David Brock, the former conservative journalist turned Democratic operative, says that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, in part, because she was “poorly advised” by her campaign.
Brock, who heads the group Media Matters and operated the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, offered that candid assessment and others in a podcast interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush.
In addition to slamming Clinton’s professional campaign hands, Brock acknowledged that his own sister voted for Donald Trump. He also blasted the media over its coverage of the campaign, calling the press “animals.”
Notably, Brock did not blame FBI director James Comey or Russian cyber attacks for Clinton’s loss, as have some campaign veterans.
“I say she was poorly advised,” Brock told Thrush of Clinton. “There was a slow-motion swift boating of Hillary Clinton in ’15. I know you think Democrats would have learned from ’04, but no.”
“What could one have done?” the operative continued, adding that “the lesson of the swift boating thing was to lean in.”
Brock was a prominent figure throughout the campaign. He appeared often on TV to defend Clinton over the various scandals that plagued her candidacy. During those appearances he refused, often to the exasperation of his hosts, to acknowledge that Clinton did anything wrong by using a private email server as secretary of state.
“She should have just said, in my opinion, ‘This was allowed,'” Brock told Thrush. “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 also took aim at the Clinton campaign’s digital operations and at what he said was a lack of a strategy to combat Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Brock, who rose to prominence in the 1990s with a series of anti-Bill Clinton stories for The American Spectator, said he talked to the former president in January or February about the need to beef up the campaign’s online operations.
“I talked to him about the fact that the campaign had no discernable online strategy,” Brock told Thrush. “I said, ‘There’s something wrong in the digital operation because it’s not connecting. Sanders is connecting.’ They were slow to realize Sanders was connecting. And I said, ‘Something has to be done.’ And so nothing was done.”
Brock begrudgingly tipped his hat to the Trump campaign for its handling of the release of an “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005 in which Trump was heard speaking in vulgar terms about women. The campaign’s efforts to paint the comments as benign locker room banter worked on his own sister, Brock admitted.
“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?”
But he also took a shot at the media for, he says, allowing Trump to shape coverage of him.
“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.”
He also acknowledged that Democrats’ position is bleak.
“We’re in a bad situation, the Democratic Party,” Brock said. “Hillary Clinton’s loss has exposed the lack of Democratic power in this country at all levels.”
“But we won the popular vote; we ought to act like it,” he added. “And so I think the strategy is — it’s pretty simple. The strategy is to keep Trump unpopular and let me tell you why we need to keep him unpopular.”