By Julia Lerner
One of the co-authors of “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” spoke at a book talk Nov. 29 to university students, faculty and alumni in Knight Hall.
Jonathan Allen, a co-author of The New York Times #1 bestseller and an alumnus of this university, appeared at the school for a political discussion about Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in a panel co-hosted by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Amie Parnes, Allen’s co-author, was slated to be a part of the panel, but did not attend.
The panel was moderated by Margaret Talev in Eaton Theater. In addition to being an alumna from this university, Talev is also the White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and President of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Initially, Talev led the discussion by asking Allen about the reporting process for “Shattered,” and how Clinton’s loss altered the book. Allen had a lot of negative comments about Clinton’s failed campaign — and few positive ones.
In the book, Allen and Parnes “looked at the three major flaws” that plagued her campaign. Those flaws, Allen said, were her emails, her message and her overreliance on data.
After the scandal first leaked, Clinton “spent the entire summer [in 2015] not addressing her emails,” Allen said. “Clinton yelled at her staff ‘People aren’t talking about my policies, they’re talking about my emails.’”
According to the author, Clinton lost all credibility due to her unwillingness to discuss the emails with the electorate. “Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is running a campaign on how he’s the most trustworthy man in the world,” Allen said.
Beyond the emails, Clinton’s campaign struggled because of her message. The campaign failed to “come up with an aspirational campaign message that was about the people and wasn’t about her,” Allen said. “‘I’m with her’? It’s about her. She said she was running for president because she thought she would do the best job,” not because she wanted to help the people.
Allen had some compliments for the way Clinton ran her campaign. Particularly, Clinton’s “ability to take over the Democratic party … is incredible,” Allen said. Additionally, “her delegate strategy in the primary was incredibly effective” and “She killed it in the debates. She was an incredibly effective debater … I think she beat Trump in all the debates, though her charisma leaves something to be desired.”
Prior to the election, Allen was worried about the perception of the book. “We thought this would be a book about how Clinton won despite all these things she did wrong,” he told the audience. “We take the reader through the events of the campaign as they’re happening, ignoring the outcome. It’s foreboding.”
Because the book already focused on the issues with Clinton’s campaign, it was much easier to edit after the election, Allen said. “The nice thing is we didn’t have to go back and tear stuff up after the election. … But there was a difference between the book written if she wins and the book written if she loses.”
Part of the problem, though, was that “everyone in the media thought she was going to be the next president,” he said. “And one of the jobs of the presidential candidate is to figure out how to play the media. Donald Trump is great at it. Hillary Clinton is not.”
Throughout the discussion, Allen cited Clinton’s unforgiving nature, referencing “The Hillary Hitlist” and her husband’s campaign against other democrats. “The Clintons are particularly vindictive,” said Allen. “People were afraid of the cost of going against her.”
Despite Clinton saying she will not run again, Allen says “[Hillary Clinton] is not going away anytime soon.”
For now, Allen said he believes the Democrats need to figure out their direction for the next election cycle. “There’s a Yiddish word for when you’re so lost, you don’t know how lost you are. That’s where the Democrats are.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Julia Lerner is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.