The campaign just got even more heated with questions again raised over the media’s balance in reporting. First, David Brock is back in the news. Brock has been widely attacked for what critics view as sleazy and vicious work on behalf of Hillary Clinton. You may recall Bernie Sanders denounced Clinton for her continued alliance with Brock and use of his controversial PAC organizations. Clinton has refused to denounced Brock or to discourage Democrats from working with or contributing to his PACs. Now, Brock has offered money to anyone who produces damaging video or audio tapes against Trump. In the meantime, Sidney Blumenthal is back in the news. Blumenthal has long been denounced as an “attack dog” for Clinton and something of a rumor spreader. He was so radioactive that the Obama Administration took the rare step to blocking Clinton’s effort to bring Blumenthal into the State Department. Blumenthal earned the nickname “Sid Vicious” for what critics call his lethal targeting of anyone who is a political threat to Clinton. However, Clinton has refused to separate herself from Blumenthal and he continues to be a close confidant. Now, after virtually all of the media from CNN to the New York Times insisted that Trump had lied about Clinton playing the birther card before Trump, reporters have stated that indeed it was not just a couple of Clinton campaign workers (who either resigned or were later fired) but Blumenthal who spread that claim in 2008. Blumenthal denies the story, but the journalist insists that Blumenthal personally pressured him to pursue the story and told him that Obama was born in Kenya. The most recent controversies again raise questions of the Clinton camps use of such people and the media’s reporting.
The man who Sanders called “the scum of the Earth” continues to run the huge PACs pushing for Clinton’s election. Now, the founder of Media Matters and key figure behind the Correct the Record super PAC, has posted a call for tapes on Trump called “TrumpLeaks.” The posting expressly states “TrumpLeaks can provide some compensation to those who have usable, undoctored video or audio that has been legally obtained or is legally accessible.” It is a call that strikes many as cash for trash, a move that NBC News would “cross a new line.”
The controversy rekindles the view of the Clinton camp as maintaining a shadowy army of PAC and attack forces. However, Brock’s long work on behalf of Clinton has received little mainstream attention even after the repeated objections of Bernie Sanders.
In the meantime, the Blumenthal story has reinforced questions over the use of surrogates to spread rumors. The Clinton camp immediately denounced Trump for saying that it was the Clinton camp that first raised the birther issue and that he simply “ended it” by forcing the release of the birth certificate. The Clinton campaign called out Trump as a liar and the media immediately followed suit with anchors assuring viewers that there was no truth to it. The Clinton camp admits that a couple of campaign volunteers did push the story in 2008 but were fired or resigned. Blumenthal however has continued to be one of Clinton’s closest advisors.
Former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher insisted on Twitter that it was Blumenthal who raised the issue of President Barack Obama’s birthplace with him in 2008 and pushed him to pursue the birther story. Blumenthal is not just any advisor. He has long been one of her closest advisors and she has for years refused to denounce him or separate herself from him. Indeed, many of the Clinton emails are from Blumenthal giving Clinton continual advise on different matters. He was also repeatedly accused of spreading rumors against opponents during prior campaigns.
CNN Jake Tapper did raise Blumenthal’s involvement with Vice Presidential candidate Tom Kaine on Sunday.
Tapper: “There’s no doubt that it is offensive and it is a lie. But I’m asking you about Sidney Blumenthal, who was banned from joining the Obama administration by the Obama White House precisely because he trafficked in a lot of questionable information about Barack Obama. If it’s true, if there’s evidence that Sidney Blumenthal did push the lie, should Hillary Clinton disassociate herself from Blumenthal, and should she pledge he will not work in her administration?”
Kaine: “I have no reason to believe that’s true, Jake. None. But again, Sidney Blumenthal isn’t running for president.”
In the meantime, Politifact has called Trump a liar though it did not delve into the Blumenthal angle. Instead, it notes that it is clear that Clinton people did spread the rumor but focuses on the narrow question if they were “first” or “started” the birther controversy as opposed to being before Trump’s raising of the issue.
With the battleground states now in what appears a statistical tie, the fear is that this is only going to get worse before (if ever) it gets better.