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Mobbing the Ladies

If you’ve ever been the target of a mobbing or smear campaign, you know what a destructive force it can be in your life. Usually, the mobbing or smear is started by a person with significant narcissistic tendencies. The process can go on for decades. It goes like this.

The narcissist has a dislike of the target who refuses to conform to the narcissist’s worldview. Where the narcissist has been able to influence and bend to her will everyone else she wants to control, the target remains stubbornly unable to submit to having their personality remade in the narcissists image. The target may be unaware of the narcissist’s motives and that merely by being themselves they are making the perpetrator apoplectic. The target goes about her life making plans and achieving things. Maybe even getting attention.

This is when the narcissist starts the smear campaign. I used to be puzzled how this actually worked until recently because it’s so simple that it’s hard to believe it’s effective. The smear is based on anticipation and expectations. If you condition your audience to expect certain behaviors, you can point to those behaviors when they occur. Then there is a bit of Pavlov’s dog involved. The narcissist has to associate that behavior with something negative.

Let’s take a simple example. The target is precocious, adorable, and funny as a young child when she starts bossing around her grandfather. The narcissist starts telling the family that the child is imperious and thinks she’s better than anyone else. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The next time the relatives see that 3 yr old acting like a boss around grandpa, it’s not so cute. Now, the relatives see a side of the kid they never noticed before. The narcissist snickers and tries again.

Before you know it, the relatives wonder what they ever saw in the kid. The kid starts picking up a negative vibe but can’t figure out what’s going on. It gets worse over time because we’re human. We make mistakes. But if the mob is conditioned to see any human quality as a problem, the campaign is very effective at knocking the target down. Over and over.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Well, I was reading this piece by Eric Boelert at PressRun on how much trouble women candidates were having this year and i think he’s on to something. Primarily, we’re talking about Warren, Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Harris. After Hillary won the popular vote but didn’t get the electoral college vote, she became the poster child of everything bad with a female candidate. That’s probably why all the money went to plastic Pete, joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. But there was this interesting paragraph buried in the article that caught my eye:

“Example: The campaign press corps essentially eliminated policy coverage in 2016, which benefited the political neophyte, Trump. One study found that “In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.”

“Institutionally, the Beltway press has maintained a weirdly personal grudge against Hillary Clinton, and her husband, since they arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1993. During the 2008 campaign, that animosity flared up constantly. At the time, Salon’s Rebecca Traister detected “a nearly pornographic investment in Clinton’s demise” among male pundits. And it only seemed to intensify in 2016. Assuming Clinton would defeat Trump, the press moved to make her campaign as unpleasant as possible and to make sure she limped across the finish line (Hacked emails! Email servers!), so there would be no historic victory lap for breaking the glass ceiling.”

“I firmly believe that was the plan, as the media gorged on months worth of pointless email and Clinton Foundation coverage, as she ran against the most openly corrupt candidate in American history. In the end though, the press helped elect Trump. And instead of trying to just dent Clinton’s victory, the press may have pushed back the dream of electing a woman president in the United States. And that’s what we’re watching unfold under the headline of an “electability” debate.”

The first thing Boelert cites is that the overemphasis on Hillary’s emails minimized Trump’s corruption. You’d think that people would be able to see through this. But there’s a phenomenon discovered by a psychologist named Tversky that shows that the more similar you make two disparate things appear to be, the more trouble people have deciding between the two. The press tosses this off as “false equivalence” without really understanding what it means. But there’s math behind it. Not ugly math but not something I want to dig into here. Let’s just say this is the thing that tipped the election in Trump’s favor. It came after a long period of other negative stuff thrown at Clinton.

Back to smear campaigns. Smear campaigns quickly turn into mobbing. I think we saw that pretty clearly in 2016. But the weird thing is, WHY was there such a grudge against Clinton in the DC press??

This is a moot question but let’s explore it anyway. So smear campaigns evolve into mobbing and usually have a narcissist behind them. Maybe more than one. But who could want to take down Hillary Clinton? Well, she certainly wasn’t a conformist. I look back at her tea and cookies remark and don’t laugh it off as insignificant any more. My guess is there were some semi-powerful women in the DC media who envied Hillary Clinton. They might even be their own little group of Heatherish mean girls. And the effect they had on the press is they held just enough power to get some ambitious mean girls in training into their cushy jobs. We can all guess who the original group was.

These were the ones that started the smear campaign. The smear campaign turned into mobbing. There is a competing group of mobbers who are the white Ivy League male constituent. They didn’t want Clinton either because, well, she wasn’t really like them, was she, what with her double XX chromosomes. At some point, the mean girls and the Ivy League guys converged. Obama played the Ivies like an impresario. He took advantage of the hostile press towards Clinton.

The rest is history. But that history is biting the women in 2020 in the butt. As Boelert says at the end:

“Given that unfair treatment four years ago, are anxious Democrats today supposed to cross their fingers and hope that journalists won’t repeat the mistakes in 2020? That’s a large leap to make since there has been a near-universal refusal from news outlets to acknowledge clear failures in the 2016 coverage. Indeed, the Clinton coverage represented a gender fiasco. (She shouts! She’s angry! She doesn’t smile enough!) Yet to this day, most journalists don’t want to admit to the deeply sexist media behavior, which created a raging double standard.

To a large degree, today’s concerns aren’t because certain voters don’t want a woman president. It’s because they don’t trust the press to be fair, because the press wasn’t fair in 2016. Bottom line: You can’t discuss electability in 2020 without acknowledging what the press did to the last women nominee.”

That about sums it up. The public doesn’t trust the press to be fair. And lo and behold, it isn’t being fair. It’s definitely screwing Warren and would do the same to Klobuchar if they thought she was a real threat.

And that’s why the donors aren’t flooding Warren with money. In the great scheme of things, Sanders, Buttigieg and Bloomberg carry some pretty serious problems with them to the primaries. Pete is a plastic adolescent, and Sanders and Bloomberg aren’t really Democrats. They seem like they’re more than ready to use the brand for their own ends and voters are picking up on that.

The real threat is Warren because she’s a real Democrat, as much as Clinton was when she ran, and she has a record of achieving what seemed like the impossible. She is more moderate than Sanders, more progressive than Pete and she’s more of a referee to the billionaires. The billionaires don’t like that. So, the press is deep sixing her for the most glaring liability that she has. She’s a woman.

We can’t trust the press to be fair, therefore, voters are screwed out of the best candidate on the ballot. No one is going to donate to a candidate when the press has decided she’s non-viable and then sets out to prove they’re right.

28 Responses

  1. Super PAC launches to support Elizabeth Warren, who has decried the role of super PACs

    “A new super PAC has formed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to boost the presidential bid of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)… Another super PAC has launched to help the candidacy of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who has gained momentum in recent weeks…”


    Women to the rescue?!

  2. Alas, the #1 reason smear campaigns, and other propaganda, work so well is that, in defiance of the laws of mathematics, more than half of white Americans (Disclosure: I am a white American) have below-average intelligence. (Yes, I’m snarking.) 😈

  3. Riveting post! The press has tried turning Hillary’s name into a bad word in this election, trying to use her as bait for other candidates to attack.

    I don’t remember them being so hostile to John Kerry or Al Gore when they lost. They get knighted while Hillary has to deal with Mika Brzezinski types asking “why were you so tense and serious in the campaign?”

  4. I don’t disagree with anything you said. I do think, that as you suggested, Hillary’s “loss” contributed to this narrative of “we can’t afford to nominate another woman,” which is ridiculous. I will say that Warren’s biggest problem has been Sanders. There is just not enough room for two so-called Progressives, Warren needed that role for herself. She cannot outdo Sanders in votes, and probably, aligning herself so closely to him was not a good strategy. She cannot win one primary with Sanders taking votes which might otherwise go to her. She has had her mistakes, like all of them have, but Sanders gets the free pass, like last time.

    The history of the hatred of Hillary is fascinating, though of course dispiriting. She is not someone who grew up in a fancy Eastern suburb, went to the prep schools, She is from a middle class family in Chicago, and she married a man from Arkansas. Sally Quinn and the other cocktail party women of Washington disdained her. Maureen Dowd is pathologically obsessed with her. And yes, the men were part of that, too. I read from some reliable source that if you wanted to have a job at the New York Times writing about politics or government, you had to have bona fides of being part of the Hillary haters’ club. Why that is, is worthwhile to learn, but again, depressing. And you called it just right, they were sure Hillary would win, but they wanted to make it as tattered a victory as possible, so that the Republicans could start trying to hamstring her from her first day in office. What fun that would be! And they got Trump elected, which is awful for all of us, but they still have cushy jobs and get to hang out at parties with the political elites, and Trump will even give them interviews off the record.

    I bet that Nikki Haley could win, and she is awful. Republicans would love to claim the first women president, they could use that forever. As long as you toe the party line, and can get votes, the Republicans will support you, just like they liked Herman Cain. Democrats are always looking for some pure supposed savior figure, and historically, the Lincolns and King Arthurs and FDRs have been men, They so much wanted Obama to fill that role. Even so, Michelle Obama could probably win, at least the nomination. Hillary did win, actually. A woman could win.

    But in this particular primary, no one is “winning,” except for Sanders, because he has his 25-30% cult. The extremes are the place to be, apparently, because you have a guaranteed primary bloc. The rest of them, men and women, are getting nowhere, because they lack that bloc, so they split all the votes among themselves. But they will get their chance to “win” by kicking around Bloomberg tonight, which will insure Sanders the nomination, and mean that all the Democrats will end up in a small group of gallant but always outvoted Congresspeople who cannot effect any desperately needed change. If the moderates would have the political bravery and strategical astuteness to coalesce around one person, whether that might be Biden or Klobuchar or Bloomberg, they could stop Sanders. Without that,all of them will be in a political minority, and probably some of them would not mind much, as long as they can imagine their own political virtuousness. What did football Coach Herman Edwards say in an oft-quoted commercial? “You play to win the game.” Virtuous losses do not help the tens of millions of people who count on the Democratic Party to win elections and thus help them with the things that most matter to their lives.

  5. Good post, but my conclusion is that Klobuchar is much more of a Democrat than Warren or any of those running. She has not deviated from her party affiliation. Not only was Warren a republican previously, she was very slow and lukewarm with her support of Hillary in 2016. As far as I can tell, there was no support of Hillary in 2008. Klobuchar supported Hillary originally in 2008, then went to Obama as most Dems eventually did (moi excepted), but she was a whole-hearted supporter of Hillary in 2016. Granted, Warren is likely the best Dem and best skilled candidate left, with the exception of Klobuchar. My bias is apparent!

    • I’m not holding that against her. She’s a Democrat by choice and I’ve never doubted her commitment. I also can’t hold it against her that she was critical of Hillary.

    • I remember Warren giving fiery speeches in support of Hillary on the campaign stump in 2016, and I remember all the shit she took for endorsing Hillary and not St. Bernard.

  6. RD–I went slumming on St. Ian Welsh’s site again, and some buffoon calling himself “Z” (what, is he Zorro?) 😛 suspects you’re getting paid to be pro-Clinton. 😆 😆 😆

  7. off-topic: Happy 80th Birthday to Motown legend William “Smokey” Robinson!

  8. Bravo, RD! Thank you for saying what needed to be said with the passion and facts you presented!

  9. Tonight, I thought Warren was head and shoulders above the other candidates.

    • Yes! Liz was clearly the winner. The moderator and Pete teamed up against Amy on very petty things. Pete talking down and staring down Amy was so enraging and such obvious misogyny. I can’t believe people can’t see through this.

      • I thought the Latina moderator was awful. She kept acting like momentarily forgetting the name of the President of Mexico was equivalent to keeping little kids in cages on the border.

        • Yes! And then she would cut Amy off and said she didn’t give an answer – she was clearly humble, apologetic and showed her strength on what she does know about Mexico… anyway, count me in the Liz and Amy yaya sisterhood fan club! All in for them! Time to pop open the champagne and celebrate that we have 2 fabulous women running!

          • Seagrl and Sweet Sue,

            I hear ya! The problem is that the media, AGAIN, is totally ignoring Liz’s superior performance last night in comparison to her male counterparts. They, instead, are touting nothing more than the same old stump speech responses we’ve heard from sanders ad nauseum since 2016.

            It’s clear that misogyny has not been diminished since 2016, but appears even stronger now. We are seeing it raise its ugly head against the women in this presidentical race and is doing anything and everything to all but erase these women from the race.

            As in 2016, they have not vetted bernie (or Pete for that matter), nor called him out on not releasing his taxes, his health records or even explain why he has no real specifics on the numbers he is using om his so-called plans. He gets away with not having to answer for any of this. I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhogs Day” Instead of being the 4th Estate and reporting all of the facts on ALL of the candidates, the media has proven itself as bad as Russia when it comes to meddling in the election.

            I hope there really is a super pac of women supporting Warren, if for no other reason other than to level the playing field and give her a fair chance to get her message out to the people. Otherwise, we will be cheated AGAIN ouf of the best candidate for president in favor of a guy who will only hand trump another 4 years in the WH to complete his destruction of America.

            As I’ve said before, men in power appear to be willing to destroy the country rather than have a woman in charge of it. It will be up to women to stop them from succeeding.

          • Kathleen A Wynne,

            They still act like Biden is a front runner despite him finishing 4th and 5th place in both primaries. Liz and Klobuchar our performed him… why is the man in the center of the stage next to Bernie like he’s the one to beat? Enough of the sh*t, they can try to erase Liz (fuckers) but luckily social media is praising her performance and anyone with 2 eyes can she was the clear winner and the most presidential

  10. My guess is there were some semi-powerful women in the DC media who envied Hillary Clinton. They might even be their own little group of Heatherish mean girls

    Why would this have to be a “guess”? Surely you remember Sally Quinn and her portrayal of the Clintons (Hillary, in particular) as uncouth yokels.

    • Because I wasn’t there. And so far, no one in that cabal is talking. We can only see the evidence and trace it back.
      My “guess” is the hive consisted of at least Quinn, MoDo and Andrea Mitchell.

  11. I think that what Warren accomplished in the debate was to virtually guarantee that Sanders will win the nomination–unless somehow Biden rises up again. which is unlikely. By going after Bloomberg on the distracting issue of his company and some women filing sexual harassment or discrimination claims, not against him, but against the company, something which has occurred at every major corporation in the last twenty years, she certainly damaged him, and helped Sanders. She never attacked Sanders, never has in any debate. “I’m with Bernie!” she always says proudly.

    How would Warren have liked it if some other candidate had said of her, in Warren’s tone and cadence, “You lied on your application of employment at Harvard Law School! You wrote that your ancestry is Native American, and it is not! You took that job away from some hardworking young woman or man! Someone who might actually be of minority ancestry! People who work hard and play by the rules, and tell the truth on job applications! That’s what we are fighting for, a country where people do not blatantly lie on job applications, just to get ahead of the honest people!”

    But of course no one would say that to her, even though she has no problem doing it. She loves to take the easy shot, standing up vehemently for this or that, but if someone attacked her in that way, she and her fans would be aghast. All political positions or knowledge of issues are fair game in these debates. I do not much care about Warren lying on a ob application to take advantage of Affirmative Action. I do not much care that some women in a company that Bloomberg owned filed cases against the company, most of which were thrown out. Nor do I care that there were NDAs, which, like them or not, are fairly common in large corporations. I want to hear about all of the candidates’ knowledge and competence to handle crucial matters, such as somehow combating climate change, limiting access to guns, dealing with the exploding deficit, and the absolute trampling of the rule of law by Trump; and how to somehow get legislation, even a Supreme Court nomination, past the McConnell-controlled Senate. That is our existential crisis as a democracy.

    I don’t know if it has been Warren’s goal to help Sanders, or whether it is incidental, but she has done it all along,. She can’t win at this stage, but she has cleared the field for Sanders to win. That is her right, but her self-righteousness is not appropriate, not when she has a major weakness which she certainly would not want to spend fifteen minutes on a debate stage trying to defend. Anyway, she helped herself some, not nearly enough, because she cannot get past Sanders, and the only legitimate way she could get back in strong contention would be to attack him, but she attacked Bloomberg instead. I will also add, that in my opinion, at least 90% of whatever delegates she gathers will go right to Sanders. The votes for the moderates, Biden, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, will likely not go to Sanders. A Sanders nomination loses the election, loses downticket, probably destroys the Democratic Party, ushers in a worse nightmare than we have already been experiencing.

    For me, at least, that’s the overarching issue, and the only result of this debate which is going to matter a year from now. That may sound bitter or harsh, but I think it is tragically accurate, as we lurch ahead to the conclusion of the election cycle. I know that in a country where Republicans will have absolute control of all branches of power, Warren will continue through the years to be dramatically inveighing against it, to no avail, of course. Besides the various speeches, her actual concrete contributions have been to say, “Of course it was!” when asked whether the 2016 primary system was rigged; and to help Sanders win the nomination in 2020. More was required, not just of her, but of all of them, but we are not getting it.

    • Sadly, I have to agree with your analysis! Going after MB was ok, but the majority of the attacks should have been aimed at Bernie. I believe Bernie’s little cabin cost near $600,000. And the value of it was conveniently left off a prior disclosure. And his wife’s financial misdeeds in the course of her job that cost the college she headed to be foreclosed is never mentioned. Bernie is not of the super rich, but his finances are a bit suspect.

    • Hold on there William!

      Everything is not as black and white with Warren as you make it seem. I don’t think you can state with your usual absolute certainty that Warren has ensured sanders would win the nomination. That’s nothing but conjecture on your part because you don’t like Warren. I believe she has more up her sleeve than you give her credit for. But hey, the male run media is not giving her credit for her steller and bold performance last night showing that she can, indeed, take on trump. No, with the media, it’s all about the white guys, even biden who is running behind both Warren and Klobuchar in the polls is still being treated by the media like he’s ahead of them. If it weren’t for the media’s help, joe, pete and bloomberg would be erased from the race.

      Speaking of Warren, she did, however, show what a weak candidate Bloomberg is! Do you still believe he’s the ONLY candidate who can beat trump based on his performance last night or will he be given a pass?

      Quoting Harry Reid today, “the Democratic presidential race is still in the early stages and none of the candidates should be counted out despite Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ early success and lead in national polls…Sanders is leading because he has the most robust organization and has been running for president longer than anyone else. He didn’t start his organization a few months ago. It’s been going on for years, Reid said. A lot can change and a lot will change…”

      And, he added, Warren’s candidacy shouldn’t be ignored. “Don’t count Elizabeth out of the race.”

  12. Maybe she has some kind of implicit understanding with Bernie that she will be his Vice President choice? That is what she is setting herself up for? On the other hand, I do not understand how she could forgive how his Bros went after her. I blame them for her precipitous slide in the poles.

    • Lucyk, I think there has been some kind of understanding between them, whatever it is. Warren never criticizes Sanders on any policy or his own history. I think that Sanders duped her into somehow thinking that this was a mutually advantageous pact. I know that, as lililam mentioned above, she never endorsed Hillary until all the primaries were over and Sanders had finally reluctantly conceded defeat. Someone claimed today that this is her strategy: get rid of Bloomberg and other moderates, and then go after Sanders. Far too little, far too late to do that. Yes, VP is possible, she would be the only “name” Democrat who would be willing to join Sanders on his ticket; otherwise it’s someone like Gabbard or Nina Turner. ,or maybe some Congressional supporter like Ro Khanna.

  13. We’ve got the “rule of law” being trampled on more and more each day. Antarctica is melting, fires rage across the globe. The NRA still holds sway. Criminals are being let out of prison as some kind of a game. The DOJ is getting ready to carry out some kind of purge of Trump’s enemies. And the Democrats want to debate whether money should be in politics, and workplace protocols. Interesting issues, those, but so dreadfully inapposite to where we are right now. We have debates as an opportunity to get our messages across, and they, with the help of the absolutely awful panelists, turn into seminars on political correctness.

    We can argue those things all we want, but can anyone really contend that they are the central ones right now? But we cannot resist taking the virtue-signaling opportunities. One could contend that this is what is crippling the Democratic chances, at least on the national level. Where is Al Franken? Where is Katie Hill? Sacrificed to the flames of self-righteousness, while Republicans laugh demonically. Maybe we can start going after Bill again because of Monica. “It was wrong!” And “Hillary really shouldn’t have said “deplorables.'” “And how quick were some of the Democrats to defend Tulsi Gabbard from Hillary’s comments about her? It is like the party is so dedicated to making sure to speak up for all people at all times, that we completely diffuse our potential energy, and we end up not helping any of them, because we achieve no political power.

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