On Thursday, I published a reproof of Pieter Friedrich, a religious fundamentalist who, in a series of subreptitious tweets, accused me of conspiring with Tulsi Gabbard to videotape a fake campaign rally wherein an actress would ask a question about Gabbard’s financial ties to the RSS. I prefaced my essay with an expression of distaste for the business—needed, but distasteful—of exposing the fatuity of my fellow journalists, the vast majority of whom are paid to proliferate and reinforce the propaganda of the American Empire: we must disassemble their multilayered mendacity, but it is so much more rewarding to produce our own independent content. Alas, forty-eight hours after the fall of Mr. Friedrich, another fabulist emerges from the smoggy bog to deepen the pollution of the corporate media: Lisa Lerer, a writer for The New York Times and a woman embalmed within her inextricable connections, and morally bankrupt loyalty, to the Democratic Party establishment.
Early Saturday morning, the Times published Lerer’s essay: “What, Exactly, is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?” Titled less as a question than as a declaration, Lerer’s piece is the latest in a voluminous store of letters in which writers express their dyspeptic concern that Gabbard is fostering disunity in the Democratic Party. The charge, articulated as clumsily by Lerer as it was by Aaron Rupar and Molly Jong-Fast, is that Gabbard has profaned the moral sanctity of the Democratic Party by questioning the integrity of the Party’s presidential primary process. Most conspicuously and controversially, she has condemned the polling system—its criteria as well as its execution—whereby candidates are invited to or excluded from televised debates. Her criticism ought to be utterly uncontroversial, rooted as it is in demonstrable fact, but the party establishment takes umbrage with her sacrilegious skepticism, and it has sent its rottweilers in the corporate media to overwrite her message.
However, Gabbard’s most recent challenge pertains not to the polling system, but to the delegate system in the state primaries and caucuses. For all of the inexorable attention paid to polling in the media, there is suspiciously slight “official interest” in the delegate tallies, likely because a serious examination of such would reveal the sickly undemocratic principles of our so-called democracy. The delegate system, a term that is more than incidentally authoritarian, achieved popular interest in the summer of 2016, when Bernie Sanders netted far fewer delegates at the Democratic National Convention than his performances in the primaries and caucuses would suggest. This nonplussing inversion, further complicated by WikiLeaks’s invaluable revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was conspiring against Sanders from the start of his presidential campaign, led to calls for intraparty reform.
For a more detailed discussion of the corruption of the delegate system specifically, I encourage you to read Chris Hedges’s customarily exemplary analysis at the link below:
Yet, in a shocking display of journalistic negligence, Lerer mentions absolutely none of this in her contemptuous rebuttal to Gabbard. In fact, she doesn’t even explain what, exactly, she is rebutting: she fails to inform her readers what Gabbard has said. She writes only that Gabbard is “injecting a bit of chaos into her own party’s primary race, threatening to boycott [the next] debate to protest what she sees as a ‘rigging’ of the 2020 election.” In the next sentence, and the next six paragraphs, Lerer attempts to connect Gabbard to “alt-right internet [sic] stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump”, yet she never bothers to explain, if only for the purpose of a subsequent deconstruction, what Gabbard means when she speaks of rigging, any more than she explains what libertarianism has to do with white nationalism.
We will educate Lerer on basic journalistic practice by conveying and contextualizing Gabbard’s complaint. In a grudgingly insincere gesture towards Sanders and the millions of Americans whose ballots were discarded at the Convention, the DNC abolished the “superdelegate” system, another term of Kafkaesque inanity, and announced that “superdelegates” would vote “only” in the second round. Donna Brazile, one of Clinton’s many mercenaries in the conspiracy against Sanders, went on Real Time with Bill Maher to reassure liberal voters that the DNC has been fully reformed, yet a cursory Internet search reveals that Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have already netted twelve hundred delegate votes apiece, even though Iowa won’t hold its caucus for another four months!
Give yourself a moment to allow that to settle. I couldn’t believe it when I read it. Twelve hundred delegates have already been declared and have already made their choice? What are we, the voters, supposed to make of this, if not to learn that we are nothing more than background characters (at best) or disposable props (at worst) in the Democratic Party’s pageantry of illusion? Meanwhile, Lisa Lerer, and all of her corrupt contemporaries in the corporate media, perform in the orchestra, kicking up an incessantly strident racket in a desperate effort to stop us from seeing and breaking the fourth wall.
Why would Lerer commit journalistic malfeasance so indiscreetly by deleting Gabbard’s criticism in its entirety? Because her commitment is not to truth, not to all the news that’s fit to print, but to the profitable production of misinformation, the purpose of which is to strengthen the Democratic Party and, subsequently, the establishment. She comes perilously close to exposing her motivation when she writes: “[T]here is only confusion for several Democratic officials, activists and party officials, who privately say they have been a little spooked by Ms. Gabbard.” Without examining the difference between “Democratic officials” and “party officials”, Lerer sympathizes with “rival campaigns” who “worry about her unpredictable attacks, if she participates in the debate, pointing to her sharp jabs against Senator Kamala Harris of California”.
The quintessential word is “unpredictable”, as Gabbard deviates from the establishment’s script. I have written enough in previous pieces on Gabbard’s welcome and imperative departure from the full-boar imperialism of the military-industrial complex, but perhaps of greater disconcertment to the Democratic Party is her refusal to yield to the top-tier candidates, to those corporate prostitutes who, like the delegate system, thrive within an antidemocratic structure. As an obedient daughter to the authoritarian powerbrokers in the District of Columbia, Kamala Harris was an easy choice to pursue the presidency, but her complementary public image as a compassionate progressive ran on the rocks when Gabbard exposed part of her right-wing judicial record. It was all well and good when she humiliated Tim Ryan, who was never a serious candidate for the position, anyway, but Harris was a valuable piece of property, and for breaking her, the DNC will not forgive Gabbard easily.
In the pursuit of vengeance, the establishment dispatches a charwoman like Lerer to clean up one mess and make another. She heaps much synthetic dirt on Gabbard, reiterating the sexist myth that her physical beauty is her only appeal, and blaming her because she appeals, for reasons that Lerer never articulates, to random people who identify as white nationalists. She produces a particularly pathetic quote from Brian Levin, but I’m more interested in her choice of Neera Tanden as a voice of moral authority. For those outside the know, Tanden is an enemy of Julian Assange, an apologist for the Saudi Arabian government, and, Lerer notes, “a longtime policy adviser to Hillary Clinton who now heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.” A neoliberal think tank, that is, as Jimmy Dore revealed in a video this summer. “[Gabbard’s] taken a series of policy steps which signal to the right that she has deep areas of alignment,” Tanden says, although it’s hard to imagine where Tanden and the right disagree on the question of an imperialist foreign policy.
Absent an articulation of Gabbard’s argument, Lerer’s piece becomes a forum wherein Gabbard’s critics can voice their unlettered complaints against her, leaving the undiscriminating reader with no choice but to submit to the sustained slander. Yet, there is an internally apparent contradiction in Lerer’s portrait: she scolds Gabbard for unifying several disparate elements of the Right, yet she warns that she is fragmenting the Left. How is it that a Democrat who appeals to the Right—at a time when the Republican Party is in a vulnerable state of transition, no less—is fully unappealing to the Democratic Party establishment? Surely we’re not so gullible as to believe that this intraparty animosity towards Gabbard is the result of moral principle, not when the last Democratic nominee ordered the invasion of Libya and the slaughter of 80,000 people strictly to give herself something on her record when she commenced her next presidential bid?
The tragicomic irony of Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic invasion of Libya is that it didn’t even come up in the general election, not until WikiLeaks revealed her bloodthirsty cheerleading for it. In any case, her candidacy failed at the ballot box, and the DNC has become assiduously indignant in the following years: rather than acknowledge the systemic faults and corruption Gabbard describes, the DNC depicts Clinton as the crucified and itself as the hapless victim of “Russian interference”, a term that remains almost charmingly vague three years later. The DNC also disparages Sanders for doing what Gabbard is supposedly doing: “fracturing the Democratic Party”, never mind that neither of these people is doing anything besides running for office. We are told that both of them have committed a moral trespass by presenting the American people with an alternative—first to Clinton, now to a nebulous force that will eventually manifest itself in the form of “the nominee”—as if those who beg to differ should shut up and sit down for the good of . . . je ne sais quoi, a term that Eric Michael Garcia is “in awe” of Lerer for having used in her own piece. It is clear that Lerer wants precisely that: a political system wherein the DNC selects one person who stands alone on the debate stage, commanding the subservience of the silent crowd. Accordingly, it stuns me not at all that her Twitter header features Cory Booker, another prostitute to the DNC, posing for a publicity photo, bearing his fake smile, suspended high above, where the dishonesty ceases to be visible.
P.S.: Surely Lerer’s editor didn’t think it was smart to begin the article with an attack on Ron Paul, lumping him, a prominent critic of the Trump Administration, in with Stephen Bannon and Richard Spencer? Try to keep up, people.