The Blind Hatred Of Hillary Clinton
The reaction to What Happened, an interview with Verrit’s Peter Daou, and one question: Why all the hate?
“There were plenty of people hoping that I, too, would just disappear. But here I am.” — Hillary Clinton
Objectively speaking, Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America. This is not my opinion. Unlike some in the media, the numbers don’t lie.
Hillary Clinton has won the “Most Admired Woman” Gallup poll for the last 15 years straight, adding up to a total of 21 times. She won the popular vote with 65.8 million ballots in 2016 after becoming the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party.
Despite this, when you scroll through your news feed this week, you’ll see pundits proclaiming that Hillary Clinton is unpopular and should “stop talking” even though she won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. You will see headlines reimagining the election, falsely asserting that Clinton’s message didn’t resonate with working class voters despite having won the working class vote. But if you ignore the headlines, look at the data, and listen to the people, you will see that she is far from the pariah she is portrayed as.
But unfortunately, facts don’t run the news these days. In light of Clinton’s new memoir What Happened, it’s clear that far too many journalists haven’t learned the lessons from their monumental malpractice during the 2016 election that aided the rise of President Donald Trump. In the midst of the hype leading up to the release of her memoir, we’ve seen these same bad habits in full force. There is no better illustration than in the response to Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the new media site, Verrit.
Verrit had been up for about a month, but after this tweet, a firestorm of hate arose. I’ll admit, it wasn’t immediately clear to me what it was either. So I started to read the reviews of Verrit and… wow. Pundits erupted with reviews of Verrit that read more like hit pieces written by scorned ex-lovers with a vendetta. The anger fuming from these reviews implied broken keyboards across America.
Rantt News sat down with Peter Daou (former adviser to John Kerry (‘04) and Hillary Clinton’s (‘08) presidential campaigns) who founded Verrit with his wife Leela Daou, to get their perspective and a better understanding of the site.
“What happened to Verrit is a microcosm of what happens with Hillary all the time.” — Peter Daou
Verrit bills itself as “Media for the 65.8 million,” a nod to Clinton’s voters but it also describes itself as a site that “collects and contextualizes noteworthy facts, stats, and quotes for politically engaged citizens.” I asked Daou whether or not Clinton’s endorsement and the tag line undermined the site’s credibility as a fact-checking resource. Daou explained, “No. The reason we put media for the 65.8 million is we’re being very transparent about who our audience is… It’s really a platform for this particular worldview… we can have a point of view and also have facts. Those two are not mutually exclusive.”
Daou says he received way more negative backlash from the left and mainstream media than the right. There were even reporters writing stories about his family’s past and widowed mother who happened to be in the hospital at the time of the stories being released. All of this, because of a website for Hillary Clinton voters? I asked Daou if he thought a website launched for failed candidate Senator Bernie Sanders would have elicited the same response:
“If we had labeled the site ‘Media for the Bernie Revolution,’ I believe we would’ve gotten rave reviews from the very same writers.”— Peter Daou
One of the reviews I saw widely shared by respected journalists was Politico reporter Jack Shafer’s piece. This was one of the angriest. The headline was, “This Pro-Hillary Website Looks Like North Korean Agitprop.” Shafer used this Verrit as justification for his headline:
The headline to one early Verrit borrows from the literary methods of Kim Jong Un’s North Korea to assert, “Hillary Democrats Are the Heart and Conscience of America.” Does anybody outside of the Daou re-education camp really think this way?
There are 65.8 million people who might think this way. Other reviews also tried to paint the site as blatant propaganda, but if you scroll through it, the vast majority of the content is pertaining to progressive issues, not Hillary Clinton.
“There’s been so much spin, lies, and smears about Hillary Clinton that when you state an actual fact about her, people get shocked because they really haven’t heard it.” — Peter Daou
Whether or not you’re a fan of the site’s design, concept, or tag line, the negative response was clearly not proportional. There appeared to have been malice behind the reaction. It’s not as if this site is a self-proclaimed voice for the alt-right, surely a site like that would be marched off the internet, right? (Why on Earth Steve Bannon gets an appearance on 60 minutes and is treated as a political genius after spearheading a failing presidency is a story for another day.)
The fact that many on the left spent so much time attacking a site that promotes issues progressives care about — equal pay for women, civil rights, and combating climate change — is concerning. Important to note, this firestorm of criticism took place during the same week DACA was rescinded. To be frank, the overwhelmingly negative reaction to Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of Verrit was overblown. It was like watching a group of school children join in on a bullying chant without knowing how the chant even got started.
Regardless of all the hate, Daou tells me that Verrit has received thousands of sign-ups, tens of thousands of new followers on Twitter, and numerous emails thanking him for creating the site. Just like when it comes to Clinton’s popularity, the perception seems to be different than the reality. Numbers don’t lie.
So, why all the hate in the first place? After sitting back and watching the backlash from both the left and right, it became clear that these were the same tendencies that got us here in the first place. It appears the main reason Verrit was getting this amount of hate was because it filled the eerie need for some in media to pile on Hillary Clinton whenever the opportunity strikes. Some journalists haven’t learned a thing…
We’ve seen this kind of bandwagon journalism before. Rather than focus fire on a person who was clearly mentally incapable of holding the most powerful position on the planet, far too much of the media was consumed by Hillary Clinton. A new Harvard study found during the 2016 election, the Clinton email scandal dominated news coverage. As we know now, some of this coverage was fueled by the emails released by Wikileaks, obtained from Russia’s hacking of the DNC.
Since the beginning of the General Election, the media was well aware of the fact Russia was behind the hacks and that the emails released by Wikileaks were sourced from these cyberattacks. This didn’t stop their obsessive coverage of every single leak, becoming distribution networks for Russian propaganda.
And while the focus was on Clinton, the media missed massive scandals like the Trump Foundation’s self-dealing. If you were anywhere near a TV screen or smartphone during the election, chances are you’ve heard about the Clinton Foundation. And if you’ve read or watched a report on the organization, you may have walked away thinking the foundation is more like the Illuminati than a charity. But you most likely didn’t hear much ado about Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold’s phenomenal reporting revealing the Trump Foundation’s “self-dealing” because the story was released on September 10, 2016. This was the day before September 11th, or in other words, the weekend Hillary Clinton had pneumonia.
What followed was some of the worst examples of click-bait journalism and ratings hungry broadcasting I have ever seen. Story after story was published about “Hillary’s Health,” and if you watched cable news that week, you would’ve had no idea that there was a Trump Foundation scandal at all.
After the election, the Trump Foundation admitted to the IRS that they were indeed, “self-dealing.” It turns out, Trump was guilty of what the media was trying to accuse Clinton of — and one of their colleagues had already uncovered it. But Clinton’s pneumonia was more important to them.
The media covered Hillary Clinton like they were vetting the next President of the United States. On the other hand, they treated Donald Trump like the kid in the classroom who gets an A for effort. The American people were so distracted by emails/Russian propaganda and Clinton Foundation non-stories that they missed Trump’s conflicts of interest, the very real Trump Foundation “self-dealing” scandal, and the biggest story of all: Russia’s interference.
The chase for ratings. The obsession with being first. False equivalency. Double standards. A habit built by decades of negative Clinton coverage they just couldn’t break. All of these themes plagued the 2016 election coverage. By now you may be asking, “why are you still writing about the 2016 election?” The answer: 2018, 2020, 2022, 2024, etc. The point of this is to try and learn from the mistakes that contributed to the election of an unhinged, unintelligent, morally bankrupt and self-centered fool to the highest office in the world.
The reason why these points need to be hammered in is because these are the same reflexive tendencies that award President Trump a “reset” or a “pivot” when he manages to complete a coherent sentence. The current President of the United States is held to a very low standard.
If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat them. A media that continues to feed into their worst impulses is a detriment to our democracy.
Back to What Happened. Some of the reactive responses to the book were written before some even read it. Some claimed that Clinton should just “go away.” If you remove your personal feelings about Clinton, this book is an important memoir from a woman who made history. It’s a noteworthy piece of literature that any historian would see value in and any aspiring young woman who wants to break a glass ceiling may find inspiration in.
One of the main criticisms is that Clinton isn’t taking responsibility for her loss, despite having explicitly done so in her book. Simply outlining other factors that contributed to a loss isn’t avoiding responsibility, it’s speaking your truth. And Clinton’s truth happens to be very close to reality. Her story is one that needs to be heard. To blame the 2016 election loss of Hillary Clinton solely on the Clinton campaign, would be like pointing to a house that was taken down by a 200 mph tornado and saying “it collapsed only because it had weak infrastructure.”
Sure, the Clinton campaign could’ve executed better. But it is inaccurate to act as if there were not other factors at play like, oh I don’t know, a foreign power trying to help get your opponent elected. And not to mention, the Comey letter.
To those journalists who are claiming Hillary Clinton “hasn’t taken responsibility for her role in her loss to Donald Trump” or saying she’s “incapable of self-reflection.” I ask you, “journalist” who still mindlessly attacks Clinton and anything associated with her name, have you taken responsibility for your role? Where is your self-reflection?