Bernie Sanders

Clinton-Shilling Journalists Should Stop Slamming the Bernie Bros

Sanders' supporters aren't trolling: They're telling the truth.


Bernie Sanders

Like many of the greatest media-propelled narratives, the notion that Bernie Sanders' online supporters are uniquely malicious harassers lacks credibility.

But this hasn't stopped several left-of-center news sources from making the striking, mostly false claim claim that armies of pro-Sanders activists on Twitter—animated by misogyny—constantly lash at members of the Hillary Clinton campaign and their allies in the press.

"The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob," asserted Mashable. "The Sanders campaign knows the 'Bernie Bros' are a problem," declared The New Republic's Jamil Smith. "Bernie Sanders' Campaign Is Concerned About the 'Berniebro,' As They Maybe Should Be," suggested Jezebel. Buzzfeed News upped the ante with, "The Bernie Bros Are a Problem and the Sanders Campaign Is Trying to Stop Them."

It's true enough that some Sanders staffers are making an effort to encourage social media users to be respectful toward people involved with other campaigns, and have apologized to a few specific recipients of Sanders-inspired hate. But here's the thing: There's scant evidence that said apologies are actually warranted.

Baltimore Post-Examiner columnist Carl Beijer investigated the phenomenon and discovered this:

Look for the BernieBro, and at the most you'll find a few examples that are easily explained as statistically insignificant.

Or you will find the flat refusal to provide any examples at all.

Or you will find the repeated and demonstrable misrepresentation of quotes, as in the case of Rebecca Traister's article. Or as in a Jezebel article posted yesterday, where the "Berniebro" quoted turns out to be a woman.

Sometimes you'll get a variation on this when another journalist cites the misrepresented quote, as Jessica Valenti does for the article above. Or more recently, when BBC and Mashable both quote uncritically another journalist, Emily Nussbaum, claiming that "the Feel the Bern crew" called her "psycho"—when it was, in fact, a Tea Party Republican Congressman from Georgia….

UPDATE: Turns out one the Republican Congressman who called Emily Nussbaum a "psycho" doesn't even exist. So just to clarify: this Berniebro story exists because

1) Wonkette's Kaili Joy Gray is citing
2) The New Republic's Jamil Smith, who cited
3) Mashable's Emily Cohn, who cited
4) New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum, who credited to a Berniebro a quote from
5) A Republican Congressman's Twitter account, who turns out to not even be a Congressman, but rather
6) A random troll who created a character "based on J.D. 'Boss' Hogg from the classic TV show, 'The Dukes of Hazzard'".

To elaborate on the Jezebel allegation: A purported Bernie Bro left the following comment on the Facebook page of Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who supports Clinton: "You should have supported someone with integrity instead of a lying shitbag like HRC." First of all, the commenter was a woman, not a man. Second of all…Clinton is a lying shitbag! How can it be harassment to harshly criticize a federal lawmaker for backing her?

Similarly, it certainly looks like at least some of the journalists who are so upset about being called out for their Clinton-shilling…are shills for Clinton.

It's not harassment to tell the truth. It's not misogyny to assert that a Clinton presidency would be a disaster for women. Many women think that. Sanders is actually more popular among young women than Clinton is.

The Nation's Liza Featherstone, a supporter of Sanders, called the contention that Sanders' people are disproportionately abusive trolls "grotesquely exaggerated." In an email to Reason, she wrote:

I was called an ugly cunt on the Nation magazine's comment section by liberals and libertarians, back when these alleged Berniebros were still in preschool. Political discourse on the internet can be unpleasant. It would be surprising if Bernie Sanders had no knuckle-draggingly sexist followers given the prevalence of alienated and misogynist men on the internet. If all Sanders supporters were sweet sensitive males it would be a sign that he wasn't reaching anyone outside the Burlington famers market, I'm sorry to say.  But the Berniebro phenomenon is grotesquely exaggerated—we are seeing an epidemic of think pieces and hundreds of references to "Berniebros" per day, with laughably little substantiation. Everyone writing and tweeting this garbage should be embarrassed. Misogyny is real, but accusations of misogyny have become the new red baiting. It's a way for centrists and media elites to bash the left while sounding progressive, and we're going to see it intensify especially if Sanders does well in these early primaries.

Not all Sanders supporters are dicks. Not all Sanders supporters have dicks. The mainstream left-leaning press's attempts to insist otherwise are a shameful indictment of the fact that many of them are in the tank for Clinton—and they don't like being called on it.

NEXT: Er, Not Exactly: "What passes for acceptable school choice rhetoric is frightening"

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  1. This is what they do Robby. They are doing the exact same thing to Bernie supporters that they did to the gamergate people or the people they went after in the SCIFI community. Its the same shit every time. They are the most loathsome vile people imaginable and routinely try to destroy their enemies all the while claiming they are really the victims because their enemies dared fight back.

    1. we are seeing an epidemic of think pieces and hundreds of references to “Berniebros” per day, with laughably little substantiation

      That’s how they maintain the narrative. This is classic attack strategy. Make the lie big enough that it can’t not be believed.

      1. If enough people repeat a lie enough times it becomes irrefutable in the public’s mind.

        1. See: warming, global.

          1. “It’s not harassment to tell the truth.”

            HAHA HAAA! omg! HAAAhaha. Shit yeah, thanks for the laugh. That’s a good…. wait, are you serious?

  2. Are you in the doghouse Robby? Or did you volunteer for this shitty assignment?

  3. Unrelated, but if Rand beats Bush and Christie in Iowa, does that mean they both get demoted to the little kid’s debate?

    1. No more kiddie debates. If you don’t make the main stage you don’t make the show at all.

      1. So, let me rephrase. If Rand’s numbers are higher than Bush and Christie’s, do those 2 get booted from the debates while Rand stays?

        1. If Rand’s numbers are higher than Bush’s and Christie’s, did you hear the latest outrageous thing Trump said???

          1. No, I stopped paying attention to him right after the wall thing.

        2. My understanding is that the next debate—hosted by ABC in New Hampshire—will feature the top 3 finishers in Iowa plus the top 5 in NH per RCP polling.

          Rand needs to be in the top 3 to make it because he’s currently 7th in NH behind Jeb!, Fatass and even Fiorina.

          1. I see. So they looked at the polls and saw where Rand is in Iowa. Got it.

  4. Internecine battling? Turning accusations of misogyny on each other? Oh, how delicious. God, I love it when politicians kneecap each other. If only it were real and in the Thunderdome instead.

    “Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we’ve learned, by the dust of them all… Bartertown learned. Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter; one man leaves.”

    1. They always think that it will never happen to them. They think “hey I am a right thinking person and in good standing with the party. They would never treat me like we treat real enemies” No matter how many times it happens, it never occurs to them that it can happen to them.

      And it is equally delicious every time it does.

      1. Journalist might think that way, but most of the commenters are true believers. They actually believe that these poor dears writing the articles are living in fear for their lives from the other that is just waiting for a chance to hurt them.

        1. I am talking about the journolists. They are morons. They honestly think that it is okay to call the other side racists and go after them with a social media mob because they are the enemy. They honestly believe nothing like that could ever happen to them.

          1. I wonder if they actually believe that the other side genuinely is racist and they are pure and good. Or do they just lack the imagination to see that anyone could pull the same bullshit on them?

            1. Why can’t it be a lil’ bit of both?

            2. I have to believe it’s the former. How could anyone believe such tactics are in any way acceptable if they didn’t at least rationalize it as the other side is just so evil that they have to be stopped at any cost?

      2. Well, Bernie has never been in good standing with the party. So he should probably expect it all the more.

  5. I [The Nation’s Liza Featherstone] was called an ugly cunt on the Nation magazine’s comment section by liberals and libertarians, back when these alleged Berniebros were still in preschool.

    Maybe you were called that because of your penchant for smearing liberals and libertarians – and you’re doing it again!

    HOW do you know those who commented back then on the comments section of The Nation were “libertarians”?

    1. Hey, shitlord, don’t question her Truth!

  6. Sanders supporter (from the Nation no less) asserts not all Sanders supporters are dicks. Film at fucking eleven.

  7. Sanders’ supporters aren’t trolling: they’re telling the truth.

    Telling the truth about universal health care being a human right? Telling the truth that the wealthy people
    In the world are conspiring to keep the poor in their place? Telling the truth that rich people and corporations “didn’t built that” even though they often pay considerably more for infrastructure than entire communities full of the looters that want to confiscate wealth? Telling the truth that a tax on wealthy people is a sound fiscal policy?

    Jesus, Rico. Have you completely lost your mind?

    1. Sloopy,

      Its not a lie if you believe it. The Bernie supporters are not lairs. They are retarded but they are not liars strictly speaking.

      1. Are you telling me Robby believes it? Because if so, he has no business writing at a libertarian publication under any name other than Palin’s Buttplug or Dave Weigel.

        1. Maybe Robbie just feels bad for them because he realizes how stupid they are?

        2. Sloopy,

          I think Robby was refering to Sanders’ supporters calling media personalities who shill for the Clintons “Clinton Shills”, and calling Hillary Clinton a warmongering, corrupt, gundecking piece of shit whose only accomplishment was fucking Bill Clinton. Those are not lies.

          1. Then perhaps he ought to learn how to write with qualifiers and caveats.

            1. It’s a tagline Sloopy. The qualifier is the article under it. RTFA

              1. Meh. The article doesn’t touch on what the Berniebros have actually said.

                In fact I don’t see one statement attributed to a Bernie supporter refuting what Clintonites are saying other than to say “oh yeah? I was treated like shit a generation ago.”

                I can’t see where Berniebros have “said” a damn thing. Lies, truth or otherwise.

            2. I only use qualifiers and caveats when condemning offensive speech.

              1. I only use qualifiers and caveats when condemning offensive speech.

                Robby, you’re so dreamy.

              2. OK, you are the coolest Reason contributor.

                Don’t tell ENB I said that.

              3. Since you’re here can you identify what “truth”‘they’re telling and where that appears in your article? All I see Is a good takedown of the other side (bravo for that). But no evidence of Bernie supporters saying anything other than they got shit a couple decades ago.

                Perhaps a better line would have been: Sanders supporters aren’t trolling: Clinton supporters are lying.

            3. You seem to be the only one confused here, sloopy.

              1. Yeah, I guess so. I’m gonna eat a Snickers bar.

                ::eats Snickers::


          2. Married Bill Clinton, anyways. I’m not prepared to concede they have fucked.

        3. It’s not harassment to tell the truth. It’s not misogyny to assert that a Clinton presidency would be a disaster for women. Many women think that. Sanders is actually more popular among young women than Clinton is.

          I believe that’s the “telling the truth” bit.

          1. Another example:

            A purported Bernie Bro left the following comment on the Facebook page of Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who supports Clinton: “You should have supported someone with integrity instead of a lying shitbag like HRC. First of all, the commenter was a woman, not a man. Second of all…Clinton is a lying shitbag!”

    2. Anyone who writes that without caveats hasn’t lost his mind, they never had a mind to begin with.

      1. The vast majority of readers seem to have had no trouble figuring out what he meant. I think that the problem might be elsewhere.

    3. I thought he meant “telling the truth about Clinton” in this case. I think you might be stretching it to say he’s signing up to feel the bern.

      1. He easily could have added those two words. Because the article is more about actions by several groups of people rather than the words of the “Berniebros”. In that sense the comment doesn’t make much sense.

        1. It’s not always possible to pre-conceive of every way an audience will blow a stand alone phrase out of all proportion ahead of time, Sloop.

          1. Apparently I’ve set the standard for that today.

            Sorry about that to everyone if I’ve derailed the thread. Not my intention.

        2. Or people could learn reading comprehension.

    4. Article was pretty clear he was discussing telling the truth about Hillary being a terrible candidate and the non-existence of this misogyny mob her supporters claim is out to get all the women.

      1. Fuck you, woman. I’m part of one of the largest officially licensed misogyny mobs west of the Mississippi, and I tell you, our only goal is to destroy all women, everywhere, at all times.

        Well, destroy just enough to render them vulnerable to our follow-on rape mobs, at least.

        1. *looks up*

          Already time for Number 6 Dance? Damn, I gotta get my best rapin’ clothes on!

    5. It was pretty clear to me just skimming the article that he means they are telling the truth when they say negative things about Hillary.

      Come on, do you really suspect that Robby is just a Bernie-bot socialist playing the long con on us? Why would it even cross your mind that he was saying that every pronouncement that Bern-feelers make is true? That would be absurd to say about anyone.

    6. They’re not lying about Hillary being a lying sack of shit though

  8. Second of all? Clinton is a lying shitbag!

    No greater truth has even been spoken. I think those words should be immortalized on a memorial on the national mall.

    1. Just to avoid confusion, shouldn’t they go ahead and put two of those up?

    2. Clinton is a lying shitbag

      Poor George.

    3. Check the bathroom stalls

    4. But ? doesn’t it depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is?

    5. To parahprase the greatest quote I’ve seen on H&R comment section

      “Hilary said a few harmless fibs. Fiorina’s lies got people killed.”

      1. WTF? Who said that, Tony?

        1. Tony.

          He basically broke kayfabe (I believe that’s the right term? it’s very useful) but it doesn’t matter – I’ve never seen a more glorious thing on this board.

          1. Well, there was the time he called on the president to kill all libertarians with guided missiles.

    6. lying shitbag

      THAT’S TEH SEXIST!!!!!1!11 I’m telling Salon’s and Jezebel’s editorial staff. They’ll dispatch the reeducation device.

      Any opposition to HRH Empress-Queen Hillary is sexist!

  9. 1) Wonkette’s Kaili Joy Gray is citing
    2) The New Republic’s Jamil Smith, who cited
    3) Mashable’s Emily Cohn, who cited
    4) New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum, who credited to a Berniebro a quote from
    5) A Republican Congressman’s Twitter account, who turns out to not even be a Congressman, but rather
    6) A random troll who created a character “based on J.D. ‘Boss’ Hogg from the classic TV show, ‘The Dukes of Hazzard'”.

    This is straight up glorious.

    1. They will absolutely believe anything if it is something they want to hear. How in the hell could anyone be as stupid as Nussbaum? Did it never occur to her that a Congressman calling a woman a “cunt” in such a public fashion might have been a big story? Did she think she was the only one who noticed his twitter account?

    2. 6) A random troll who created a character “based on J.D. ‘Boss’ Hogg from the classic TV show, ‘The Dukes of Hazzard'”.
      7) Who cited Wonkette’s Kaili Joy Gray!

      1. I believe the technical term for that is ourobullshit.

        1. Logging in late to applaud that one.

    3. I assume it is how much of ‘the news’ is sourced and presented on such sites these days, but it’s still arresting to see it written out like that. I’ll check my sources for insignificant forum posts, but it seems like a ‘professional’ writing for Gawker or Vox or even TNR can’t be bothered to do the same. They just pass on what others are saying.

      1. Fact checking lead to less sensational stories, which lead to less clicks, which leads to less prominence for the writer. It’s one of the sad cycles I’m not sure how to break.

        1. Well, add to that fact checking might lead to someone getting ideas in their head about breaking the narrative in order to get a few extra clicks. And when you do that, how long is it before we have anarchy, with everyone challenging one another’s narratives?

          1. yes, but fewer facts + more sensational headlines leads to many more clicks, which leads to “In August 2015, NBCUniversal made a $200 million equity investment in Vox Media Inc., valuing the company at more than $1 billion”

            who needs facts?

    4. “Truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to be believed.”

    5. And, to go full Asimov

      0) The number of people who believe this is greater than number of libertarians in the US, and they found out from
      0.5) social media storm which originated with

      Doesn’t matter that you lay it out like that – by now tens of thousands believe Bernie bro called a nice, right-thinking woman “a cunt”.

  10. I was called an ugly cunt on the Nation magazine’s comment section by liberals and libertarians, back when these alleged Berniebros were still in preschool.

    *sniff* There’s some of that libertarian consistency I love to see.

    1. Indeed. I could join a liberaltarian alliance aimed at insulting proggy morons.

  11. It’s a tried and true tactic for those who are on the good side of main stream media. People might succeed in spite of it, but this strategy has yet to backfire on those who use it, so it will be around for a long time yet.

    Not sure what can be done about it. The only time I’ve seen anyone who previously bought what was being said realizing the error of their ways is if the machine gets turned against them (see GamerGate and the absolute shock from the more liberal members of how much out right slander gets taken for gospel truth when you are on the ‘evil’ side). Writing articles pointing out how there is no fire does not good. The people who need to read it will never see or even hear that these type articles exist.

    1. Wow.

      And ? if Hillary?

    2. Can we get them under contract to do so? I’ll campaign door to door for Trump if they’ll sign on to quit at his inauguration.

      1. ^This. Once that much dead wight is gone, his job is done and I’d sign the “Impeach Trump” petition afterwards.

      2. I’ll go with you. 🙂

    3. Who said that Trump can’t possibly be a good thing? It will take libertarians another 1000 years to accomplish that.

    4. ONLY good argument I’ve seen for a Trump presidency.

    5. I call bullshit on that. It would never happen. That said, even the chance of it happening is one hell of an endorsement for Trump.

      1. Yeah, but all the progs will move to Canada, they said so, and that’s even better!

      2. I call bullshit on that. It would never happen.

        No shit. The number of people who will actually follow through on that is infinitesimal.

        1. If even one federal employee quits her job…

          1. 25% is a compelling argument; 0.001%, not so much…

          2. Quite shilling for Trump SIV.

            1. Trump needs to stop scaring, enraging and successfully trolling everybody I hate.

    6. A 25% cut in the federal workforce is not just a moment. It’s more like the beginning of a new era.

      If they were determined to follow through, I’d actually go out an campaign for Trump.

      The reality is that

      1) Most won’t quit. They know how it is in the private sector; there, they expect results!

      2) The ones who do will be replaced in days by people who will still feed themselves out of our substance.

  12. The funniest Clinton shill is Joan Walsh. She said on twitter Clinton would win thanks to the ‘Obama coalition.’ I then asked her if she really thought an old white woman who spent her life in politics could hold together the Obama coalition, at which point she retweeted me and a bunch of her Hillary shill fans started calling me a misogynist for referring to a 68 year old woman as ‘old.’

    Calling critics of Hillary evil misogynists is basically all they have left to defend their shit candidate.

    1. Amanda Marcotte has also pledged her undying fealty. Shocking, I know.

    2. Wait, so you’re admitting that you actually engage people on Twitter?

      1. I’ve never claimed to be a good man, or even a decent one

        1. Now I see why my people left your shitty island for the pleasant Highlands.

    3. Just wait till she gets the nomination, and that becomes a mainstream position at home and abroad.

      I know I can’t wait for Neil MacDonald’s expose of horrible racism and mysoginy of [insert whoever gets GOP nomination here]. Hell, he probably has an article written, just gotta search/replace “Trump” on the off chance he doesn’t make it.

    4. Back during the 2008 campaign, I posted on Politico that I didn’t want Hillary as POTUS because one day she’s going to walk in on Billy Bob and some bimbo doing it on her desk in the Oval Office and then we’re all going to die in a nuclear holocaust. The fembots went completely fucking insane. There had to have been 1000 posts calling me out as a sexist misogynist woman hating heathen. I enjoyed every beer.

      1. Wait, weren’t you really insulting Bill in that case?

        1. Clinton is a shameless slut. Can you insult a man by calling out his favorite thing to do?

        2. Like it mattered, I said something bad about a person with a vagina. That’s as taboo as insulting a person of color.

          1. Yeah, if you think vagina person =/= perfect person, you are a bigot.

            I’m comfortable with my bigotry. It was either that, or become a cringing emasculated coward.

            1. Not to mention the non-shitty people with vaginas don’t like being equated with the shitty vagina havers.

    5. When the election arrives, she will be a whopping 8 months, 20 days (give or take a couple of days) younger than Reagan was when the 1980 election was held.

      1. AGESEXIST

  13. Schadenfreude is so much fun.

  14. The comments on the NYT endorsement of hillary clinton were about 80% anti-hillary/pro-bernie.

    And they were pretty evenly split male/female (as much as one can determine those sorts of things via anonymous commenting)

    referring to “Bernie bros” – with emphasis on the “bro” – seems to me a blatant effort to argue that any woman’s vote for Bernie is Gender Treason.

    Because all Bernie fans are dudes! And dudes are dicks!

    And all the people in the media pumping this (horribly sourced, completely contrived) idea are just hacks of the lowest order who have no place ever accusing anyone else of being “Trolls”.

    1. So basically, all Hillary has is “war on women” bullshit.

  15. I’ll say one more thing about my above statement and why I got (overly) bent out of shape: there’s only one statement in the entire article that a Bernie supporter took ownership of that was possible to declare “truthful” or not. I guess I looked at the whole article and was perplexed about them being right by default merely because the Clinton supporters are wrong. So I took that to mean Rico thought they must have been right about other things. And those other things being unidentified, I took it that he was making a blanket statement. My mistake for not reading more into it.

    1. I’ll apologize for not “getting it.

    2. It’s probably a good rule of thumb to assume that headlines (or sub-headlines), even at a fine publication like this one, are probably vague, misleading and intended to grab attention and not to assume that they accurately summarize the text that follows.

  16. I thought Robby’s piece on this was great, except for the iteration that HRC “*is* a lying shitbag.” True enough that she has often lied ,but I like that Reason desn’t go in for the hate-click articles that make up large portions of Salon, the Gawker Media sites, etc. ‘Shitbag’ confirmations, even if sourced from an actual qutoe, seems unnecessarily harsh in a Hit & Run blog.
    But good stuff otherwise,esp. calling out those who really are shilling for the Clinton camp. Glenn Greenwald also noted the Bernie Bros scam.

    1. Well, in some literal sense, we are all shitbags. So I’m happy to call that a true statement.

      1. We ain’t made of nothing but water and shit.

    2. But truth be told, she is a lying shitbag.

  17. It’s funny though, 8 years ago when Obama was the loved one, they were okay with the unofficial slogan, “Bros before Hos”

    1. Then again, feminists are pretty much in control now.

  18. She’s always eat their own

  19. This exact same thing happened with #GamerGate. People who were not affiliated with the consumer movement were acting out as trolls and such and the movement got the blame, even when there was no proof of any affiliation. It was also proven that many of the “attacking” accounts were sock puppets of the very people being “victimized”. It seems to be a common feminist tactic that gets the media talking about it. This is why you seen Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian on so many news shows. They created many of their own threats and it was proven that Wu never even left her home despite doing several interviews claiming otherwise in fear for her life.

    Sadly anyone saying otherwise will be labeled as a hater or misogynist.

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