Bloomberg slams Sanders supporters' aggressive online tactics in new video

CNN's Dana Bash and panelists discuss Michael Bloomberg's recent digital ad featuring aggressive and derogatory tweets, memes and videos purportedly posted by Bernie Sanders' online supporters.

Posted: Feb 18, 2020 12:30 AM
Updated: Feb 18, 2020 12:30 AM

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked Bernie Sanders on Monday in a new digital video featuring aggressive and derogatory tweets, memes and videos purportedly posted by the Vermont senator's online supporters.

The nearly minute-long clip, which will not run on television, closes with a bite of Sanders calling for people "who hold different views" to "engage in a civil discourse." Text then flashes on-screen, asking, "Really?"

Bloomberg launched the video in response to a recent Sanders' speech that questioned whether the billionaire former mayor's record, including his past embrace of "racist policies like stop-and-frisk'," would ultimately depress Democratic turnout in a general election campaign against President Donald Trump.

The behavior of a section of Sanders campaign's young and, in many cases, very online base has fueled a backlash from the Vermont senator's opponents over its often aggressive rhetoric -- some of which has crossed the line into outright harassment. But many of Sanders' supporters have pushed back against what they describe as a bad faith weaponization of the so-called "Bernie bros" phenomenon, often noting the diversity of Sanders' support.

Bloomberg's morning blitz touched off a day-long back-and-forth between the two camps. By mid-afternoon, Bloomberg's campaign manager had charged Sanders' staff with using "the very same attacks and tactics" employed by President Donald Trump. His statement to reporters went out with the subject line, "BERNIE'S NEW BRO... DONALD TRUMP." Two hours later, Sanders' tweeted an image of Bloomberg and Trump -- together -- on a golf course.

The exchange could mark the beginning of a new chapter in the campaign, with the billionaire Bloomberg unleashing his massive campaign apparatus in an effort to drive down support and discredit the Democratic primary's current leader in polls and fundraising. Bloomberg has already spent in excess of $400 million since entering the race despite deciding not to contest any of the early states. He will make his first appearance on the ballot in a little more than two weeks on Super Tuesday.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

In a statement to CNN, Sanders spokeswoman Sarah Ford condemned the ad and reiterated Sanders' call for supporters to be civil in their online interactions.

"Sen. Sanders is building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational movement for justice. We recognize that our opponents in the establishment would like to perpetuate a false myth to discount the breadth and diversity of our supporters -- and we categorically reject it," Ford said. "As the senator has said loudly and clearly, there is no room in the political revolution for abuse and harassment online, and we must live our values of love and compassion."

Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Galia Slayen responded, saying in a statement, "Our campaign believes we need to unite to defeat Trump in November, but the kind of divisive 'energy' being displayed by 'Bernie Bros' is not going to get us there."

Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir, in a tweet referencing the ad, took more direct aim at Bloomberg.

"Candidate trying to buy the election is trying to smear candidate trying to win with a people-powered movement," he wrote.

Sanders has acknowledged the harassment perpetuated by some of his online followers and sought to distance his campaign from their behavior. In February, when he entered the race, Sanders wrote a memo to surrogates urging them to keep their uniforms clean.

"Let us do our very best to engage respectfully with our Democratic opponents ― talking about the issues we are fighting for, not about personalities or past grievances," Sanders said. "I want to be clear that I condemn bullying and harassment of any kind and in any space."

Though most of his top surrogates have adhered to that request, others have, during a number of high profile incidents strayed from it. The most notable outburst came during the controversy over whether Sanders, in a private meeting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018, said he did not believe a woman could win the presidency. Warren and her supporters were bombarded with snake emojis -- suggesting her campaign had intentionally leaked the account to discredit her longtime political ally turned campaign rival -- in the aftermath.

One of Sanders' most prominent endorsers, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, fired back at Bloomberg over the ad on Monday, calling it an attempt to distract from the growing uproar over the former mayor's record on race relations.

Jayapal, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN's Dana Bash that she "abhor(s) the online Twitter world" and has been the target of abuse herself, but that she mostly dismissed those messages "because they just aren't reflective of the real world," before pointing to Sanders' repeated calls for civility.

"Bernie has consistently and recently multiple times said he doesn't want these kinds of people in the movement," Jayapal said. "But to focus on these folks really erases women and folks of color and the tens of millions of people who literally bring an incredible energy everywhere they go ... These women of color, black and brown folks, don't deserve to have Bloomberg paint us and stereotype us in this way."

One of the groups singled out in Bloomberg's video, New York Communities for Change, which recently protested a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden by staging a mock political funeral, apologized for their theater on Monday -- "we went too far," they tweeted -- before unloading on Bloomberg.

"Our protest is now being used in a disinformation campaign by Mike Bloomberg. He is spending hundreds of millions to buy the presidency and falsely claiming that we are in support of any presidential candidate," the group said in a thread on Twitter.

Lafayette
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 29°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Frankfort
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 34°
Frankfort
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 34°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 29°
Mild Conditions Continue Wednesday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

WLFI is promoting fire safety with FREE smoke detectors

 WLFI and several local fire departments are helping with your fire safety this winter. CLICK HERE. 

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
Parke137915
Pike127232
Blackford120027
Pulaski105643
Newton96431
Brown94639
Benton91113
Crawford90113
Martin80114
Switzerland7507
Warren74612
Union66810
Ohio52711
Unassigned0425

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events