By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
Thanks to The Associated Press, I was awake well past midnight on Wednesday morning watching a series of non-events come to a grateful conclusion. I wanted to see the speeches, especially Bernie’s, which came after 1:00 am; they were the one thing the “news” media couldn’t screw up. How did Tuesday’s primaries become non-events? Because The Associated Press on Monday night, straight out of the blue, declared Secretary Clinton to be the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Wait, what? Yeah, they did that. They polled a bunch of Democratic Party elites — “superdelegates” — and decided Clinton had enough delegates to call it a day. The margin? One delegate. Five primaries and a caucus that would have decided the race fair and square 24 hours later got tossed into the dustbin because the AP wanted the hot take, the big scoop, and in doing so broke a cardinal rule of journalism: They became the story instead of reporting the story.
The “news” media’s reaction to that declaration was like tossing a live hand grenade into a hedge filled with chickadees: lots of squawking and flapping and smoke and a ringing in the ears from the explosion. All the AP had to do was wait a day. They didn’t, and it was a mess. Beyond the impact on the presidential side, there are the down-ticket races to consider. The AP’s little wingding certainly depressed voter turnout across the board — exactly 354 people voted in the North Dakota Democratic caucus on Tuesday — and that depressed turnout affected down-ticket races all over the country.
Sanders supporters by and large have been reading the writing on the wall for a while. All they wanted was the opportunity to die on their feet, to take it to the end and let the chips fall. Now? They’re pissed and feeling cheated. We’re deciding nominees through polls of party elites? It was as undemocratic an act as I have ever witnessed after Bush v. Gore and the shenanigans in Ohio in 2004, and there will be consequences down the line, especially for Clinton. Good luck bringing Bernie’s folks into the fold for the big push to November after that crud. It was disgraceful.