There, surrounded by start-up tech companies, âStar Warsâ posters and flat-screen televisions fixed on cable news, Peter Daou sat with his team at a long wooden table last week, pushing the buttons that activate Mrs. Clintonâs outrage machine. Mr. Daouâs operation, called Shareblue, had published the article on Mr. Trumpâs comment on its website and created the accompanying hashtag.
âThey will put that pressure right on the media outlets in a very intense way,â Mr. Daou, the chief executive of Shareblue, said of the Twitter army he had galvanized. âBy the thousands.â
In the sprawling Clinton body politic, Shareblue is the finger that wags at the mainstream news media (âR.I.P. Political Journalism (1440-2016)â) or pokes at individual reporters. It is a minor appendage, but in an increasingly close race for the presidency, it plays its part.
And it is already warming up for the biggest event of the general election so far: the first debate, on Monday night. It has already published a piece calling on moderators to fact-check Mr. Trump on the spot, and will continue through debate night, whipping up support online with the hashtag #DemandFairDebates.
Shareblue is owned by David Brock, the onetime Clinton critic who remade himself into a Clinton supporter and architect of a conglomerate of organizations designed, he said, to be the liberal answer to the conservative messaging of Fox News.
The Brock network includes his Media Matters for America watchdog website; two pro-Clinton âsuper PACs,â the opposition research outfit American Bridge and the pro-Clinton fact-checking and reporter-spamming operation Correct the Record; and Shareblue, which filled the need, Mr. Brock said, for a progressive outlet that spoke directly to the grass roots and which âwas avidly and unabashedly pro-Hillary.â
Shareblueâs bread-and-butter content is exposing what it considers to be news coverage stacked against Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Daou was particularly excited about a project seeking to show that Mrs. Clintonâs email travails had been in the news every day since the story originally broke in March 2015.
Often, their editorial direction seems in sync with the Clinton campaign, which has instructed its surrogates to blame news coverage for negative press. âAre they going to hold Hillary to a different standard again?â read one recent âtalking pointsâ memo sent by the campaign to its surrogates.
That approach became clear this month. On Sept. 1, The Washington Post broke a story about the Donald J. Trump Foundation being fined for improperly donating $ 25,000 to Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida, around the time that her office was deciding whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University.
The next day, the Clinton campaign put out a statement contending that while the news media had an unhealthy obsession with the Clinton Foundation, Mr. Trumpâs charity had been caught in an âactual pay-to-play scandal.â The Clinton campaignâs foreign policy spokesman, Jesse Lehrich, wrote on Twitter: âAwaiting outrage.â
He didnât have to wait long. Mr. Daou and his website incessantly demanded coverage of the Trump Foundation story. âWe just have to start the fire,â Mr. Daou said in an interview last week. Many liberal columnists, Democratic operatives and members of the Media Matters family reached the same conclusion, excoriating news outlets and individuals for grading Mr. Trump âon a curve.â
Whether it truly cleared the air about Mr. Trumpâs foundation or merely muddied the water about Mrs. Clintonâs, Mr. Daou took credit for injecting the notion of false equivalence into the social media bloodstream and for forcing some news outlets to adjust their coverage.
âWell-known people are now talking about the double standard in coverage,â Mr. Daou said. âWe feel we were way ahead of the curve.â
Mr. Brock recruited Mr. Daou to join what was then called Blue Nation Review (it relaunched as Shareblue this month) during a breakfast at the Regency Hotel in New York in November.
Mr. Daou grew up in Lebanon and spent the â90s working in dance music with his first wife as part of a group called The Daou, which put the words of his aunt, the novelist Erica Jong, to music. He then worked as a producer and keyboardist for BjÃ¶rk and other musicians.
In the 2000s, Mr. Daou broke into progressive blogging and claimed to have helped found The Huffington Post. His suit accusing the company of denying him appropriate credit and compensation was settled in 2014. He also worked directly in politics, first for John Kerry in 2004 and then for Mrs. Clinton in 2008, leading her digital operation.
Beyond creating a boisterous echo chamber, the real metric of success for Shareblue, which Mr. Brock said has a budget of $ 2 million supplied by his political donors, is getting Mrs. Clinton elected. Mr. Daouâs role is deploying a band of committed, outraged followers to harangue Mrs. Clintonâs opponents.
âThe pond scum of American politics,â is how Tad Devine, a senior strategist to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, described the website in March for its frequent attacks on Mr. Sanders.
Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, viewed Shareblue more as a necessary voice in a world teeming with conservative radio, television and internet outlets that fire up the Republican base.
âOn the left, frankly, having more of that is not a bad thing,â Mr. Merrill said.
Of Mr. Daou, he added, âHe has a great sense of whatâs moving around and where in the depths of the Twittersphere.â
Just how much Mr. Daou coordinates his efforts with the Clinton campaign is hard to pinpoint.
The campaign said there was no formal coordination with Shareblue, and Mr. Daou said he did not take any direction from the campaign.
âNow do I communicate with them regularly? I do,â Mr. Daou said, noting that because of his years working for Mrs. Clinton, âhalf the people on that campaign, if not more, are former colleagues and friends.â He added that when one of their stories takes off, âIâll let them know, âHey check out what we just posted, it looks like a good angle.ââ
Mr. Brock said his Correct the Record PAC talked to the Clinton campaign. But as for his Shareblue operation, he said: âThere are people in the campaign who are aware of what we are doing and who have been encouraging about what we are doing. I wouldnât go further than that.â
While Mr. Daou, the pianist, can accompany the larger Clinton ensemble, he can also step forward as a soloist when need be.
When video of Mrs. Clinton falling ill on Sept. 11 exploded in the news media, the campaign, which had at first said she overheated, apologized for not revealing her diagnosis of pneumonia beforehand.
Correct the Record went virtually dark. âIt was waiting for guidance from the campaign,â Mr. Brock explained.
But Mr. Daou quickly started defending Mrs. Clinton from critics on Twitter (âThey should be ashamedâ) and that evening posted an article on Shareblue about Mrs. Clintonâs grit, headlined âHillary Clintonâs feat of strength obliterates months of health conspiracies.â
It was roundly mocked as a blatant example of Pravda-esque spin.
But two days later, the Clinton campaign distributed another memo of talking points to its surrogates using her near collapse as an opportunity to talk about her stamina.
âTo anyone who knows Hillary,â read the first bullet point, âit does not come as much of a surprise that even when sheâs under the weather, she would want to power through her normal schedule.â