By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 7, 2016
Hillary Clinton was not having a very good morning yesterday. The New York Post had devoted its full front cover to suggesting that Clinton has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality disorder, based on an explosive new book by a former Secret Service agent who was stationed directly outside former President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office and is alleging outbursts and physical violence by the former First Lady. The book has shot to number one on the nonfiction bestseller list at Amazon.com, meaning more headwinds for the Clinton campaign. On top of that, news was swirling that Senator Bernie Sanders had a good shot of trouncing Clinton in the following day’s critical primary in California, where a massive 475 pledged delegates are at stake. (Five other states are also set to vote today in primaries: New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and New Mexico.)
And then a funny thing happened. At 8:20 p.m. last evening, the Associated Press, which syndicates its news feed to newspapers around the country, ran a story with this headline: “Clinton has delegates to win Democratic nomination.” That quickly morphed into bizarre headline pronouncements that Clinton had actually “won” the Democratic Presidential nomination. Bloomberg News’ went with the craziest headline of the lot, writing: “Clinton Wins Democratic Presidential Nomination.” Most Americans reading that would assume the Democratic Convention had just been held, votes taken, and Clinton had walked away as the winner. The actual votes won’t be taken until July 25-28 when the Democratic National Convention takes place in Philadelphia.
The Associated Press came up with its faux bombshell news story by dumping superdelegates into Hillary Clinton’s tally of pledged delegates that were won in primaries and caucuses, to declare her the “presumptive” nominee of her party. Under the stated rules of the Democratic National Committee, the votes of the superdelegates, which are made up of Democratic Party bigwigs and politicians, should not be counted in a candidate’s tally by the media until the superdelegates actually vote at the national convention. Luis Miranda, the Communications Director at the Democratic National Committee, spelled that out in no uncertain terms to CNN’s Jake Tapper earlier this year. (See video clip below.) Miranda crisply explains to Tapper the reason the superdelegate votes should not be included in advance of the Convention is because “they are likely to change their minds.”
Since superdelegates are allowed to change their minds under normal circumstances, when you have an election where one of the candidates is under an active FBI investigation, as Clinton is, for transmitting classified government material over an unsecured private server in her home while Secretary of State, corporate media has an ethical responsibility to allow people to proceed to the polls and vote their conscience without a tricked up coronation. This was a serious black eye to corporate media in the United States and it provoked outrage across social media and alternative news sites.
The popular alternative media web site, Common Dreams, ran a screenshot of the NBC headline, superimposed with “Shame on You AP!” Staff writer, Jon Queally, said “The move by AP, which critics slammed as a blatant and despicable attempt to undermine the electoral process by suppressing voter turnout, came on the eve of six primaries on Tuesday, including the crucial state of California. The Sanders campaign responded by saying the reporting was not only poorly timed, but wholly inaccurate.”
Common Dreams wrote that “both the AP and NBC News were accused of journalistic malpractice by ignoring the explicit instructions of the DNC about how delegates should be counted and for declaring Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee on Monday.”
The Twitter page of the Associated Press and those of Sanders’ support groups were immediately filled with outraged voters, with many Tweets like the one above from Mathew Rodriquez, suggesting that corporate media had simply decided to skip free elections and crown their queen. Laureen Fagan @laureenfagan Tweeted: “That’s not journalism @AP. The day this naked emperor was plain for all to see was inevitably coming. That day has arrived.”
Particularly outrageous was the unethical conduct of the largest newspapers in California, where 1.5 million new voters have registered since January 1. California is an open primary, meaning Independents can vote. That fact, together with the massive new voter registrations and the tens of thousands who have turned out for Sanders’ rallies, was signaling a potential upset for Clinton in the state. That would not only be embarrassing but could lead to defections among the superdelegates prior to the Convention in July.
The Los Angeles Times, which calls itself “the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 1.4 million,” was one of the most egregious in their reporting. After running the headline “Hillary Clinton Clinches Nomination in a Historic First,” it then ran an article that asked in the headline: “After AP calls nomination for Clinton, will voters still turn out Tuesday?”
Under the circumstances, Sanders’ camp was reserved in its response to the assault on free elections. The campaign posted a statement last night that said in part:
“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then. They include more than 400 superdelegates who endorsed Secretary Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries and long before any other candidate was in the race.
“Our job from now until the convention is to convince those superdelegates that Bernie is by far the strongest candidate against Donald Trump.”
NBC, which did its part to amplify the story, will be the target of a protest rally beginning at 5 p.m. this evening at its headquarters at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. The protest is being promoted on Facebook and is in retaliation for NBC “suppressing the vote” and setting “a false narrative that the race is over even though superdelegates don’t actually vote until the convention.”
Senator Sanders has repeatedly said that this election is about ending establishment politics. It’s now crystal clear that establishment corporate media has been the wind beneath the wings of establishment politics. Maybe it’s time for the public to start exercising what little free choice they still have and start cancelling subscriptions.