Peter Daou loves Hillary Clinton. A lot. Daou has orbited her star since 2006, when he first signed up to be her digital director. Following the implosion of her 2008 campaign, Daou fired up independent ventures designed to propel her into office. Viewed through his eyes, Hillary Major never faded. These days, he spends his time revealing the distance between his conception of the woman and . . . everyone else’s. Not for him, the charges of weird intensity: He says she’s “low key.” Increasingly fragile as the campaign wore on? Au contraire: “Doing events with pneumonia,” he insisted last September, “shows how strong Hillary is.” What? She was bitter in the aftermath of November’s defeat? Heaven forfend! He marvels at “how gracefully she deals with endless hate.”
If that’s not love, what is?
Verrit — “media for the 65.8 million” Clinton voters — is Daou’s latest salvation-through-Hillary venture. Unsurprisingly, it’s attracting plenty of derision from across the political spectrum. Verrit is a website whose mission is to rehabilitate the Clinton image through the distribution of cold, hard, convenient facts. The site puts out “Verrits,” static images containing a quote or a statistic alongside a seven-digit verification code that can be used to verify its own veracity. These “facts” come tested and approved. Users can trust them. (Since the images are literally static, the doubtful must open a new tab, call up the Verrit webpage, punch in the code, and only then will the proof be revealed.)
“America is once again at a moment of reckoning,” reads one Verrit, authentication code #0443120. Hillary Clinton said this at the DNC. For congregants, this is more reliable than anything Moses offered on the slopes of Mt. Sinai. Further exegesis comes courtesy of Daou, on its landing page: “The effort to silence and invisibilize Hillary Clinton and her voters continues unabated since the 2016 election. . . . But that won’t deter us from serving the needs and aspirations of our community, no matter how desperate the attacks.”
Back when the wonders of the Internet were the objects of sagacious prediction, who knew that one would be a lesser version of a decoder ring?
The conceit behind Verrit is quintessential 21st-century liberalism. It relies on the notion that political disagreement is primarily a matter of incomplete information. Conservatives, socialists, dissenters of all stripes: They’re misinformed or just plain stupid. Reality has a liberal bias, and once enough stamped and approved Verrits have been pumped into the ether by fact-loving liberals, America will awaken. Facts are indeed stubborn things — just not in the way Daou and his ilk think. The “facts” contained in Verrits aren’t really facts at all; they’re faith-based declarations. That Daou founded the site provides enough of a clue for us to know that the unvarnished truth is inextricable from the reality on Planet Clinton. And on Planet Clinton, the facts are what Bill and Hillary say they are.
The modern journalistic penchant for presenting value-laden claims as simple facts is — or ought to be — beyond the job description of the press. That’s one reason Americans don’t trust it. Creating the term “fake news” was a stupid thing for liberals to do, and not just because it was obvious that President Trump would commandeer the phrase at the first opportunity. Locating objective facts in what are really political questions takes hard thought, careful study, and a willingness to stand against what passes for conventional wisdom. And that’s not a skill set evinced by the White House Press Corps or sycophantic hangers-on like Peter Daou. “We’re in a time now where you just no longer trust anything that you’re reading,” Daou recently told Business Insider. “Facts are now in question. Reality is now in question.” He conveniently forgot to mention that this state of affairs is in no small part due to the efforts of people like him.
In another sense, of course — the sense in which it reveals something about its creator’s psyche — Verrit is just plain funny. About the Hillary Men, one grounded Hillary staffer on the 2016 campaign had this to say: “Yeah — they are a little off.” Indeed. Ever the true believer, Daou seeks to purge anyone who says a negative word about Hillary from his Twitter mentions. This blacklist includes Bernie Sanders supporters, whom he blames for obstructing the path to the presidency on which only Her flats deserved to tread. Those who draw his sanction are those who criticize Hillary: Blasphemers against the prophet deserve no mercy. Neither do people who blaspheme Peter Daou. On Wednesday night, Daou tore into New York Times writer Sopan Deb, whose sin was grievous: “You liked a tweet from an account with a mock Verrit insulting me,” Daou said.
Verrit deserves to be a laughingstock, and it by and large is. Sadly for Daou, it appears to be a full-time gig. For his sake, Hillary — or perhaps Chelsea — should gin up a new campaign. In the meantime, don’t cry for the man. There are compensations beyond money where Verrit is concerned: Hillary herself joined the site!
— Theodore Kupfer is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.