Last week, a local Denver journalist named Stan Bush reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign appeared to be using a hidden static noise machine to prevent reporters and other passerby from hearing the candidate’s stump speech at an outdoor fundraiser held at the private residence of Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper. The general allegation hung in odd kind of limbo, however, since Bush managed to record the machine’s (inherently indiscriminate) sound but was unable to photograph the actual device, while Clinton’s press shop ignored reporters’ attempts to confirm the machine’s existence. Meanwhile, the underlying question went unanswered: Why was Clinton using a static noise machine in the first place?
Following our write-up, a Clinton donor who attended this specific fundraiser told Gawker that he personally witnessed the the static noise machine being operated: “I can confirm without any doubt that there was a white noise machine set up on the perimeter to prevent the public and reporters from hearing what Hillary Clinton said.” He did not know, however, what in Clinton’s speech, as he remembers it, would have inspired such a precautionary measure. (The same donor, who provided a copy of an invitation to the fundraiser bearing his name, asked not to be identified because of his involvement in local Democratic politics.)
The machine, the donor said, consisted of what appeared to be three separate speakers hooked up to a small controller. “They were big stereo speakers, like the kind people had in their houses in the Seventies,” he said. “They were connected to a box about the size of a toaster, with the three speakers placed around the perimeter of the yard. They were in the bushes—literally in the hedges.” Here’s what it sounded like from the street:
Neither the donor nor the other attendees seemed to be aware of the machine during Clinton’s speech, though. “I had no consciousness of [the speakers in the hedges] when I was actually in the fundraiser,” said the donor, who discovered the speakers, and the sound they were playing, as he was preparing to leave the event before Clinton had finished speaking. “It seemed to underscore the exclusivity of the event,” he added. “I thought it was really surprising.”
The same donor characterized Clinton’s speech as “unexceptional platform stuff—for immigration there needs to be a path to citizenship, we need to fight for gun control, that kind of thing.” At one point during the same speech, the donor pointed out, Clinton “seemed to be taking a swipe at Bernie Sanders” by recalling how, after campaigning against and ultimately conceding to Barack Obama in 2008, she had “thrown her support behind him, tried to persuade her supporters to support Obama, and on the floor of the 2008 convention made a motion to name Obama as the candidate by acclamation.” (Acclamation is a kind of voting procedure that dispenses with the need for a formal ballot; Sanders has recently disputed Clinton’s qualifications to become President.)
“I saw it as more of a climate of control—of being fearful that something might slip out,” the donor told Gawker.