Feb 24

Sanders’ Warning On Russia

So the story as widely reported goes something like this-

Bernie Sanders claimed that he warned the Clinton Campaign about Russian interference and was ignored! This is a LIE!

Well, hold on a second bucko. What Bernie actually said on Meet The Press was, “It turns out that one of our social media guys in San Diego actually went to the Clinton campaign in September and said something weird is going on.”. Later (like last Wednesday) on Vermont Public Radio Sanders said, “a guy who was on my staff” had found something suspicious. “And he said, ‘You know what? I think these guys are Russians.’”

Hardly worth the alarming Politico headline- Bernie Sanders promoted false story on reporting Russian trolls! is it now?

Reporters are not responsible for headlines, their editors are, and if you take the time to read the article you’ll find it takes a much more measured view of the situation. I’ll note that all of my points are taken from that very same piece.

Not that it isn’t trying to make something out of pretty much nothing, but that’s how Fake News as practiced by the Corporatist Legacy Media Gatekeepers who are quick to claim that attacks on their Lazy, Biased, Rolodex Reporting are attacks ON THE TRUTH ITSELF! Because they want to keep their phony baloney jobs of course and that means toeing the company line and inflating their already unjustified sense of self importance.

The actual story goes something like this-

John Mattes of San Diego is a lawyer and was a volunteer for Sanders during the 2016 Primary. After the Convention when the Clinton Campaign started complaining about Russian interference he took it upon himself to do a little Facebook searching and found, probably to his surprise, that it was a credible theory. Since he knew “someone on [Barack] Obama’s national security staff” he had a chat with them and they purportedly said- ‘John, we are seeing Putin’s fingerprints, and Putin is paying for all of it’.


Anyway he knew another guy in American Bridge PAC which is run by David Brock and generally acknowledged to be very tight with the Clinton Campaign and told them.

And then… nothing happened.

Which is not surprising actually and by this time (late Septemberish, early October) the Clinton Campaign had been fairly directly warned by the FBI that something hinky was going on. Hey, at least his heart was in the right place.

There matters might have sat and we would never have heard about it except someone in the Media (probably at MSNBC but the article does not make it clear) picked up on Mattes’ story and put it on the radar. To be clear, Mattes’ only personal (if you can call it that) contact with Bernie Sanders was a group Skype chat in the spring of 2015.

Now you can argue that this makes it a bit of a reach to claim he was a “staffer”, but you have thousands of volunteers and his name was probably on several lists and one of the ways you reward volunteers is with cheap and meaningless titles so they feel special and important, done it hundreds of times myself. Is he a “Social Medial Guy”? Well, I’m actually an active (still) Admin of a very large single issue political Facebook page even though I haven’t even been on Facebook in like two years. I can tell because I still get notifications in the email account I set up to handle that. I feel kind of guilty but I hate Facebook and I’m much busier that you might think producing content for my two sites.

So am I a “Social Media Guy”? Well, I’d put it on my resume but everyone lies their asses off in those, I certainly am not familiar enough with Facebook to do the research Mattes claims but people who know better than I say it’s entirely possible.

What Bernie said is pretty close to the truth for a Politician and I don’t delude myself he’s a Saint, I’m a pragmatist though no one believes it.

This is a piece of Media criticism, not re-litigating the 2016 Primary though I supported Sanders all the way to the Convention. It’s about “Fake News”.

Were I talking about something else I’d be highlighting this piece in The Intercept, DCCC Goes Nuclear, Slams Democratic Candidate as Corrupt for Same Behavior It Engages in Regularly by Lee Fang, Ryan Grim, and David Dayen, three of my favorites.

Who knows? I still might.