Reporters covering Hillary Clinton’s campaign, who were herded around like cattle during a Fourth of July parade, should take a page from the Reddit community’s book, and demand better treatment.
Clinton and Ellen Pao, Reddit’s CEO, are a lot alike. They both refuse to answer questions about controversies, and treat those that are voluntarily working for them badly. After Reddit fired a popular administrator Victoria Taylor on Thursday, Pao refused to answer questions about Taylor’s termination. Pao’s decision to remain silent for days was very Clinton-esque. (Remember that time when she tried to pass off a speech as an interview?)
Reddit under Pao’s leadership has a reputation of communicating poorly with its moderators, many of whom work for the company on a voluntary basis. Clinton also abuses those who voluntarily help her. She doesn’t pay many of her campaign support staff, and she also has denied reporters access to the restroom, and corralled them with ropes to keep them at a distance from her.
In protest of Taylor’s dismissal, much of the site went dark several days ago, as moderators set the sites largest subreddits to private. They also had a list of demands, which included more tools for moderators and better communication between Reddit users and Reddit corporate. A petition to get rid of Pao has received over 170,000 signatures in four days.
The petition pulls no punches:
After Pao lost her gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins she was appointed CEO of Reddit Inc and Reddit entered into a new age of censorship.
While Pao may remain in charge, the Reddit Revolters have made Pao publicly acknowledge how much her company depends on its moderators. In an interview with NPR, Pao apologized to the Reddit community for the way Taylor’s dismissal was handled, and promised to provide some of the demands. She also acknowledged how valuable moderators are to the site:
“We rely heavily on the moderators and we really depend on them,” she said. “What we learned from this event is that we need to communicate better with them and that we don’t take them for granted.”
The “Reddit Revolt,” as it’s been deemed, proves that powerful and abusive leaders can be reminded of how dependent they are on those they abuse. To the reporters who were corralled away from Clinton during a Fourth of July parade, take note: you have the power to collectively force Clinton to acknowledge how much she relies on you. As my colleague Sean Davis wrote:
Campaign reporters actually have far more leverage than they think in this situation. Hillary desperately needs them to broadcast every fake interaction and reprint every schmaltzy quote. It’s the only way she can come across as an even remotely normal person, as opposed to the secretive, corrupt, and cloistered oligarch that she actually is.
Clinton’s censorship tendencies have been encouraged by a kow-towing media, who are eager to jump through her insane hoops and put up with all sorts of shenanigans in hopes that they might gain access to her. But this strategy clearly isn’t working for them, as Clinton has only granted six interviews since February.
Campaign reporters ought to organize their own blackout in protest of Clinton’s treatment, by refusing to cover her campaign. For the sake of the voters, they ought to put a stop to Clinton’s bizarre censorship scheme, which will only get worse if she is elected.