From political circles in New York City to cocktail parties on Capitol Hill, on right-of-center Facebook pages and among left-of-center donors, two of the biggest untethered threads in New York politics are being drawn together around a single question.Right -- the story appeared at Right Wing News, a site that seemed semi-credible in the early days of blogging but is now devoted to clickbait and lots of all-caps headline words. Under the header "News Of A Possible Hillary Run For Mayor In THIS State Is BREAKING THE INTERNET!" we read this at Right Wing News on November 19:
Would Hillary Clinton run for mayor?
... A run for mayor of New York this year would pit Mrs. Clinton against Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who managed her Senate campaign in 2000....
The suggestion that Mrs. Clinton might run for mayor has been bubbling up for weeks. It appeared on a right-wing website in the days after the election and was then floated by a Fox Business Network commentator.
... now it is looking like there is another rumor out there that just might be the biggest surprise of all. Rumors are flying around that Hillary Clinton might be considering running for mayor of New York City. I honestly do not see this ever happening. But people are still talking about it.But there are no links to "people ... still talking about it" anywhere in the story. There's just a screenshot of two tweets:
The first one is from this in-the-know insider:
Gene has a whopping seven followers on Twitter -- though one follower, curiously, is the account for the Koch group Americans for Prosperity.
The second tweet in the screenshot is from a pro-Trump Twitter egg with 157 followers.
A post actually appeared a day earlier at the website of former congressman and war criminal Allen West; it also had no supporting links, but it included the same screenshot that's in the Right Wing News story, plus this one:
The first tweeter is a lawyer named Michael Wm. Lebron who tweets and podcasts under the Madonna-esque single name Lionel. According to the bio on Lionel's website,
9/11 ... [is] indelibly seared on Lionel’s conscious [sic] and it marked a drastic change and course correction in his view of the roles of geopolitics, globalism, central banking, the media’s role in framing issues. It forged an appreciation into the darker aspects of history and has made him, as Gore Vidal suggested, an avowed conspiracy analyst versus theorist. Lionel is an ardent and voracious consumer of alternative and foreign news sourcing....Yeah, he seems reliable.
The other tweeter is one more Trumper.
The clip cited in the Times story is from just after Thanksgiving. It's a discussion between Stewart Varney of Fox Business and faux-Democrat hatemonger Tammy Bruce.
Bruce tells Varney that this hot scoop comes from "a discussion amongst people who, uh, would know." Authoritative enough for me!
But Chozick and coauthor J. David Goodman insist the story should really be taken semi-seriously now:
... the speculation mounted on Thursday, after a conservative media outlet, Newsmax, reported that some Democrats were urging Mrs. Clinton to run. Newsmax is owned by Christopher Ruddy, a former opponent of Mr. Clinton’s who became a friend and donor, joining the former president on a Clinton Foundation trip to Africa and at other times.Of course, Clinton is out of the Senate, out of the Obama administration, and unlikely ever to be president, so former enemy Ruddy has no reason to butter her up anymore. Why not go back to old-fashioned clickbait-y right-wing rumormongering?
Or maybe the fake news in the November stories actually took on a life of its own and Clinton is seriously thinking about it, or at least trying to convey the impression that she's thinking about it, for whatever reason. The Newsmax story claims actual insider sources, though they're anonymous, of course:
she is being urged by major Democratic donors and leaders to make a bid ...The Chozick-Goodman story says:
"She's talking about it," a former city Democratic elected official admitted to Newsmax over the weekend, saying the idea has not been dismissed by the former first lady's inner circle.
... supporters of Mrs. Clinton and former members of her staff appear to have been happy to let the speculation spread from closed-door gatherings of donors and allies, where it has been discussed among the many hypothetical future jobs Ms. Clinton might pursue, to more public forums.So maybe she's having fun with this now.
And we're supposed to take the story seriously because political insiders now take it seriously, even the ones who'd have no idea whether it's true:
It was also being discussed in Washington as Congress convened this week.Well, sure -- people on the right think Fox is a legitimate news source. And many GOP Congress members and staffers are avid, gullible consumers of right-wing media propaganda. So it's no surprise that a lot of them believe (and may have persuaded some Democrats to believe).
“I heard it three times in the two days I was on the Hill,” said Bradley Tusk, a former top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who has been actively courting potential challengers to Mr. de Blasio.
It's not going to happen, as Chozick and Goodman acknowledge:
... the answer would almost certainly be no....Nevertheless, we're now supposed to believe fake news spread by some randos on Twitter -- either on their own or because they were asked to, in order to generate right-wing clickbait or to stir dissension among Democrats.
Mr. Tusk ... said he did not believe she would run.
“The reality is that she’s not going to,” Mr. Tusk said....
People close to Mrs. Clinton said that she had not given much thought to what she would do next, but that she was almost certainly not interested in being mayor. They cited Mr. Bloomberg’s suggestion, before the 2013 mayoral race, that she run to succeed him as mayor. It was an idea, they said, that she politely, but promptly, dismissed.
Let's not forget that Chozick went viral in 2008 with a Wall Street Journal story in which she questioned whether Barack Obama was too skinny to be elected president -- a hypothesis she cadged from a John McCain press release, and which she supported by citing message-board commenters she actively solicited, then cited as if their comments were spontaneously expressed opinions. Fake news wasn't invented yesterday.