The knives are out for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
And The Hill just served up a whole drawer full of them.
Without identifying who is wielding the weapons.
That’s how unnamed sources use the press to bloody their target.
There is no doubt that Wasserman Schultz has become a highly controversial chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She has pretty obviously tilted toward the establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, and is now at war with Bernie Sanders and his supporters. I’m sure some Dems would love to dump her.
But does that mean someone should be allowed to say this, without his or her name attached?
“‘There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on,’ said one pro-Clinton Democratic senator.”
Kind of a nauseating image, by the way.
The same anonymous senator is quoted as saying, “How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts.”
Then there’s a “senior Senate Democratic aide” who says, “There’s a strong sentiment that the current situation is untenable and can only be fixed by her leaving.”
But it’s not fair to say the Hill piece has no on-the-record comments. A whole bunch of senators--Barbara Mikulski, Bill Nelson, Tim Kaine, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeanne Shaneen—are quoted as backing Wasserman Schultz’s tenure. There are also statements of support from House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. But these are at the bottom of the piece, after this to-be-sure phrase: “The view that Wasserman Schultz should go in the name of party unity isn’t unanimous.”
Naturally, the Hill piece reverberated across the media landscape, including Fox News, adding to the sense that Wasserman Schultz is in serious jeopardy. The story eventually says she has no plans to step down and no decision will be made soon.
I doubt the Democrats would dump their chairman just before the Philadelphia convention. Wouldn’t that make Hillary look weak, like she had to mollify the Bernie faction to save the convention from disruption?
Sanders is going after the Florida congresswoman big time, even endorsing her primary opponent, Tim Canova, who has gotten a fundraising windfall. Wasserman Schultz insists she’s been neutral in the presidential contest, although by initially allowing just six debates—and burying them on Saturday nights and in holiday periods—she certainly seemed to be helping Clinton sit on her lead. More debates were added only when Hillary wanted the faceoffs as Sanders surged.
Now if Sanders somehow won the nomination, it would be routine for him to install his own person at the DNC. But Clinton has an insurmountable lead.
In the end, much of this is inside baseball. Whether Debbie Wasserman Schultz remains head of the party won’t affect 50 votes in November. But Bernie and his backers want her banished, and their weapon of choice, for now, is leaking to the press.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.