Hillary Clinton appeared onstage at Code Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. and reflected on why she lost the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
Unsurprisingly, the widespread coverage of her unsecured email usage was a sour point. The “email account was turned into the biggest scandal since Lord knows when.” She griped that the “mainstream media covered that like Pearl Harbor.”
“It was a mistake,” she acknowledged. But “the way that it was used was very damaging.”
Clinton also felt that former FBI director James Comey had a lot to do with the perception that she was a criminal. “Comey was more than happy to talk about my emails, but he wouldn’t talk about investigations with Russians,” said Clinton. “We thought we were going to win. The Comey letter was measurable.”
Social media played a larger role than ‘ever in the 2016 election and Clinton had some thoughts about Twitter and Facebook.
“The vast majority of the news items posted were fake,” she said about Facebook. “The other side was using content that was just flat out false and delivering it in a very personalized way… That really influenced the information that people were relying on.”
“They’ve got to prevent fake news from creating a new reality,” Clinton added.
Lately she’s been wondering why millions of bots are following Trump on Twitter. Is that “to make him look more popular than he is?”
She also had some quips about his “covfefe” tweet, the misspelling that shook the internet Tuesday night. “I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians,” she joked. But this tweet and others, she said, could be a distraction. “Maybe for a minute you’ll forget about the latest accusations” regarding Russia and healthcare.
Clinton also spoke about the role that data played in “weaponizing” information on social media and other online platforms. She talked about how the RNC built a giant data trove after the loss of the 2012 presidential election.
She accused the RNC of using that data in tandem with the Russians and other makers of fake news to create a targeted approach. “The marriage of the domestic fake news operations, the domestic RNC Republican allied data, combined with the very effective capabilities that the Russians brought” was a perfect storm. They “could not have known how best to weaponize the information unless they had been guided. They did that through machine learning, which kept spewing out this stuff over and over again.” She was in awe of the “algorithms that they developed.”
While Clinton admonished the Democratic National Committee for “mediocre to poor data” that made it harder for her side to target social media, she says that her administration would have been beneficial for technology. “We had a great tech program, we had a really good set of policies,” she maintained.
Clinton is also in favor of tech billionaires buying more newspapers, like Jeff Bezos did with the Washington Post. “Jeff Bezos saved the Washington Post,” she said. It was a “very good use of his financial resources because now we have a very good newspaper again.” Newspapers still “drive news online, drive news on TV.”
She says she’s not running for office again, but don’t expect Clinton to go by the wayside. “I’m not going anywhere.” She learned a lot from the 2016 election loss and “I don’t want it to happen to anybody else.”