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Holy shit, you guys, Berners are some dumb shits sometimes. I mean that affectionately, of course, because these are people whose past work I've respected and enjoyed, and maybe when the Bernie hangover wears off, they'll be useful again. Jordan Chariton decided he wanted to come for me on Twitter again because I still don't get just how black Bernie really is, but before he scampered away, some of his Berner fanbois started taunting me about how some "leaked" documents are going to take Hillary down because they prove "collusion" between the DNC, Hillary, and the media to make her the nominee they wanted all along. Turns out Jordan is right in the thick of not getting this story:

What he asked them to do was authenticate a document that fellow Berner and otherwise useful human being Shaun King described this way:

Two other documents that are very concerning were internal memos. One, claiming to be written on May 26, 2015, a full year before Hillary was declared the winner of the party’s presidential nomination and months before the first primary was held, speaks of her as if she is already the nominee and how they aim to spend the following year preparing her for such a moment.

The DNC is supposed to be an unbiased arbiter of the campaign and this memo suggests anything but that. Furthermore, the memo gives strategies for they can best position her for general election. One of those strategies says they aim to, "Use specific hits to muddy the water around ethics, transparency, and campaign finance attacks on HRC."

Another memo claims that they "will utilize reporters to drive a message" but do so "with no fingerprints" on the process so that the public believes the messages are coming from the reporters and not the campaign.

The documents in question were part of the same hack that saw the release of an alleged (and lame) DNC oppo file on Donald Trump, and have obviously not been authenticated, but that doesn't even matter. I'd love to draw this out more and bat it around like a ball of yarn, but I'll just cut to the chase: there are two huge problems with this document, and they are that it A. does not show "collusion" between anybody, and B. it's not a DNC document, it's a strategy pitch that was sent to the DNC by an unidentified sender, probably an outside consultant. 

"B" is important, because even if it said "Hey, guys, let's stomp[ Bernie Sanders so Queen Hillary can be our nominee," it wouldn't mean shit because I could send them an email that says that right now. 

But even if this were a DNC document, all it shows is a strategy to use against the eventual Republican nominee, and since it was written on May 26, 2015, when Hillary was 48 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, it makes sense that they would attenuate it to her. Way to go, Scoop, you found out everyone in the world thought Hillary was going to win last May, including Bernie Sanders. Is he in on it too?

Here's the other painfully dumb part, though. The shit they key in on as "collusion" with the media is this part:

  Reporter Outreach: Working through the DNC and others, we should use background briefings, prep with reporters for interviews with GOP candidates, off-the-record conversations and oppo pitches to help pitch stories with no fingerprints and utilize reporters to drive a message.   

That's not collusion, that's what every press shop everywhere ever does, including some places that are on Jordan's resume'. It doesn't make you an evil press shop, it makes you a press shop, and while I almost never use pitches like these unless I can negotiate attribution, lots of reporters do. It doesn't make them bad reporters unless they don't do it right, which you can read more about here.

What's ironic is that a few weeks ago, I uncovered something that looked an awful lot like collusion between Team Hillary and The Washington Post, and none of the Berners even noticed. It's complicated, but even that doesn't make the source evil, it makes the reporters piss-poor.

Look, I think Bernie Sanders has an honest gripe with the DNC, especially about the debates, but having a memo from someone else outlining a strategy to use against Republicans by the 48-point favorite is not a smoking gun, it's fucking normal.

Unfortunately, even though this probably is a legit memo that was on the DNC server, they're unlikely to authenticate it because of the dumb shit way it's been reported. That line about muddying the waters is deadly, the "reporter outreach" stuff looks bad to journalism novices, and if they've got to go around explaining that they didn't write it, that means they're explaining, and when you're explaining, you're what?

Here's the full text of the alleged memo:

To: The Democratic National Committee

Re: 2016 GOP presidential candidates

Date: May 26, 2015

Below, please find a suggested strategy for positioning and public messaging around the 2016 Republican presidential field. Ultimately, we need to

Our Goals& Strategy

Our goals in the coming months will be to frame the Republican field and the eventual nominee early and to provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC. Over the long-term, these efforts will be aimed at getting us the best match-up in the general election, and weakening the eventual nominee through the course of the primary. We have outlined three strategies to obtain our goal:

1) Highlight when GOP candidates are outside of the mainstream on key issues, ideally driving the rest of the field to follow with positions that will hurt them in a general election;

2) Damage Republican presidential candidates’ credibility with voters by looking for targeted opportunities to undermine their specific messaging;

3) Use specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC

Operationalizing the Strategy

Highlighting Extreme or Unpopular Positions

There are two ways to approach the strategies mentioned above. The first is to use the field as a whole to inflict damage on itself similar to what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012. The variety and volume of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more “Pied Piper” candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party. In these issues, we would elevate statements and policies from any candidate—including second and third-tier candidates—on issues that will make them seem too far to the right on social issues and too far from the priorities of everyday Americans on economic issues.

Undermining Their Message& Credibility, Based on our General Election Priorities

In addition to pinning down the field on key issues, we will work to undermine the Republican candidate’s specific messaging, while keeping in mind which candidates and which messages we believe are most powerful. These messages and the responses to them will change given new campaign positioning and new learnings from polling and research, but on these issues, we will keep the focus on the most likely candidates to allow some possibility for growth with the weaker candidates.

Jeb Bush

What to undermine: the notion he is a “moderate” or concerned about regular Americans; perceived inroads with the Latino population.

Marco Rubio

What to undermine: the idea he has “fresh” ideas; his perceived appeal to Latinos and younger voters

Scott Walker

What to undermine: his Wisconsin record, particularly on jobs; the idea he can rally working- and middle class Americans.

Rand Paul

What to undermine: the idea he is a “different” kind of Republican; his stance on the military and his appeal to millennials and communities of color.

Chris Christie

What to undermine: his success as governor, his hypocrisy in telling it like it is vs. his ethical issues and acts of a typical politician.

Muddying the Waters

As we all know, the right wing attack machine has been building its opposition research on Hillary Clinton for decades. HRC’s critics have been telegraphing they are ready to attack and do so with reckless abandon. While reporters have much less of an appetite for ethics stories about GOP candidates, we will utilize the research to place highly targeted hits—for example, GOP candidates taking positions supported by their major super PAC donors.


Working with the DNC and allied groups, we will use several different methods to land these attacks, including:

Reporter Outreach: Working through the DNC and others, we should use background briefings, prep with reporters for interviews with GOP candidates, off-the-record conversations and oppo pitches to help pitch stories with no fingerprints and utilize reporters to drive a message.

Releases and Social Media: Where appropriate these attacks can be leveraged for more public release, particularly the attacks around specific issues where a public release can point out that Republicans are outside of the mainstream.

Bracketing Events: Both the DNC and outside groups are looking to do events and press surrounding Republican events to insert our messaging into their press and to force them to answer questions around key issues.

We look forward to discussing this strategy further. Our goal is to use this conversation to answer the questions who do we want to run against and how best to leverage other candidates to maneuver them into the right place.