Wait, what? Elizabeth Warren isn’t telling the whole truth about something in her past? Get. Out. Of. Here. Either that or the Bernie Bros have mobilized enough to convince the Washington Post that there was far less to the December 2018 conversation than Warren has claimed, and which CNN reported yesterday.
When Warren finally commented for the record, she corroborated the CNN report that said Sanders flat-out told her a woman couldn’t beat Donald Trump, which John noted last night:
But wait!, write Washington Post reporters Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan. According to two sources, Sanders never said a woman couldn’t win. Sanders instead said that Trump would use “nefarious tactics” to make misogyny part of his campaign if the nominee was a woman. Or perhaps either way:
Two people with knowledge of the conversation at the 2018 dinner at Warren’s home told The Washington Post that Warren brought up the issue by asking Sanders whether he believed a woman could win. One of the people with knowledge of the conversation said Sanders did not say a woman couldn’t win but rather that Trump would use nefarious tactics against the Democratic nominee.
Sanders admitted that much in his initial response to the CNN story. “What I did say that night,” Sanders wrote, “was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could.” Sanders vehemently denies saying or even thinking that a woman couldn’t beat Trump, which is why he brought up Hillary Clinton as part of his response. He cited Clinton’s final tally as having bested Trump by “3 million votes in 2016” despite those efforts, even if Clinton came up short in the states that mattered.
Is this a case of just two people hearing different messages out of the same words? It’s possible to read that kind of a warning from Sanders as discouragement, as in “you don’t know what you’ll be in for if you get the nomination.” That’s still a far cry from the claim Warren made, however, that Sanders explicitly told her that a woman couldn’t win at all.
“I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” she said, adding: “I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry.”
But wait!, write the New York Times’ Astead Herndon and Jonathan Martin. Their sources say that Sanders actually did say a woman couldn’t win under Trump’s misogynistic artillery fire. Note, however, the context in which these sources came by this knowledge:
The people familiar with the 2018 meeting, who were briefed on it shortly after it took place but were not authorized to speak publicly, said Mr. Sanders offered the comment while giving his assessment of the coming race. In relaying to Ms. Warren the challenges he thought her campaign would face, he said not only that President Trump would weaponize sexism, but also that such attacks would preclude a woman from being elected, according to the private accounts.
So whose sources are better on this — those with Team Warren, or those with Team Sanders? That’s what’s going on here, and what’s been going on since CNN broke the story. All of these sources appear to have been briefed about the meeting after it took place rather than being in the meeting itself. They may not be lying about it, either, but merely recounting what they were told by each candidate. Sanders might have told his team what the conversation sounded like from his perspective, and Warren might have done the same with her team.
However, the sources aren’t running for president, and the fact remains that one of the two candidates is lying. Either Sanders explicitly said a woman couldn’t beat Donald Trump, as Warren and her sources are claiming, or he didn’t, as Sanders and his sources explicitly deny. Which is it?
It’s almost impossible to choose, isn’t it? This is a classic he said/she said, with no easy resolution outside of an abject confession. Oh, I have my suspicions, given Warren’s track record on honesty and scrupulous integrity regarding claims of sexism in particular, but there’s only one thing certain about this — both sides lose in this fight. And we get to pass lots and lots of popcorn as long as it continues.