Saturday, January 30, 2016

How many smears on Sanders supporters can we debunk in one week?

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.

But for the most part, you'll get what I've been railing against since September: an endless chain of writers citing other writers, as when Jamil Smith cites the Mashable article. And as when Kaili Joy Gray cites...Jamil Smith.

These are not trivial or isolated instances. Traister, Valenti, Smith, and Gray are all prominent media figures. New York Magazine, Jezebel, BBC, Mashable, and The New Republic are influential, mainstream outlets with giant, corporate-sponsored platforms. These people (and their boosters) have been aggressively promoting this smear for months on end, all while refusing to respond to sustained, serious and direct criticism.

Criticism from the usual Sanders supporter suspects is not going to stop this. What could curb it is if journalists realize that they're ruining their professional reputations by peddling this nonsense. Editors should ask their writers if they really want to be the next Jerome Corsi. Colleagues should tell them to stop embarrassing their publications. Political allies should remind themselves that Clinton has done this before, and ask themselves if they really want to be a part of it.

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'".