her to initiate replacement of the nominee” and that “if a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.” The Post then added this note to the top of the article:

Journalists on Twitter spent hours yesterday mocking, maligning and attacking the reputation of Brazile for a claim that she simply never made – all because a tweeted headline, which they never bothered to read past or evaluate, made them think they were justified in doing so in order to malign someone who has, quickly and bizarrely, become one of the Democrats’ primary enemies.

Greenwald details three other ways he thinks the narrative of the story about Brazile’s claims in her book have been hijacked by credulous reporting of things reporters see on Twitter and then repeat as received wisdom without bothering to check their veracity, including her claim that the DNC agreement  with Clinton  applied to both the primary and general election — a claim that was allegedly debunked and for which Greenwald says requires a debunking of that debunking.

You can read all of it here.

I have my issues with Greenwald and The Intercept. They have been proof, at times, of the danger when people on the Left let their own beliefs get in the way of good reporting. (Witness Greenwald’s one-time insistence that claims of Russian interference were  a smokescreen to cover up Democratic Party ineptitude in the last presidential election — a claim he has had to abandon as evidence mounts of Russian interference happening on many fronts, including planting inflammatory stories supportive of third-party candidate Jill Stein.)

But Greenwald seems to be into something here. It does appear some Clinton loyalists have been fudging the truth in order to discredit Brazile. 

There are lingering questions about whether the agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was an unseemly grab for power meant to exclude Bernie Sanders and others from an honest nominating process and campaign, or simply a wise candidate saying that if she was going to prop up the DNC financially to benefit the party and down-ticket candidates, she expected some control ensuring the money was spent wisely?

Absent further evidence, those are questions to which he may never have sufficient answers because we can’t read the minds of the people involved and those interpretations may largely depend on whom you supported in the presidential election.