September 23, 2017
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The Breakthrough: Behind the Scenes of Hillary Clinton’s Failed Bid for President

By Jessica Huseman, ProPublica


We watched on election night as dejected Hillary Clinton supporters poured out of New York City’s Javits Center, but we didn’t see her campaign team wrestling with how and when to concede. And in the months leading up to that moment, we watched Clinton give long, disjointed speeches, but we didn’t see the internal campaign drama that went into writing them.

That’s all in “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” the groundbreaking book from Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes that creates an intimate portrait of a campaign positioned to lose, even though it was favored to win.

On The Breakthrough, Allen divulges his process for digging deep into what was, by all accounts, a secretive campaign. He shares his agreement with sources — all spoke on background, and none of their names were used. Hear how he and Parnes gained their trust, kept their confidences and reported out stories no one else was able to tell. He describes the moment they realized what their reporting all meant:

“Right before the election, our editor sent us a note and got us on the phone and he said, ‘You guys have a problem. Your book has all these warning signs, all this, sort of, foreboding … and she’s about to be elected president.’ He was like, ‘How do you reconcile that?’”

Allen and Parnes interviewed nearly 100 insiders. The authors returned to sources again and again, clarifying timelines and confirming facts without revealing who gave them the information. They turned up some scoops. The campaign was dysfunctional — tense from infighting over how resources were spent. The candidate herself couldn’t settle on a message for why she wanted to run, and argued with staff over whether she should apologize for her email server scandal. And even in the most pivotal days of her campaign, Clinton didn’t seem to understand the mood of the country.

“She’s partway through the primaries already and she’s saying, ‘I don’t understand what this populist uprising is,’” says Allen. He and Parnes were “dumbstruck” when sources first told them this, long before Election Day.

Hear about these surprises and more on The Breakthrough, the ProPublica podcast where investigative reporters reveal how they nailed their biggest stories.


Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC