CARL DIGGLER EXCLUSIVE: Behind the Scenes of the Clinton Digital Team At (Social Media) War

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I pass unnoticed through the skull-lined entryway of Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn. This is odd. The last time I visited I was met by a phalanx of NYPD officers paid for by the 1994 Crime Bill. Before that, my pal Huma gave me European-style cheek kisses, which I later learned from various message boards are not a signal of romantic interest.

Today, there’s no one at all to greet me in the torchlit antechamber, where rows of big Retina-screen iMacs lie dormant. On some of the monitors are open Photoshop documents, with deconstructed images of Hillary’s portrait and rough draft slogans like “Dangerous Donald is OFF Fleek” and “Dat Boi Wants Workfare Incentives For Paying Off Student Loan Debt.”

I hear chanting coming from somewhere inside the building. By the dim torchlight I grope my way deep into the bowels of this cavernous warehouse. I wander through dark stairwells, past conference rooms and ominous totems, cautiously making way into the sub-basement.

As I approach the inner sanctum, the chant of “I’M WITH HER I’M WITH HER” grows deafening. There is a flickering green glow ahead of me. I suffer brief flashbacks to my ill-fated 1995 visit to Phil Gramm’s Campaign Labyrinth.

Trembling, I draw open a portcullis and walk into a massive circular chamber with a vaulted ceiling roughly shaped like a beehive. There are perhaps 1000 campaign workers here wearing crimson cloaks engaging in the unholy chant. Dotted around the room are braziers burning with massive green flames the height of men.

In the center of the room is an ashen pit on which an elaborate wooden frame has been constructed. Strapped on top of the pile of tinder is none other than Maester Pike, messaging guru and longtime Clinton ally who oversees the campaign’s New Media team.

The chanting subsides. Three figures step before the pit and remove their hoods. I recognize them from my earlier visits. They’re Rendon Lau, chief digital strategist; Norm Edison, one-handed social media director; and Haley Boyle, Hillsphere blogger.

A few weeks ago they were working under Maester Pike, but it seems there’s been a reorganization.

Rendon takes out of his robes a slimy, unhallowed grimoire labeled “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND WORK OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 1996” and begins reading from it.

“Stop! I’m only 72!” Maester yells through big heaving sobs. “Please! You don’t have to do this!”

Rendon finishes reading the statute about lazy Cadillac moms then lights a torch from a green brazier.

“So says Bill, so says Her.”

“Amen,” say the cultists in unison.

“Maester Pike, you have reached your 75th Hillaryear.”

“It’s not so! I’m only 72!” he pleads.

“Our Lady Hillary, The One True President, Goddess of the Light, is committed to responsible entitlement reform. WE are committed. All Warriors in Her Name would rather perish in the flames than draw Social Security benefits from an underfunded welfare system in dire need of reform from a mother and grandmother.”

I see the blinking red arrow embedded in Maester’s right hand. The New Media strategist must have been lying about his age.

“IT’S NOT UNDERFUNDED!” Maester screams. “PLEASE! I BEG YOU! YOUNG WORKERS PAY INTO IT TO SUPPORT OLDER GENERATIONS!!!”

“You are offered a knight’s funeral, and you use your last words to commit heresy?” Rendon spits. “You could have died a Hillary Man. Instead I commit you to Hell, as a Nader Bro.”

Hisses fill the chamber. My reporter’s instinct kicks in, and I take out my notebook and go up to the nearest hooded figure to solicit a juicy quote about her campaign’s ritual murder of a elderly man.

As Rendon sets the torch to the tinder, we all hear whistles. Into the chamber comes a royal litter carried by four burly Hillary Men in full armor. The litter is totally enclosed, covered with the logos of various corporations and lobbyists. I see AIPAC, Exxon, RJR Reynolds, Academi, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, and Citibank.

The Hillary Men place the litter on the ground, and the door slides open. A middle aged woman wearing gilded silk finery comes out. Her ensemble is embroidered with even more logos, kind of like a NASCAR driver, logos from organizations like BP, Union Carbide, the World Bank, and NASCAR.

“It’s nice to see you have time for such ornate rituals while one of your Lords is being defamed.” she says. “In the IDF, the world’s most moral army, and Citibank, a financial institution that places the achievements of PoC first, they would not let this stand, Rendon.”

As a Beltway Insider, of course I recognize her. It’s key Hillaryland denizen Nina Tallon, President of Progressive Reform And Triangulation (PRAT), a leftwing think tank that fights for private sector solutions for working class people that are acceptable to the business community.

“My lady, what has happened?” gasps Rendon.

“One of the dudebros has told me to ‘put that in my pipe and smoke it,’” Nina says, holding her phone above her head with the offending tweet from “@MarkFunkebacher.”

Several of the men in hoods start wailing and pounding the walls surrounding them.

Rendon drops to his knees.

“In what context…my lady?”

“Does it matter what context it was in? 3M has a solution that your family wants now, not later. Wells Fargo is proud to bring you Black History Month Mortgages,” she replies scornfully.

“You’re right…you’re right.”

“I know of this @MarkFunkebacher,” avers Haley. “He is the leader of a Bernie Bro-inspired gang of harassers that has used to Twitter to target people and their cats since 2002.”

Norm shouts to the crowd.

“Saying ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it’ refers to a ribald act of sexual deviance. That’s how they defame people brave enough to support The One True President,” he says. The crowd chants “THIS! JUST THIS!” in agreement.

“‘Pipe’ is the same as saying that male sexual organ. Disgusting,” Rendon says ruefully.

“You know what to do, Rendon. Nike: Just Do It,” Nina commands. “This Mark character is a manager at Office Depot. Your work is cut out for you.”

“Initiate Gideon Protocol,” Rendon barks.

The team produces netbooks from their robes and begin typing furiously. They hum Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” the unofficial anthem for House Clinton as they work.

“Wow, I thought @OfficeDepot taught their managers not to tell women about their pipes. #NotAGoodLook #Gender,” Rendon types.

I look over on Norm’s screen.

“Was going to #take #my #daughter to Office Depot for school supplies. Not while @MarkFunkebacher works there,” it reads.

I watch Haley’s screen as she rapidly types out a multipage iPhone Note detailing the times she was harassed by a “Mark FunkeBro” in the past 20 years and citing several dreams where someone resembling Mark tortured her cats.

It’s amazing to see a campaign coordinate its “on message” social media presence in real time. I think other candidates could really take a note here.

*******

The oculus at the top of the chamber opens to let out the smoke from the pyre. Maester’s screams have subsided, and his body has disappeared within the eerie green conflagration.

The robed Hillary Men are exhausted, lying on the ground hunched over the netbooks, having spent literal minutes at war on social media.

Norm, who is stumbling and weak like a punch-drunk boxer, says to Rendon, “M-maybe this @MarkFunkebacher isn’t the real enemy. What… what if spending all this energy discrediting our leftist opponents is a waste of our resources when Donald Trump’s support–“

“SUCCESS!” screams Rendon. “Office Depot has just fired @MarkFunkebacher… WITHOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS!”

The chamber erupts in cheers. Haley drops to her knees and kisses the stub where Norm’s hand used to be.

Nina genuflects. “By Hillary! By Hillary! The Iron Dome missile defense system keeps civilians safe at a small cost to taxpayers!!”

A yelp breaks through the cheers.

“GUARD THE LADY! GUARD OUR LADY” Norm shouts.

“What is it? Speak!” spits Rendon.

Norm holds his phone above his head.

“Jim Carrey, the man who once entranced America with his antics as ‘Liar Liar’ has Tweeted positively about the Pretender Jill Stein.”

Air raid sirens nearly deafen me as the men hurl off their cloaks and sprint to HillaryArmory. As they run, I see their eyes fill with tears of rage, no doubt remembering cruel glimpses of Ralph Nader.

In the panic, I find an exit chute onto the street, landing firmly on my rear end in front of an opportunistically-placed Shake Shack.

**********

As I enjoy my Shack-cago Dog and Mast Brothers Bean To Shake Toffee/Chile concoction, I think about my day with the Hillary Men. No one could ever accuse them of being insufficiently dedicated, but is it possible they’re in a bit of an echo chamber? Maybe going after Office Depot employees and Jim Carrey is a waste of time as Donald Trump has started to beat Hillary Clinton in some polls? Perhaps they’re a bunch of strange hangers-on with a litany of pathologies and creepy grudges they’ve been nursing since 1988?  

Maybe, or maybe not! Time will tell, Digheads!

Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at carl@cafe.com or Tweet to @carl_diggler. And check out his predictions at SixThirtyEight.

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