The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

New Hampshire paper blasts Hillary Clinton campaign for lame conference call

Philippe Reines and Hillary Clinton in May 2011.

The “background call” is a staple of contemporary American politics. A message-shaping tool, it involves spinmeisters telling a group of reporters about their strategies on the condition that their names not be used. It’s the launching pad of those quotes you see in the media citing a “senior campaign official” or a “White House official” and so on.

Too rarely do the shenanigans of the “background call” get called out. But that’s precisely what the the Telegraph of Nashua, N.H., did today in a searing editorial ripping the paltry information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign dished under the cover of anonymity. Here’s a look:

Clinton operatives held a conference call about efforts the campaign is making to bulk up a social media outreach campaign and plans to build working groups that are – get this – based on specific issues rather than the traditional county-by-county breakdown.
We’ll give you a moment to recover from the impact of such revelatory news.

There was no reason to report any of the “news” from the call, noted the editorial. Except for the existence of the tepid call itself. The editorial ripped away:

“Everyone has a story, and connecting that story to their support for this campaign is something that is as crucial and important and something that people want to do – people want to tell those stories,” said a top official with the national campaign.
They needed anonymity for that? Really?

Another bonus came from a Clinton strategist, who said that New Hampshire voters “would be seeing a lot of (Clinton) in the months ahead.”

The killer line: “Anonymity, as a matter of course and for its own sake, is part of the culture in Washington, not New Hampshire.” The Erik Wemple Blog can confirm the part about Washington.

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