David Sirota, a new hire on the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is causing a firestorm of controversy on Twitter, according to a report in The Atlantic. The brouhaha surrounding Sanders’ new speechwriter and senior adviser comes as a result of the revelation that even prior to his officially being brought on board, Sirota had already been working informally as an adviser with the Sanders campaign for at least several months without disclosing it.
That fact is significant because Sirota, a Denver-based veteran journalist, has long positioned himself as firmly in Sanders’ corner in articles he’s penned and has frequently been highly critical of Sanders’ opponents in the race to secure the Democratic nomination. Meanwhile, it turns out he had been unofficially auditioning for the job of speechwriter for Sanders, who famously prefers to write his own speeches and reportedly wanted a trial period to gauge how it might be to work with a speechwriter.
“He was advising beforehand,” confirmed Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, when he was questioned Tuesday afternoon about Sirota’s prior unofficial position with the campaign.
It’s not any secret that Sirota has long been a Sanders supporter; he worked as a press aide and later as a spokesperson for Sanders when he was a U.S. Representative from Vermont.
But where the controversy is coming from is the fact that Sirota, who already draws his fair share of online fire for his criticism of other Democratic candidates, was confidentially advising the Sanders campaign while nominally appearing to be a neutral journalist. That’s what has left-leaning Twitter all a-flutter, including Democratic strategist and campaign adviser Adam Parkhomenko.
Media outlets that published David Sirota as a straight news journalist must now update their stories in which Sirota lied about what he was doing, pretended to be a reporter while carrying out oppo hits on Democrats on Bernie’s behalf.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) March 19, 2019
Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay suggested Sirota himself wouldn’t be too sanguine about it if the shoe were on the other foot.
Try to imagine Sirota's reaction if, say, a ThinkProgress writer were found to have been secretly advising the O'Rourke campaign https://t.co/dD0yl7Wd2H
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) March 19, 2019
Others noted that as a long-established journalist who leans far to the left, it’s perhaps not that surprising that Sirota had been writing articles criticizing more centrist candidates.
i mean its pretty obvious david sirota is a progressive journalist who was hired by the bernie campaign because of his work. weird to insinuate he was secretly in cahoots with bernie the whole time https://t.co/ATbbZg4Svr
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) March 19, 2019
However, one tricky part of Tuesday’s controversy is that, intertwined with Sirota’s lack of disclosure is the fact that at the same time reporters began digging into his involvement with the Sanders 2020 campaign for longer than he let on, Sirota deleted some 20,000 tweets from his Twitter account, a suspiciously-timed move at best. That’s not only because Sirota has previously denied recently working for Sanders, but also because much of the online fury that has been directed at him from supporters of more centrist candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris has come with accusations that he has been uncivil in his critiques, which, they point out, runs counter to the words of his new boss.
“Negative attacks on Democratic candidates just continues the process of debasing the Democratic system in this country, and is why so many people are disgusted with politics,” Sanders said in 2018.