Schumer Fires Media Center Staff Days Before Holidays

Chuck Schumer
Chuck Schumer / AP
December 20, 2016

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) fired nearly all of the employees in the Senate Democrats' internal video department on Friday.

Schumer informed the staffers of the Senate Democratic Media Center that their services are no longer needed less than 10 days before Christmas and Chanukkah, according to employee emails to colleagues obtained by Politico.

"On Friday, December 16, 2016, my colleagues and I in the Senate Democratic Media Center were informed by the incoming Democratic Leaders office that our services were no longer needed [sic]," one staffer wrote to colleagues.

Two of the goodbye emails obtained by Politico were from veteran Capitol Hill staffers who worked in the Senate for 29 years and 20 years, respectively.

More than six people were fired and the media center has eight total employees, sources told Politico.

With the Democratic National Committee going through a transition period as it looks for a new chairman, Schumer and fellow Senate Democrats believe they are responsible for party messaging, Politico reported.

Historically the media center has been used by senators to craft videos for their constituents back home. But with the Democratic National Committee in some turmoil until a new chairman is selected and the party losing the White House, the 48-member Democratic minority views itself as the party's chief messaging arm next year, according to a Democratic leadership aide.

And that will require a totally new staff for the low-profile media center, the aide said.

"It's incumbent on us to create some of the more creative, buzzy, viral content," the Democrat said. "The current, existing DMC wasn't built to do that."

A second Democrat familiar with the new operation said it will add "new ideas and perspectives to add capacity for high-quality, rapid response digital content that speaks to people and families and that can be used by Senate Democrats."

With confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's administration and battles over Obamacare coming up early next year, Schumer is moving swiftly to hire new staff. His team has already hired some staffers and they plan to have a full team by January.

One senior Democratic aide called Schumer's move to fire the employees days before the holiday season "very unusual."