Clinton super PAC declares $1M social-media war on Sanders supporters

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC-BY) Max Fleishman

Things are about to get ugly.

A super PAC supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign will invest $1 million to combat supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) online, the group announced this week. 

Correct the Record, a super PAC led by Democratic heavyweight David Brock, founder of progressive media watchdog Media Matters, will spend $1 million in a campaign to counteract “misleading narratives about Secretary Hillary Clinton,“ the group said in a press release.

Brock is the former head of Priorities USA—Hillary Clinton’s primary super PAC—which he resigned from abruptly one year ago. The group is infamous for a 2012 TV ad blaming former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for a woman's death, a claim PolitiFact rated as “False.”

In February 2014, Politico reported that Brock had resigned from Priorities USA while accusing the group of orchestrating “a political hit job” against other pro-Clinton groups, including Media Matters. 

Regardless, Priorities USA donated $1 million to Correct the Record last year, according to Open Secrets. 

“Lessons learned from online engagement with ‘Bernie Bros’ during the Democratic Primary will be applied to the rest of the primary season and general election–responding quickly and forcefully to negative attacks and false narratives,” Correct the Record said in a statement.

The group added that it would “begin to push out information to Sanders supporters online, encouraging them to support Hillary Clinton” in the general election. (Clinton has not yet received her party’s nomination, though she maintains a significant delegate lead over Sanders, who suffered a devastating 14-point primary loss in New York on Tuesday.)

Correct the Record said its so-called “Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force” is a direct response to “cyber-bullying and sexist attacks” on Clinton’s supporters. The group has “addressed” more than 5,000 people online who have “personally attacked” Clinton, it said.

Sanders supporters on Reddit, where the candidate is bolstered by a network of over 100 individual pro-Sanders communities, which have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the campaign, are bracing for what they’re calling an “expected influx of unwelcomed content” from the pro-Clinton PAC. 

In a viral post on Thursday, an r/SandersforPresident moderator warned redditors about potential astroturfing tactics:

The pro-Clinton PAC has also created a website called “Thank a Delegate” in a direct response to the pro-Sanders website called “Superdelegate List,” which was created, it says, for the purpose of holding “party officials accountable.” 

When the pro-Sanders website initially launched, it was titled “Superdelegate Hit List.” Clinton supporters said the name implied a call to violence. Meanwhile, the pro-Sanders site asserts its creation is a response to “Hillary’s Hit List,” a 2014 Politico article about a secret “political hit list” allegedly maintained by the Clinton family.

The “Thank a Delegate” website allows Clinton supporters to tweet appreciation for superdelegates who’ve vowed to support Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on July 25. The tweets include the hashtags #barrierbreakers2016 and #ImWithHer.

In the Democratic Party, superdelegates are unelected officials permitted to cast ballots for the candidate of their choice at the party’s nominating convention, regardless of primary election results. At time of writing, Clinton maintains 502 superdelegates over Sanders’s 38.

Correct the Record did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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