Streetwise Professor

July 23, 2016

The Medium is NOT the Message: Hillary’s Scheming Is

Filed under: Politics,Regulation — The Professor @ 12:35 pm

Wikileaks released over 20,000 documents from the Democratic National Committee. As one would expect when such a rock is turned over, this exposed a lot of disgusting wriggling creatures.

Yes, there is a lot of traffic regarding Trump. But the most damning material relates to the fact that the DNC was/is in the tank for Hillary, and schemed continuously and extensively to undermine Bernie Sanders.

The corruption of Hillary and the DNC is hardly surprising. It is her–and their–DNA. But it is illuminating to actually witness evidence of the machinations of this crowd.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this is the reaction of those who are at pains to ignore the content of the emails, and focus on Russia’s supposed  responsibility for the leak. Just a cursory scan of Twitter and the Internet revealed a disparate and rather motley cast of characters pushing this story, including John Schindler (status of pants unknown), BuzzFeed’s Miriam Elder, neocon thinktanker James Kirchick, and Gawker.

To some it is axiomatic. Wikileaks=Russia. At least Kirchick felt obligated to come up with a more elaborate theory. Putin wants Trump to win, and the leaked emails will enrage the Bernie supporters who are also Wikileaks and RT afficionados. These disaffected Berners will either not vote or will go to Trump.

Whatever. In these situations, ALWAYS use Occam’s Razor, and that cuts against such a baroque theory. The far more parsimonious explanation is that an outraged Bernie supporter in the DNC (you don’t think there are Feel the Berners working as IT geeks at DNC?), or an outraged Bernie supporter with hacking skillz, did it. Come on. Look around. A lot of hardcore lefties are outraged at Hillary’s and the DNC’s underhanded and dirty treatment of their guy. That’s a much more straightforward explanation than Putin Did It!

There are other things that cut against the Putin theory. The reflexive attribution of Russian control to anything coming out of Wikileaks undermines the impact of the leak. If the Russians want to hurt Hillary, they would want to use an outlet that is not widely associated with them, if only to deprive Hillary and her flying monkeys and her tribe of acolytes of a way to discredit the leak–which is exactly what they are doing. The Russians aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t rely on an outlet that could be discredited precisely because of its alleged connection to them when there are many other ways of releasing the information. It would be in their interest to use a cutout that is not associated with them.

Further, if Russian hacking is so powerful (and I agree that it is), the DNC emails would not be the most damaging material. Hillary’s server material and Clinton Foundation emails would be far more damning.

As for Schindler’s argument that (unproven and implausible) Russian interference in US elections is beyond the pale: even if Russia is involved, influence by revealing facts is a different thing altogether from attempts to influence by manipulation, lies, disinformation, propaganda, or coercion. What the leak reveals is that the DNC actively manipulated the US primary elections in order to benefit Hillary: that kind of influence is more malign than influencing by making that fact known. Keeping the DNC’s and Hillary’s machinations secret would also influence upcoming presidential election. It’s better that our elections are influenced my more facts rather than less, and to argue that these facts should be ignored because of their (alleged) provenance is to commit two logical fallacies: ad hominem argument (reasoning/facts are judged based on the source) and appeal to motive (arguments/facts are to be judged based not on their logic/truth, but the motive of the party making the argument/presenting the facts).

The irony-and hypocrisy-of those rushing to pin this on Russia in order to distract attention from the content is also remarkable. Some (like Miriam Elder) have been big Wikileaks and Bradley Manning supporters in the past. Funny how alleged Russian manipulation of Wikileaks escaped their attention when Assange was leaking things that hurt their political opponents, but all of a sudden becomes THE STORY when one of theirs is targeted.

But the irony and hypocrisy don’t stop there. The DNC emails reveal that it used Russian tactics that today’s critics of the DNC data dump have assailed in the past: paying people to troll political opponents and their supporters on Twitter and elsewhere, and using employees to participate in Astroturf “demonstrations.”

And there’s more! The Attack the Messenger strategy is exactly the one that the Kremlin has employed in response to leaks about it. Putin’s spokesman Peskov tried to discredit the Panama Papers by claiming that they were a CIA information operation. Those attacking Wikileaks today went ballistic. How are they any different?

No. The medium is not the message, and attempts to make it so are discreditable and fallacious ways to distract attention from the real message in the DNC emails: namely, that the party, and its standard bearer, are corrupt, unethical slugs who have rigged the nomination process to save a wretched candidate who couldn’t win fair-and-square despite her huge advantages. Regardless of who turned over the rock to reveal that, it’s a good thing that the world can see them for what they are.



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1 Comment »

  1. Frankly, I’m surprised Sanders is supporting Clinton rather than Trump. That dude is as statist as they come. At least Sanders is a democratic socialist; Trump – not so much. The GOP had some great potential candidates in its senior ranks. But it’s been pandering to mouthbreathers for so long that the mouthbreathers have finally taken over.

    Comment by aaa — July 23, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

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