“While Hillary Clinton fights to break down barriers and bring America together, the Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force will serve as a resource for supporters looking for positive content and push-back to share with their online progressive communities, as well as thanking prominent supporters and committed superdelegates on social media.” It goes on to explain that the task force will be staffed with “former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers, Ready for Hillary alumni, and Hillary super fans” ready to push back against Clinton’s attackers on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.
Or, as the New York Daily News explained, the group is “an online mob of paid trolls designed to attack any and every person who says one crossword about Hillary Clinton on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, or elsewhere.” The political group says it has put $1 million behind its fight for the comments section. Bernie Sanders campaign has said they’ve spent approximately $0 for online commentary so far. As Sanders campaign’s rapid response director Mike Casca explained to the Daily Beast, “Come on, man, really?”
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Throughout the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders has run without the support of Super-PACs and big money interests, instead of relying on a grassroots effort and ripping the traditional campaign financing methods. The Breaking Barriers campaign is the epitome of a broken campaign finance system dominated by Super PACs, which Correct the Record claims not to be.
Correct the Record is a “Carey committee,” or a “hybrid PAC,” according to FactCheck.org. Meaning that it has two accounts, one that can accept unlimited donations for independent expenditures like a Super-PAC and one for contributions to candidates. Of course, Bernie Sanders has his own share of online trolls. The Bernie Bros have come to symbolize the rudest supporters after they attacked women supporters of Hillary Clinton. Likewise, some supporters have taken to harassing superdelegates who have pledged their support to the former Secretary of State.
The essential difference is Bernie Sanders has publicly denounced the attacks and has no direct connection to the provocateurs; Clinton will have a direct line with her trolls. That’s because Correct the Record can coordinate directly with the Clinton campaign. According to the group, unlike a normal Super-PAC, it can do so because “it does not plan to spend money to run ads. Instead, the PAC intends to use its website and social media platforms to counter claims made about Clinton.”
The Washington Post reports that the organization relies on a 2006 Federal Election Commission regulation that exempts Internet content from the campaign finance restrictions. With Barrier Breakers 2016, they’re set to drive a freight truck through the loophole originally intended to help small independent groups. The group also claims that it will use its commentators only for defense, which seems unlikely given its leader.
Correct the Record is run by David Brock, who has earned himself titles such as “right-wing political assassin, turned left-wing political assassin.” In 1992, he rose to infamy by viciously attacking Anita Hill, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s assistant, who accused the judge of sexual harassment and lewd behavior. She was played by Kerry Washington in the HBO movie Confirmation, detailing Thomas’s controversial rise to the high court.
In 2001, he confessed to lying and disavowed his disingenuous tactics. He explained he used “virtually every derogatory and often contradictory allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix.” ” I demonized Democratic senators, their staffs, and Hill’s feminist supporters without ever interviewing any of them.” For the 2016 election cycle, he decided to use his talents to attack Bernie Sanders. According to the Washington Post, earlier this year, he said “black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders,” accused him of not being healthy enough for the office, and said “he’s a socialist. Think about what the Republicans will do with the fact that he’s a socialist in the fall.”
Bernie Sanders has said that Clinton should be ashamed of her association with him. He’s probably right, but the connection has helped the Sanders campaign. In August last year, the organization launched an attack on Sanders, according to the Huffington Post, attempting to link the Vermont senator with British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn (who called Osama Bin Laden’s death a tragedy) and Hugo Chavez.
The email was blatantly misleading.
The attack was so negative that Bernie Sanders received $1.2 million from small donors as a result. The latest online negative campaign could be another boon for the senator. As the only non-Trump candidate without big-money donors, a vote for Bernie Sanders has become a referendum against murky campaign finance – the kind Brock and his organization embraces and exploits. Sometimes it’s easy to forget those problems exist, but thanks to Barrier Breakers, people will have reminders waiting on their social media accounts all the time.