It was a moment that put a human face to the arguments the Hillary Clinton campaign had been forwarding for months. At a Clinton rally in Pennsylvania, a 15-year-old girl spoke from the heart about how Donald Trump‘s bullying made her concerned about her peers. “At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age,” Brennan Leach said. “I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.” It was a concern that had been amplified days earlier by Trump’s renewed attacks on model Alicia Machado, who Trump allegedly called “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight.
Clinton couldn’t have asked for a better question, and she even said as much (“Thank you!” she shouted at Leach). With such a perfect moment came of course a flood of media coverage. But was it perhaps a little too perfect?
Buried deep in The New York Times story on the moment are a few tidbits that sound the faintest of alarms. Leach’s father, we learn over a dozen paragraphs in, “helped her form the question that had so excited Mrs. Clinton.” Her father is also vaguely referred to as a “local politician.” His full name, office, and political affiliation are left to the reader’s imagination.
Luckily, we live in the age of Google. A simple search reveals that Leach’s father is Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach, and also the Chairman of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. Leach endorsed Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders during the primaries, saying, “At a time when the Republican Presidential candidates seem to be stoking the flames of fear and anger, I have never been more proud to support Hillary Clinton for President.”
I find it hard to believe that The Times found out Leach was a politician but somehow failed to follow up on these very basic facts. It sounds more like they ended up being cut from the final piece because they dulled the impact of the story. An everyday girl spooked by Donald Trump’s rhetoric fits a narrative. A teen being raised and directed by their Democratic politician parent to dislike the Republican presidential candidate… doesn’t.