By Tom Watson
There is a mounting sense of desperation among an influential group of national political players regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. The trajectory of the race alarms them. Their big goal is proving elusive. They're losing control of the narrative. They’re distracted by one big story and they're beginning to express rising concern about the diminishing prospects of their enterprise.
I refer, of course, to the Beltway media.
In particular, the journalists, pundits, commentators, political operatives, and consultants who have spent entire careers trying in vain to Stop Hillary.
The body language says it all.
Despite an endless barrage of negative coverage, sexist attacks and hundreds of millions of GOP dollars aimed at tearing her down, Hillary is better situated than any woman in U.S. history to become president. She is calm, confident, and focused.
The reaction among her media detractors is shrill, journalistically unethical, infused with deep animosity, and riven with a kind of transparent desperation that almost stirs a humane sympathy for their deep psychic misery.
This is the cynical playbook and frankly, intellectually lazy nature of what they offer as “news” and "analysis" in the Age of Hillary.
1. Incessantly peddle false Rove and Koch-funded right wing narratives to tarnish Hillary’s public image.
2. Latch on to the slightest hint of trouble (an unfavorable data point in a poll, a negative comment from a voter, an anonymous quote from an "insider," and so on).
3. Insist darkly that more nefarious deeds will eventually be uncovered (Hillary’s emails are just the tip of the iceberg because she “is a Clinton”).
4. Magically step outside of the very negativity they are creating to become “objective” observers lamenting all the bad press around Hillary.
5. After unceasingly attacking her, ask why she’s always under attack.
6. Rinse and repeat.
This is how the national media fabricate news around Hillary and then report on it like they had nothing to do with the very news they manufactured. That she’s still standing (and thriving) in the face of it drives them into a frenzy.
Where it really hits Peak Derangement is when Hillary fails to genuflect before the altar of conventional wisdom and admit their “role in the process” of electing the next president.
Suffer along with Chris Cillizza, sadly addicted as he is to the “one Democratic consultant” trap of backing up the narrative rattling so loudly in his own head. That narrative is the demonstrably wrong consensus of the Beltway media crowd since Hillary first ran for Senate in 2000, namely:
"She has always been awkward and uninspiring on the stump," said one senior Democratic consultant granted anonymity to candidly assess Clinton's candidacy.
The key word in this sentence is “granted.” Anonymity to rip Hillary is one of the few powers the “innerati” (Peter Daou’s excellent descriptor) still have left in the conventional-wisdom creating process.
Feel the pain of uber-pundit Eugene Robinson, who declared (with a headline that matches word for word the column of a week earlier by fellow pundit Ruth Marcus) that Hillary is “her own worst enemy.” And what would make her worse than the Republican attack machine that has assailed her for a quarter century? Why, her failure to show contrition, of course. “I wish Hillary Clinton would be respectful enough to say, 'I’m sorry. I was wrong.'”
Yes, a leading male pundit demanding that the most accomplished female politician of our age show more respect is clearly the way to go.
Then there’s MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman whose morning show with Mika Brzezinski has become a poisoned sea of Hillary hatred tinged with boys club misogyny. “By and large, most Democrats... they know the email scandal is going to get worse. They know there's more in the Clinton Foundation,” he declared recently, his McCarthyite chops well sharpened. Day after day, Scarborough and his morning crew are given free reign by Phil Griffin to blast the country’s most prominent female political figure even as the network’s ratings hit new lows.
These are just three examples, and by choice, they’re not FOX or the network of right-wing radio that has aimed to take Hillary down for the better part of three decades. They are mainstream reporters and pundits, and their outrage stems from a personal dislike of the candidate and her refusal to bow and scrape.
#HillaryMen have seen this play before. We know that Hillary will not capitulate to her detractors. As she continues to drive forward toward the Democratic nomination – despite false scandal-mongering and personal invective – their collective fear will grow.
Toughen up folks, it’s going to get worse.
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.