Matt Taibbi Is Going Full Bernie Bro...On Bernie Sanders?
This is shocking, even by the far left's standards.
by Ben Cohen
Bernie Sanders created a genuine political movement in America. He inspired young and old, black and white, men and women to fight for universal healthcare, an end to student debt, a new Green Deal and increased taxation on the rich. He made a large number of Americans believe it was possible for the country to change in necessary ways, and he deserves an immense amount of credit for it.
Progressive political movements are necessary to force progress, and Bernie Sanders has done just that. He has forced the Democratic party to the left and made it politically dangerous to oppose the concept of universal health care or regulating Wall St. But every political movement, no matter how well intentioned, is susceptible to militants and ideologues who can take over the cause and wreck it from the inside.
Bernie Sanders’ movement has spawned a militant form of leftist “true believers” who are so dedicated to the ideals laid out by Sanders that they will now apparently turn on Sanders himself if he shows any ideological flexibility. As I argued in my column last week, these true believers have derailed Sanders’ campaign and made their leader unelectable — a spectacular own goal that they are unfortunately incapable of recognizing.
The latest true believer to turn on the leader himself is none other than Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi. Taibbi has spent the past three years destroying his journalistic credibility by denying Russiagate and opposing Trump’s impeachment despite mountains of publicly availably, highly incriminating evidence. He has waged an unrelenting war on centrist Democrats alongside leftist ideologies like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey, and covered the Democratic primary as if it were a giant conspiracy created to rob Bernie Sanders of the nomination.
After it became clear Sanders could not win the primary, Taibbi is in full meltdown mode over the implosion of the campaign, and has now turned on Sanders himself for not being sufficiently militant.
Sanders, according to Taibbi, didn’t lose the primary to Joe Biden because African Americans decided he wasn’t the best candidate to beat Trump, or working class Americans believed Joe Biden was more likely to get vital legislation passed as a President. It was because Sanders had the temerity to apologize for his militant supporters’ repellent behavior:
Sanders lost any chance at the presidency the moment he started apologizing for his followers, handing outlets like the Daily Beast headlines like “Sanders calls Bernie Bros ‘Disgusting’” on a silver platter. (He also all but handed Biden the nomination when he renounced surrogate Zephyr Teachout’s op-ed about Biden’s “corruption” problem, but that’s another issue).
One doesn’t need a study like the one done by Harvard grad student Jeff Winchell to prove there’s nothing exceptional about Bernie’s online following. Anyone who’s been to a Sanders event knows the “Bro” narrative is a crock. The prototypical Sanders supporter is a young working parent overwhelmed by student or medical debt. They are women as often as men, and tend to be following Sanders in the first place because they’ve done everything by the book (including voting for traditional Democrats), yet are still in a hole. These are people with real problems, people who need help.
Bernie knows this, but allowed my jerkoff press colleagues to paint his supporters as an unruly mob of dude college students who listen to Chapo Traphouse and fire Twitter insults all day while living off a parent’s allowance.
Firstly Taibbi’s claim that “the “Bro” narrative is a crock” is ludicrous when you look at the data and do some basic math. The study Taibbi cites is based on a study by Jeff Winchell, a computational social scientist and graduate student at Harvard University. Winchell “proved” that Sanders' supporters behave the same as everyone else online by using something called ‘Sentiment analysis’ that, according to Winchell “summarizes human expression into various scores”.
There are various problems with this so called proof, the first being that sentiment analysis is not 100% accurate (it’s reported to be roughly 80-85% accurate). The second is that even if it is accurate, the number of unpleasant Bernie supporters is still much higher. Why? Because as Winchell admits in his interview with Salon, “there is one key difference that Twitter users and media don't seem to be aware of. Bernie has a lot more Twitter followers than Twitter followers of other Democrat's campaigns.”
Sanders has 17.9 million twitter followers compared to Biden’s 4.8 million, meaning he has over three times as many bad actors going online attacking people. Given Biden has significantly more supporters in real life, it is reasonable to assume that there are proportionally more bad actors in Sanders’ camp than there are in Biden’s.
By all reasonable accounts, Sanders didn’t do nearly enough to stomp out the disgusting behavior of this vocal cohort of his supporters. He had four years to get rid of the toxic element of his political movement, but instead hired professional liars like David Sirota to tweet provably false nonsense at all of his opponents day and night. That is part of the reason why Elizabeth Warren refused to endorse him after she dropped out of the race. That is why liberals sympathetic to Sanders’ cause were turned off by him. But not according to Taibbi, who thinks publishing the phone numbers and home addresses of minority women who worked for Elizabeth Warren online was nothing more than online japery:
The storyline snowballed, culminating in scenes like one in early March that saw millionaires Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow take turns bemoaning the awesome destructive power of Bernie’s Twitter commentators. The surprisingly shameless Warren went so far as to suggest that the campaign should devote resources to the ongoing refutation of online Bros.
The Warren-Maddow tête-à-tête was a perfect symbol of everything Sanders spent his career renouncing. Heading into a pandemic that left the richest country in the world paralyzed for lack of hospital beds, a functioning coverage system, and testing capability, our upper classes wept over rando Twitter meanies.
Taibbi has become such a militant that even Elizabeth Warren (a millionaire!) was shamelessly trying to destroy Sanders because of her allegiance to the DNC/corporations/the super rich. For anyone familiar with Taibbi’s work over the years, the sloppy, conspiratorial innuendos are shocking to say the least.
Taibbi is clearly completely unaware that he is one of the reasons why many liberals aren’t “down with the cause”. His dishonest journalism and incessant attacks on anyone who disagrees with him are hallmarks of a militant ideologue, and reasonable people don’t want anything to do with it. Taibbi though has interpreted this as a conspiracy theory orchestrated by “corporate dems” and the dastardly DNC working in tandem to take the election away from Bernie and hand it to a senile corporate shill working on behalf of the insurance industry.
In the lead up to the debate between Sanders and Biden this past weekend, Taibbi had been doing his best to portray Biden as a mentally incompetent Alzheimer’s patient in waiting (or a “corporate-funded neurological glitch” as he called him). He was shocked that Biden didn’t fall apart in the debate, and then suggested Biden (and even Sanders) were on drugs to get through it:
Taibbi knows better than this. He surely understands the consequences of electing Donald Trump for another four years, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet in 2020 after three and a half years of mind blowing insanity, he is still making false equivalences between the two parties.
Now that Taibbi has written Bernie Sanders off as being insufficiently loyal to his own movement, one dreads to think who he will now get behind to take down the corporate Dems. Tulsi Gabbard? Jill Stein?
It is sad to see a once great journalist embarrass himself like this, particularly in such dangerous times.
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