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General News    H3'ed 2/8/20

This is NOT the way to get Bernie Elected: Subset of Supporters Using Hostile Tactics to Drown Out Critics

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Working Families Party Endorses Warren OVER Sanders The Working Families Party endorses Elizabeth Warren over Bernie Sanders. Ana Kasparian and Ben Burgis break it down on #NoFilter. ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: NoFilter with Ana Kasparian)
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(Above all, I want to see Bernie win and have for the past five years: I absolutely don't want this sort of thing to mushroom or go uncorrected or unadmonished, so that is why I am making this article now. I welcome responses from all quarters.)

This article is extracted and lightly edited from KTLA coverage of the campaign, a Los Angeles TV station:

After Working Families Party endorsed Warren, Sander supporters responded angrily on Reddit for days. One Reddit member (of which there are 300,000) suggested Sanders supporters should spy on WFP activities and organize counter events.

On Twitter, Sanders supporters hurled hundreds of critical messages at WFP and its leadership, calling them "shameless," "corrupt," and "bloodless scumbag hacks." One even lobbed the insult that "slave masters" had forced the support of the party's African American national director.

3 days later, a WFP spokeswoman shared a screenshot of one message that wished she and her colleagues would "all get cancer you are f**king trash." She said they received private messages saying "eat sh*t and die" and "drop dead dumb c*nts."

As Sanders surges as a top contender in the 2020 presidential race, such online harassment has become a source of derision among the Vermont senator's critics who say his campaign's success on social media is undermined by trends of bullying within subsets of his followers.

[This is quite serious and the top levels of Bernie's support staff MUST take action to prevent any more of this!]

We know very well that Facebook groups and other social media are and will continue to be full of angry and controversial remarks.

Across the political spectrum, posts ranging from witty snark to harassment and abuse can be found by any candidate's supporters. Speaking to this reality, some digital media experts say the level of hostility in pockets of Sanders' online following outweighs that within the social media circles of his Democratic rivals.

Days after Sanders announced his bid last February, he condemned bullying in an email to his campaign representatives and encouraged them to "engage respectfully." But since that time, throngs of his Internet supporters have shunned that approach and continued to use ad hominem tactics to advocate for their preferred candidate.

More than 12 users of social media spoke to CNN about their experiences with bullying by Sanders supporters.

They described threats against family members, the creation of imposter accounts that resembled their own and what some described as being "swarmed," where barrages of vitriol filled their Twitter feeds and inboxes for days after they posted something critical of Sanders.

"I had never experienced that level of aggression before," said Patty Kasbek, a veterinary technician in Oklahoma who said she criticizes President Donald Trump on Twitter more than any other political figure but said she faced the most hostility after she accused Sanders of being misogynistic. She said she received messages such as "STFU" and "eat this" poop emoji, among other insults.

Two other targets said they were so tormented by the online attacks they faced following their public questioning or criticism of Sanders that they requested those specific circumstances not be reported for fear such harassment could start up again. Both said Sanders supporters exposed their addresses, shared their personal photos and spread information about their relatives and work colleagues.

Sanders has personally intervened in some cases: for example, when health care activist Ady Barkan, a health care activist with A.L.S. endorsed Warren, he was deluged with negativity from members of Sanders supporters, some accusing him of selling out or being so affected by his disease that someone else must have made the endorsement decision for him. Sanders tweeted support for Barkan amidst the outrage.

In the case of the Working Families Party's Warren endorsement, the organization's staffers openly complained that they had been threatened. More than 100 African American leaders then signed a letter that said the party's leadership had been attacked by self-identified Sanders supporters with words including "Uncle Tom" and "slave."

While the backlash also included sincere questions about the Working Families Party's policy positions and demands to see the vote tallies behind the endorsement, the scale of the harassment led Sanders to tweet, "This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space."

In a statement to CNN, the Sanders campaign's deputy communications director, Sarah Ford, said, "The senator has said loudly and clearly, there is no room in the political revolution for abuse and harassment online."


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Early in the 2016 Primary campaign, I started a Facebook group: Bernie Sanders: Advice and Strategies to Help Him Win! As the primary season advanced, we shifted the focus to advancing Bernie's legislation in the Senate, particularly the (more...)

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