The mounting tension between a leading progressive presidential campaign and a leading progressive cable news network has reached a new peak.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and MSNBC have always had a complicated relationship. Sanders, a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination, has long questioned the news media’s biases, while pundits have taken fresh shots at the Vermont senator this cycle. But officials in Sanders’ campaign contend that leading up to the 2020 election, the network is one of several cable news outlets directly contributing to a media climate where false claims go unchecked and requests for progressive voices on-air are frequently turned down.
“More often than not these commentators are injecting their opinion without any policy discussions,” Nina Turner, the national co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, told The Daily Beast. “They’re not there to tell the gospel truth.”
The backlash from Sanders-world reached a new high on Sunday, when MSNBC analyst Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York and occasional contributor to The Daily Beast, launched a personal critique of Sanders during a segment with host David Gura, saying that he makes her “skin crawl” and that he’s not a “pro-woman candidate.”
“Bernie Sanders makes my skin crawl,” Rocah started when discussing the lineup for the upcoming Democratic debate in Detroit, where Sanders will share a stage with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “I can’t even identify for you what exactly it is. But I see him as sort of a not pro-woman candidate,” she continued. “So, having the two of them there—like, I don’t understand young women who support him. And I’m hoping having him next to her will help highlight that.”
Rocah’s comments—which multiple campaign officials contended went too far—were part of a larger issue they see brewing, where the fact-checking process appears to be largely removed from the day-to-day political discourse among some commentators and hosts.
“It takes a certain kind of woman to ignore that education, healthcare, and the economy are women’s issues too. #privilegedmuch? This is not what intersectional feminism looks like. It’s corporate feminism at its finest. Full stop,” Sanders’ national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray wrote on Twitter.
“Here we go again.. It is so belittling to constantly tell young women that they HAVE TO vote for someone JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE A WOMAN. Mam, we have brains, we’re voting on policy and a candidates vision + work, not their sex. This is #WhiteFeminism at its finest,” Belén Sisa, Sanders’ Latino press secretary, tweeted.
A senior campaign aide said the campaign believes there are possible biases in the network, but instead of shunning MSNBC they’ve been aggressive in getting their people booked. Sanders has been on the network at least nine times this cycle, granting multiple interviews to hosts Chris Hayes, Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle, and Al Sharpton, among others. He has done at least the same amount of appearances on the network as he did in the first six months of the 2016 election.
Still, a separate campaign official said there’s only a small handful of guests closely aligned with Sanders who regularly appear on the network, and that while they’re hopeful more will be added as the field narrows, their suggestions thus far have been largely turned down.
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Hanna Trudo