Bernie Sanders Was Called Out for Online Supporters’ Vicious Behavior. He Shut It Down.

“They are not part of our movement.”

Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP

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Bernie Sanders was put on the spot at the Democratic debate Wednesday night over the vicious online attacks by some of his online supporters. Sanders bluntly condemned their behavior.

“We have more than 10.6 million people on Twitter, and 99.9 percent of them are decent human beings,” Sanders said. “If there are a few people who make ugly remarks, I disown those people.”

“They are not part of our movement,” he concluded.

Sanders’ comments came after former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg reminded viewers that Sanders supporters had threatened top officials of Nevada’s Culinary Union, a Democratic powerhouse, over the phone and online in the lead-up to Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, the third nominating contest of the Democratic primary. (The union has recently warned its members about Sanders’ Medicare-for-All plan.)

Buttigieg seized on Sanders’ response, suggesting the senator was showing a lack of personal responsibility. Buttigieg said he respected what Sanders’ said, but wondered, “At a certain point, you gotta ask yourself: Why did this pattern arise? Why is this especially the case among your supporters?”

Sanders vehemently disagreed, adding that his campaign surrogates like former Ohio state senator Nina Turner have also been the subject of “ugly, sexist, racist attacks.”

Buttigieg pushed back: “It’s about how you inspire people to act. I think you have to accept some responsibility.”

Sanders’ online supporters have been a source of fascination and derision throughout the campaign, earning particular scrutiny after the behavior toward the Culinary Union leaders came to light. Earlier this week, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg released an ad featuring a supercut of some of Sanders’ supporters most stunning barbs. Sanders already condemned that behavior during a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, telling an audience that he doesn’t tolerate “ugly attacks against anybody.”

“I have an idea about how you stop sexism on the internet,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar volunteered after the exchange Wednesday. “Nominate a woman.” Yeah, sure, that’ll solve it, Amy.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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