By Peter Daou and Tom Watson
As dedicated Democrats and long-time progressive activists, we are excited about the Democratic field and equally appalled by the dangerous direction the Republican primary has taken. When the top GOP candidates are a bully billionaire who insults women and a doctor who is re-litigating the Holocaust, it's clear we need a Democratic president.
We are strong and unabashed Hillary Clinton advocates, but our objective here is not to criticize Hillary’s Democratic rivals. Rather, we want to provide fodder for Hillary's supporters to fight back against the media and pundits for spreading falsehoods about her.
Here are five examples:
FALSE: “Hillary is unlikable”
REBUTTAL: Hillary polls as the most liked Democratic candidate in the 2016 race.
News anchors say this to her face. Op-ed writers toss it off like some kind of received truth. Political enemies on the right traffic in this meme like drug runners on a product high. Of course, it’s false. For one, the Hillary Clinton we and many others know is thoughtful, caring, funny, and smart. She’s easy to be around, quick to laugh, and a genuinely empathetic person. But more than that, polling directly contradicts this oft-repeated lie.
A brand new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that Democrats view Hillary more favorably than any of her Democratic opponents, including Joe Biden, a potential opponent. Hillary is +62 net favorable among Democrats, Biden is +55, Sanders is +23. Insiders will point to the fact that Republicans dislike Hillary in greater numbers, but we’re in a Democratic primary not a general election and in this primary, Hillary is the most likable candidate.
Oh, and she has held the top spot as the most admired woman in the world for 17 of the past 18 years. That strikes us as the very definition of likable.
FALSE: “Hillary is inauthentic; she needs to convince people she’s ‘real’”
REBUTTAL: Consistency of character is authenticity; Hillary has been Hillary for decades, as real as she can be.
This is one of the most absurd, yet most common media/pundit narratives and it involves an unmistakable tinge of gender bias. Somehow, no matter how well we know her, Hillary is always portrayed as distant and inauthentic. That portrayal is a farce.
Hillary has been on the world stage for decades, her personality traits are well known, her persona has remained rock steady over the years. People know Hillary on a first name basis. She is admired, loved, feared and respected. She is outspoken on the issues she cares about. She has served her country with dignity. She has cried and laughed and joked in public. She has wonderful friends and a wonderful family. She worked her way up from humble beginnings to become one of the great women leaders in American history.
Excuse our bluntness, but what the hell more does someone have to do to be seen as “authentic?” Be a male?
FALSE: “Hillary is untrustworthy (because of her emails)”
REBUTTAL: The email story is primarily about retroactive classification – there isn’t a single word Hillary actually wrote that is untoward or unethical.
This is a favorite cliché of Hillary’s detractors, who transparently hope that the email issue destroys her historic candidacy. No minor detail is too small to make into a huge headline, including the breaking news that like everyone else on the planet, the Secretary of State received spam. But here are the facts: while Hillary has taken responsibility for using a personal server, there isn’t a single line in her thousands of released emails that is indicative of nefarious motives or behavior. Not one.
Hillary's emails have been microscopically analyzed by every right-wing activist with a laptop and every reporter with an agenda and they've come away with ... nothing. Not a shred of evidence that Hillary said anything untoward or unethical. The entire issue revolves around (retroactive) classification questions. In that regard, President Obama has stated unequivocally that national security was never endangered. Also, Hillary is not the target of an FBI investigation as many would have you believe. Finally, the email issue has been fueled by leaks from the corrupt Benghazi Committee, and the media have dutifully overhyped the story for months.
The fact is, nothing Hillary says or does can stop her opponents from using this as a weapon against her, but thankfully, the public is catching on.
FALSE: “Hillary’s supporters lack passion”
REBUTTAL: Hillary leads in the polls, her supporters are highly engaged, and she’s been breaking fundraising records.
The notion that Hillary's base lacks passion is simply laughable to her supporters, who are enthusiastic and highly motivated, but it is repeated time and again by oh-so-serious pundits. The facts contradict the narrative. Hillary’s supporters are extremely engaged. She leads in the polls and has been breaking fundraising records. She’s widely popular in the Democratic Party and benefits from huge volunteer organizing efforts in the early states.
FALSE: “Hillary is ‘flip-flopping’ to appease the Left”
REBUTTAL: Hillary has always been progressive – and being responsive to voters is called democracy.
Hillary is a progressive at heart. Sure, we disagree on some policy decisions over the years, but we’re equally sure that no political figure in America is better prepared or more committed to bringing about progressive policy change than Hillary. Not Bernie Sanders, who we admire greatly; not Joe Biden, who we also like and respect. Certainly none of the out-of-touch and dangerously narrow-minded Republicans.
On women’s rights alone – an issue of vital importance – Hillary's record is unassailable and her impact will be history-changing. So when she adopts new policy positions based on what she’s heard from voters on the campaign trail and those stances more naturally align with our own progressive ideals, we’re thrilled. We welcome her decisions on the XL Pipeline and TPP, at least in part because they build on her already deeply progressive view of government’s role in improving the lives of Americans.
FALSE: “Hillary is seen as dishonest by the public”
REBUTTAL: The source of this categorically false talking point is a discredited and dishonest Quinnipiac poll.
This is a media favorite, and from its widespread use one would think the premise is supported by serious polling data. But one would be dead wrong. The justification for this falsehood comes from deeply flawed polling presentations created by two pollsters: Quinnipiac University and Suffolk University.
A #HillaryMen study of these polls, supplemented by the work of journalists, showed conclusively that all “Americans” don’t label Hillary Clinton with words like “liar” or “untrustworthy” or “crook” or “bitch” - lamentably, many Republicans do. Yet media outlets from ABC to MSNBC to CBS all used the data to suggest that the vast populace sees Hillary as dishonest. Trying to undermine Hillary’s candidacy with outright falsehoods is unconscionable. The Q poll debunked by #HillaryMen was trumpeted by countless media outlets, to Hillary's detriment. They owe her an apology, but we're not holding our breath...
Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.