The DNC’s email leak has been quick to hit headlines but slow to be understood. With thousands of emails released, the full extent of the damage hasn’t been realized yet, even though the emails are open the public and searchable for any terms.
One email shows a possible strategy for disrupting the Sanders’ campaign; creating rumors that he is an atheist. Atheists are one of the least electable groups in the US, but so are socialists, in which case it’s no surprise that Sanders won in one state where the strategy was discussed and lost by a hair in the other. For the record, Sanders has never publicly claimed to be an atheist (I’m disappointed, too, guys.)
Other emails released barely mention Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Jim Webb. If those names are unfamiliar, they were the other Democrats who took part in the beginning of the primary process. Less than a dozen hits turn up in searches for Chafee and Webb combined, and while O’Malley is mentioned more than the other two there doesn’t seem to be animosity toward his campaign the way there is inherently in emails about the Sanders campaign.
There is a LOT to look through in the email leak. Some of it is as boring as travel reports from Obama’s motorcade and some of it is as eyebrow-raising as responding to Hillary Clinton’s campaign email stating “I am going to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States” (which was sent in May) with “After they get nervous for our strong stand against Bernie violence, Brooklyn suddenly grows a backbone. Sad!” That comment came from DNC national press secretary Mark Paustenbach.
Another exchange called polls showing a majority of Sanders voters refusing to vote for Clinton “interesting”.
Yet another email has the subject, “Chuck, this must stop” asking Chuck Todd to discuss the Morning Joe conversation about whether the primary process was fair. The show’s hosts called for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down, which she has decided to do as soon as the convention is over.
There’s clear bias in favor of Hillary Clinton in any emails related to the primary presidential race. There is some evidence of an organized disruption of the Sanders campaign, though not as much as Sanders supporters would need to overhaul the nomination and certainly not enough to call Clinton’s nomination unfounded. Most of the emails are normal, political workplace messages, almost exclusively related to press relations.
Not all of the emails are overly professional, and some ring with the same tension that any office messaging system does. (Pablo, at least someone appreciates your stress humor).
In an email from May 6, DNC CEO Leah Daughtry told colleagues, “Using email to debate or defend or advance a strategy is both inefficient and lacks context.” This was part of a larger conversation apparently in response to a Sanders press release asking the DNC not to stack the deck at the DNC convention this week. This remark seems prophetic after the leak, as many of the emails do lack necessary context and creating a timeline of major party events and emails would be nearly impossible at this point.
I will say with conviction that the vast majority of these emails were unnecessarily released. If the goal was to show corruption and rigging in favor of the Clinton campaign, this leak was a failure. Releasing thousands of emails unrelated to the Clinton bias only makes it difficult to sort through the information, which is possibly the goal.
The public perception of bias is much more important in this campaign than any evidence of its existence could be. Releasing several thousand emails gives the impression that the corruption was much more widespread than those emails suggest, while a heavy percentage of those are barely more than the text of articles related to the campaign.
Do I think there was a Clinton bias in the DNC? I think it’s undeniable. Would Sanders have won if this bias weren’t there? It’s a possibility, although I don’t doubt it would still have been a close race. Would the Democrats be better with Sanders as their nominee? By far.
This email leak is less of a smoking gun and more like a squirt gun full of piss. Yes, it’s going to cause some problems, but it’s not the damning evidence the Sanders camp would need to unseat the Clinton empire.
That said, mistake after mistake has been made in the Clinton campaign, even with the DNC bias. It’s worth wondering if Clinton is even interested in winning the election at this point, after she’s thrown away a significant portion of the Democratic base and the youth vote.
Sure, progressives are terrified of Donald Trump, but we’re also terrified of a political system that moves continually to the right, which is what allowed Trump to happen. And in fairness, if Trump’s positions ever became popular, Clinton would probably evolve on his token issues as well.