David Brock, who was once active in the conservative movement but eventually became a key supporter of Hillary and Bill Clinton, said in an interview with POLITICO that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump because “she was poorly advised.” Besides leading left-wing MediaMatters, which calls itself a media watchdog of the right, Brock also operated the pro-Clinton super PAC “Correct the Record,” which provides opposition research. Speaking to POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush
, Brock assessed the performance of Clinton’s campaign staff but also took the media to task for its coverage of the election. He referred to members of the media as “animals.”
Among the reasons he cited for Clinton’s defeat, however, Brock did not mention FBI Director James Comey nor the still roiling rumors over supposed Russian interference in the election that is alleged to have favored Trump’s victory. In that case, U.S. intelligence agencies and the FBI differ widely.
“I say she was poorly advised,” Brock said. “There was a slow-motion swift boating of Hillary Clinton in ’15. I know you think Democrats would have learned from ’04, but no.” He also criticized the Clinton campaign’s use of digital media and for ineffectively combating Sen. Bernie Sanders. “What could one have done?” Brock asked rhetorically. He said that “the lesson of the Swift-boating thing was to lean in.” Brock also said that Clinton's online strategy was inadequate and that he advised Bill Clinton of his concerns early this year.
Brock appeared frequently on television, especially CNN, to defend Clinton during the many scandals that broke during her campaign. However, during media interviews, Brock refused to ever acknowledge any wrongdoing by Clinton after the use of her private email server during her tenure as secretary of state was revealed. Brock told the interviewer that Clinton should have said, “‘This was allowed.'” He continued, saying, “I wouldn’t have apologized. Once you apologize, then the press wants you to get down on your knees and say you’re sorry. They are not appeasable. Trump apologized for nothing, including the horrible tape, right? No apology.”
Brock gave credit to Donald Trump’s campaign for its response to the release of an “Access Hollywood” video from 2005 in which Trump was recorded by a hot mic and spoke in vulgar terms about women. “My sister voted for Donald Trump and her response was, ‘It was locker room talk,'” Brock said. “So it worked. My sister got the talking point, OK?”
He blamed the media for not adequately addressing Trump’s foibles. “Donald Trump intimidated the press and bullied the press. I’m not saying you have to intimidate and bully, but you have to be tough,” he said. “The press are animals and they need to be treated that way.”
Brock said that prospects are grim for Democrats right now. “We’re in a bad situation, the Democratic Party,” he said. “Hillary Clinton’s loss has exposed the lack of Democratic power in this country at all levels.” He said that because Clinton won the popular vote, Democrats should act as though they did. He also made plain what the Democrats’ strategy is. “The strategy is to keep Trump unpopular and let me tell you why we need to keep him unpopular.”
Brock got emotional during his exchange with journalist Thrush. His former boyfriend, James Alefantis, owns the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Washington, which became the focus of rumors that it was the hub of a supposed pedophile ring operated by the Clinton organization. Last week, a man armed with a rifle entered the restaurant and fired several shots, allegedly to unveil evidence about the supposed sex-trafficking operation. Alefantis has received multiple death threats as a result of the rumors.
Brock said, “We lived together for 10 years in a relationship that ended five years ago.” He told Thrush, “James has his own relationship with John Podesta and in the WikiLeaks, it came out that James had written to John about doing a Hillary fundraiser at Comet. So this was seen and a conspiracy theory was woven around it and what you had was kind of an insane crowdsourcing of the issue and they found the link to me pretty quickly. So I think it added fuel to the fire. And so it's frightening, though, because the fake news and I saw it firsthand. It has real consequences.”
Brock’s voice broke with emotion in the podcast interview while Thrush sought to reassure him. “So… James came to my house last Thursday night, so a week ago, to show me the latest death threats on his phone and they were so vile and so menacing — it's very upsetting,” he said. “I’m scared,” he said.
“I thought something bad could happen,” Brock said. “So anyway, the good news is nobody got hurt,” Brock said after apparently calming down. “And I think that all the attention is, like, a way of staying safe.”