A social-media spasm among Berniebros triggered by this idiotic clip is already well underway as you’re reading this, rest assured.
The best part is the provenance. This “analysis” is the sort of thing most lefties would tell you they’d expect to see on a slow-news-day episode of “Fox & Friends,” aimed at antagonizing progressives by pitting them against each other.
But it’s not Fox News that aired this, is it?
JFC MSNBC’s Joy Reid invited on a body language expert to say “Bernie is lying” about the Warren spat pic.twitter.com/yhqchYFHk8
— Ibrahim (@ibrahimpols) January 18, 2020
“Strategically speaking, it’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen,” said one Democratic strategist to the Hill when asked about the Bernie/Warren sexism uproar. “There is only one winner out of this battle: It’s Joe Biden.”
Right. So why is the left’s cable news network of choice escalating the dispute instead of trying to paper it over? I don’t know whether to applaud Joy Reid or to laugh at her for being willing to kick the hornet’s nest, and for the lamest conceivable “analysis.”
This Intercept story asks an interesting question. How sure are we that it was Team Warren that leaked the details of her conversation with Bernie in 2018 about a woman’s chances of defeating Trump?
Not long after meeting with Sanders at the end of 2018 to discuss her impending presidential run, Warren hosted an off-the-record dinner with a number of journalists, according to sources with knowledge of it. At the dinner, Warren was asked about her meeting with Sanders, and in the course of the discussion, she relayed that Sanders had warned that he didn’t believe a woman could beat Trump in 2020. Different reporters recalled the comments differently, a mirror image of the dispute between Warren and Sanders over exactly what Sanders said — with Warren saying that Sanders argued a woman couldn’t beat Trump, while Sanders said that he only said Trump would weaponize misogyny against a woman, not that it would work. (The Intercept was not at the dinner. Most politicians hold informal, off-record dinners or meetings with journalists, though it’s not something Sanders is known to do. Occasionally details from those meetings leak, but it’s rare.)
From there, the piece of news entered the journalistic bloodstream, circulating among reporters as gossip but not finding its way into print. On Monday, it finally did, with CNN’s M.J. Lee reporting that according to four sources — described as “two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting” — Sanders had told Warren, according to CNN’s paraphrasing, that “he did not believe a woman could win.”
That sounds like contemporaneous corroboration of Warren’s account of the convo with Bernie — or partial corroboration, I guess. Evidently even the reporters can’t agree on whether she claimed Sanders flatly insisted a woman couldn’t win or not. Either way, asks the Intercept, isn’t it possible that some of the reporters who were at that off-the-record dinner with Warren leaked the details last week to CNN of what was allegedly said between her and Bernie during their 2018 chat?
I’m thinking no. If reporters were going to spill it, they would have spilled it long ago. The timing suggests that it was a last-ditch shot by Team Warren to undermine Sanders’s progressive cred in the home stretch to Iowa. And it’s far too coincidental that the story appeared just 48 hours after Politico reported that Bernie volunteers were questioning Warren’s electability in chats with voters, with Warren claiming she felt “trashed” when she found out. The leak of their private conversation was almost certainly a revenge op by Warren to punish Sanders for that and warn him that she’s willing to play rough if he doesn’t get his people in line.
Although the Intercept’s theory does have one thing going for it. It would explain why Team Warren thought, seemingly insanely, that leaking the conversation would help them more with non-Bernie voters than it would harm them with Berniebros whose support they’ll need if she ends up as the nominee. Answer: They didn’t think that. They didn’t leak the conversation in the first place!
Except they did. C’mon.
In lieu of an exit question, check out FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of how the Democratic candidates’ support changed after this week’s debate, an event at which the convo between Bernie and Warren was discussed. The share of Dem voters who said they’d consider voting for Warren rose by nearly three and a half points. The share who said the same of Sanders rose by just two-tenths of a point. Warren’s favorable rating also rose by nearly three and a half points. Bernie’s favorable dropped slightly — and his unfavorable rating increased nearly three full points. Hmmmm. Maybe the Warren leakers knew what they were doing after all.