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Clinton’s Digital Task Force Breaks Barriers To Defend Her Donors

A super political action committee, Correct The Record, which has direct ties with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, launched a “digital task force” to push out “positive content” and respond to “negative attacks” and “false narratives” spread within “online progressive communities.” The super PAC also plans to use the “task force” to “thank” and show support for superdelegates, who the campaign contends are under attack by supporters of her opponent, Bernie Sanders.

The announcement comes as the Clinton campaign has taken on a much more strident tone. Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign, contended Sanders “has been destructive and is not productive to Democrats.” After Clinton won the New York primary, a senior Clinton aide told POLITICO reporter Glenn Thrush, “We kicked his ass tonight,” and, “I hope this convinces Bernie to tone it down. If not, fuck him.”

Also, as the campaign rolls out its digital task force, the Associated Press reports on the many corporations, trade associations, and other groups, which paid Clinton for speeches between 2013 and 2015 after she left her position as United States secretary of state.

The AP found “federal records, regulatory filings and correspondence showed that almost all the 82 corporations, trade associations and other groups that paid for or sponsored Clinton’s speeches have actively sought to sway the government — lobbying, bidding for contracts, commenting on federal policy and in some cases contacting State Department officials or Clinton herself during her tenure as secretary of state.”

Clinton was paid by corporations or groups with U.S. government interests 94 times. A third profited from government contracts during this same period. This opens her up to scrutiny that if she is elected president her decisions would be influenced by these corporations and groups, including those closely aligned with Wall Street.

The “digital task force” is called “Barrier Breakers 2016.” It is the “brainchild” of well-known Clinton operative, David Brock, who founded Correct The Record. It will be overseen by the super PAC’s president, Brad Woodhouse, and it also involves “former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers, Ready for Hillary alumni, and Hillary super fans who have led groups similar to those which the task force” plans to organize.”

The project celebrates Clinton’s ability to break down barriers. This is another example of the campaign manipulating the language of intersectionality to win over voters. Yet, on the other hand, it is true: Clinton is breaking down barriers for corporations to influence governmental policy.

The task force claims “online engagement” with “Bernie Bros” is necessary because their “attacks” often make Clinton supporters afraid to voice their opinions because of the “fear of online harassment.” Female supporters of Clinton “have been subject to intense cyber-bullying and sexist attacks from swarms of anonymous attackers.”

The project also plans to “push out information to Sanders supporters online, encouraging them to support Hillary Clinton.”

Although the super PAC frames the launch of this project as an effort to “defend” Clinton, it really is an offensive information operation against the Sanders campaign, the campaign’s most passionate supporters, and any voters, who may question whether Clinton should be the next president of the United States.

Correct The Record has spearheaded some of the most dishonest attacks and rumors against Sanders so far: Sanders supported Minutemen vigilantes, who tried to execute undocumented immigrants at the Mexico border, Sanders wants to “dismantle Obamacare,” Sanders planned to commit voter fraud in Iowa, Sanders opposed bailing out auto workers, and Sanders thinks gun violence is funny when the state of Vermont is directly responsible for fueling gun trafficking in New York (which is completely false).

The Clinton campaign and its dark money allies have broken barriers for money in politics. It has pioneered what Bloomberg described as “the outsourcing of routine campaign functions to outside groups that are permitted to raise money in unlimited amounts.” In fact, Paul Ryan, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, considered filing complaints with the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department challenging Correct The Record’s “novel legal theories.” He told Time.com, “[Correct the Record] is creating new ways to undermine campaign regulation.”

Clinton has claimed she supports overturning the infamous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, which helped unleash a torrent of unregulated money into elections. However, “Clinton’s own election efforts are largely immune from her reformist platform. While Clinton rails against ‘unaccountable money’ that is ‘corrupting our political system,’ corporations, unions, and nonprofits bankrolled by unknown donors” pour “millions of dollars into a network of Clinton-boosting political organizations,” according to the Center for Public Integrity.

What is particularly troubling about the project to combat users on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram is that users may not realize they are targets of Correct The Record’s information operation. The project apparently has no plan to announce their membership in this task force. They will likely select users, who are popular, and go after them until those users are overwhelmed to a point where their expression of their opinions are drowned out by the task force’s response to their online activity.

Correct The Record may claim this type of project is necessary to defend against “Bernie Bros,” but numerous women, who support Sanders, have come under attack as if they have betrayed their gender by refusing to support Clinton. One Clinton supporter told a Sanders supporter to give up her “woman card” because her support for Sanders showed she “sucked” at being a woman. When actress and model Emily Ratajkowski expressed her support for Sanders, she was told to shut up and go back to being a hot woman. She was even asked to show her tits because that is the “spirit” of socialism.

In other words, while there is plenty of evidence there are anonymous “Bernie Bros” online who say sexist and repulsive things to women who support Clinton, there is a tit-for-tat that can be carried out, showing women who support Sanders have experienced the same kind of abuse online. To put it even more bluntly, women who express their political opinions online are cyber-bullied daily, and manipulating those attacks into a means to cripple an opponent’s political campaign is quite devious.

The Clinton campaign, and in particular, Correct The Record, is so filled with conceit that it thinks, in the middle of the Democratic primary when there are over a thousand pledged delegates to still be awarded, that they can target the “attacks” or criticisms of Clinton by Sanders supporters published on social media and then push campaign propaganda at these same supporters that will convince them to support Clinton. It is incredibly vain, and an example of how the Clinton campaign has believed all along that it is entitled to support from Democratic voters.

There would be no need for a “digital task force” if the Clinton campaign did not fear that Americans are learning too much about how Clinton is beholden to corporate and special interests, which will heavily influence her as president. They are tired of defending her against claims that she is too much of a corporate Democrat to be a true advocate for social progress if elected. They also do not want to continue to spend money fighting Sanders and his supporters so they are pulling out all the stops. Not only will this undermine campaign finance regulations, but it will effectively discourage and suppress political speech by numerous Americans.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."