STUMP » Articles » How Not to Be a Dumbass: #DNCLeaks Shows How Not To Use Email » 25 July 2016, 12:17

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

How Not to Be a Dumbass: #DNCLeaks Shows How Not To Use Email  


25 July 2016, 12:17

It’s been a while since I’ve used my dumbassery tag, but this seems like the perfect time to do it.

I speak, of course, of the dump of a year and a half’s worth of DNC emails via Wikileaks.

Search the DNC email database

Today, Friday 22 July 2016 at 10:30am EDT, WikiLeaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee — part one of our new Hillary Leaks series. The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finanace Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails cover the period from January last year until 25 May this year.

I may or may not search the emails later, but I will tell you I was underwhelmed by what had “pension” and “math” in it.

Maybe more on that another time. Most of what I see is boring crap.


While this is what ABC is going with as the most damaging emails:

The 4 Most Damaging Emails From the DNC WikiLeaks Dump

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz Calls Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver an “A—” and a “Liar”
Highlighting Sanders’ Faith
Building a Narrative Against Sanders
Lamentations That Sanders Is Not a ‘True’ Democrat

Now, these are probably the most damaging electorally, though there are some other ones that are pretty nasty, such as having moles within the Sanders campaign.

But some other emails are more likely to be professionally damaging to the people who sent them… and who received them, because some people have trouble telling the distinction when looking at email addresses.

I got these particular examples from Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit.

There are two types of emails I dump in this category: emails that disclose poor professional behavior for one in their place (i.e., people in the press having the DNC approve stories first), and emails that just show immaturity/poor professionalism period. People are highlighting the first, and I’m going to be addressing the second.

I see one example so far, but I bet there are others. Here’s some of the email chain: [I’m editing out all the headers/etc. You can see the original at the link.
Date: 2016-05-06 16:04 Subject: Re: FW: DNC LGBT Event

LaQueenia is a NAME!

I’m sorry, boo. I hope you got a raise with this title.

On Friday, May 6, 2016, Comer, Scott > wrote:
just kill me now.

From: Rob Smith – Chief Product Officer – NY
Cc: LaQueenia Gibson – Executive Assistant
Subject: DNC LGBT Event

Gentlemen, I’m encouraging a phone call next week.
There has been some shift in leadership and I’d like for us to be aligned on next steps.
After seeing a few emails, I’m not sure that we are all on the same page.

I’m going to have LaQueenia send out some options for next week.
Hopefully we can all get on the phone and reenergize this event.

Rob Smith
Chief Product Officer

So we have Zach Allen, a political consultant, emailing Scott Comer, a finance chief of staff at the DNC, making fun of somebody’s name. The assumption is that it’s a black woman’s name, but I assume nothing. I’m not going to look this person up, nor do I care to. It’s not this person’s fault that their name is being made part of a large email dump.

Scott Comer wrote “just kill me now”, but we have no context for that statement. Comer could be complaining about Rob Smith being an annoying vendor, and it taking too much time for him to put together a DNC LGBT event, not complaining about the name.

But here’s the point, ZACH, if you weren’t willing to make fun of this person’s name to that person’s face, you shouldn’t put it in written form.

Even if you were willing to say it to that person, you might not want the whole world to see it.

Too late now.

Anyway, Zach (at the very least) showed poor judgment. Scott may have, but I don’t know… but that’s also the danger of email.

I know that if I wanted to hire a political consultant, esp. if I wanted him to help with LGBT events, I would not want to use somebody who doesn’t know to keep this crap out of email.


I teach a class at UConn that is called Technical Writing for Actuaries, and it’s very barely about technical writing.

It’s about business communication, with actuarial concerns thrown in.

I see in last semester’s notes, I didn’t write down some of my most important advice… and when you see what it is, perhaps you’ll know why I didn’t write it down.

(The above is what is known as a joke… because I’m writing it down for y’all)

Here is the hierarchy for business communication (the first is the most preferred):

1. face-to-face discussion
2. phone discussion
3. texting/online chat
4. email

The main use of email will be because you need to document a decision being made. Yes, you can also respond to factual info, etc.

But you shouldn’t put stuff with emotional punch in an email.

Because it will blow up on you.

Even without the danger of easy replicability (more on that in a moment), the main problem with written language is that written language is so easily misunderstood. You may think you’re writing clearly, and then you realize that someone reads into it something you never put in there.

In texting, phone calls, and face-to-face discussions, the other person can react immediately and ask you to clarify something they may have misunderstood. You may think one can do the same via email, but it really doesn’t work as well. There’s no immediacy, and you can be in the middle of composing an email diatribe (DONT DO IT NOOOOOO) when the other person is writing back an email to clarify. Email is asynchronous, it lacks good nonverbal cues (emojis don’t cut it, I don’t care what you think), and…. it can get away from you. Easily.

(There are also legal issues, but most email debacles deal with the miscommunication problem, not getting sued.)

(Though I could totally see lawsuits spurred by this.)


Okay, I’m exaggerating here, but people have been going batshit over the amount of info given to servers when you play Pokemon Go, so it might be useful to remind everybody:

If you put it online yourself, it’s probably not private anymore.

Now, there’s all sorts of info about us in computer networks that we didn’t put there — but companies or the government put there. We can do only so much about that.

This is not for the people who are encrypting their stuff… now, that stuff may be crackable, but at least you’re trying. But I’m talking about most “normal” folks who SHOULDN’T BE EMAILINGSECRETCOMMUNICATIONS.

This was true 20 years ago. It’s true now.

Do not put private stuff on facebook. Do not put private stuff in email. Just don’t do it.

Also, keep your “witty” observations to yourself unless you’re willing for everybody to see it.

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