Donna Brazile’s disclosure of an agreement between the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign has recreated a firestorm in confirming widely held views that the primary was rigged to guaranty Clinton the nomination. Even before the disclosure, many of us had reached that conclusion after debates schedules and other conditions during the primary seemed to uniformly favor Clinton. Brazile however is now insisting that she never said the primary was “rigged,” though she stands by her disclosure of the agreement as well as her statement that the Clinton campaign was “cult-like.” It was a classic Brazile moment — reminiscent of her prior false statements to the media about leaking questions to Clinton before the debate and even suggesting that her emails were altered. Now Brazile is caught in her own Clintonian “meaning of is” distinction on what she wrote in her book.
In her book, Brazile has a rather bizarre section chastising CNN’s Jake Tapper for his criticism of her unethical conduct. Brazile not only leaked the questions but then lied about it repeatedly in interviews.
We discussed earlier how Donna Brazile, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and CNN commentator, denied the legitimacy of emails that showed her leaking a question to Hillary Clinton that would be asked verbatim at the CNN downhill event. I was highly critical of the failure of the media to investigate the claim, including confirming the receipt of the earlier emails from Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri. Brazile stuck by her false statements even after additional emails allegedly showed Brazile secretly feeding information to the Clinton campaign. Again, there was relatively little media attention to the story and CNN initially issued a remarkably weak response that it was “uncomfortable” with the new disclosures on Brazile’s actions while a CNN commentator. While CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker later called Brazile’s actions “disgusting” and others have denounced her actions and later contradictions, the DNC stuck with Brazile — even praising her post-scandal appearance before staffers (with one notable exception). Then, the declassified intelligence report directly disputed what Brazile had said. Yet media remained relatively passive and again failed to press Palmieri on the issue. Brazile later admitted that she gave the questions to the Clinton campaign in a Time magazine essay. She simply said it was a “mistake” but does not address her lying to the media.
One would think that Brazile would now be contrite and leave at that but instead she expressed shock that Tapper did not defend her — part of the expectation of many in the Beltway that allies will watch each other’s backs. In her book, she writes:
“The next day, even Jake Tapper took a swing at me, calling me unethical and ‘journalistically horrifying’ during a radio interview with WMAL even though I worked for CNN as a commentator not a journalist. When I called him on this, he did not apologize. His attack on me was really about him. He wrote in an email, ‘I don’t know what happened here except it undermines the integrity of my work and CNN … you have to know how betrayed we all feel.'”
Brazile responded, “The feeling is mutual, my friend.”
Brazile seems to think that she was not under the same ethical obligation of confidentiality as a commentator with access to the questions. Many of us had previously criticized CNN for pretending that Brazile was “neutral” as a commentator despite her well-known support for Clinton. Now it turned out that she broke this core rule of confidentiality. She also ignores her repeated lies to the media, including CNN, in denying the story for weeks.
That same pattern was evident this week in Brazile awkward effort to claim that she never said that the primary was “rigged.” She appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday to deny that she ever said or intimated that it was “rigged” after Clinton aides went after her with hammer and tong this week. The problem is that she did. In the book, she wrote
Willie Geist correctly pressed Brazile on this point and what seems yet another example of Brazile’s inability to distinguish “spins” with “lies.”
GEIST: You said you came back and called Bernie after you found your proof. Proof of?
BRAZILE: Cancer. That there was cancer.
GEIST: But you said proof of it being rigged in the piece, no?
BRAZILE: I said — no.
Obviously, she was writing about rigging the primary in the book just as she also accused the Clinton campaign of being sexist in marginalizing her — even proposing“Gentlemen, let’s just put our dicks out on the table and see who’s got the bigger one, because I know mine is bigger than all of yours.”
Given the prior false statements from Brazile, it is wise to focus on what is proven rather than what is said. The agreement has now been acknowledged by the DNC which has promised “reform.” DNC head Tom Perez admits that the DNC “fell short” of its obligations to Democratic voters due to the agreement with the Clinton campaign. Of course, this occurs only after the disclosure. For the past two years, the DNC has denied special treatment for Clinton despite obvious favoritism. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was removed after she also made false statements and was later shown to be actively helping Clinton secure the primary win. Indeed, one of the reasons that many are still infuriated about the hacking is that it disclosed much of this duplicity and lies. The emails themselves have not been shown to be false. People like Brazile were irate because the public was actually shown the truth, albeit through an illegal act of hacking. I support the investigation into the hacking but it is also worth noting that the emails themselves showed a pattern of knowing false statements to the public by Democratic officials and politicians.
In the meantime, some voters are not happy with Bernie Sanders dodging the question of how the Clinton campaign effectively took control over parts of the DNC before the primary. During the campaign, many were critical of Sanders reportedly honoring an agreement not to go after Clinton for such things as her undisclosed Wall Street speeches. Indeed, he only gained traction later after he began to run against Clinton as the ultimate establishment figures and perhaps the worst possible candidate to run against Trump in an anti-establishment election.
As for Brazile, she will not be able to have it both ways: to be both the courageous muckraking DNC crusader while denying the clear import of her writings. In the end, Brazile is likely done in this town. The book is the swam song of a political operative who torched herself in a spin of lies over her own conduct.
Here is the interview: