As it became clear Saturday evening that Sen. Bernie Sanders would run away with the Nevada caucus and secure his position as the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, MSNBC anchors and contributors lashed out at the senator and his supporters in bizarre and sometimes hysterical fashion, descending into what one observer could only describe as a “full-blown freakout.”
Earlier in the Democratic primary process, the Comcast-owned network was notorious for ignoring the senator from Vermont, and covering him negatively when it covered him at all.
But Saturday marked a clear escalation in hostility from MSNBC‘s on-air personalities as Sanders’ diverse coalition of supporters propelled him to a landslide victory in Nevada, the third consecutive state in which the senator has won the popular vote.
Nicole Wallace, former communications director for the George W. Bush White House, described Sanders’ multi-racial, multi-generational coalition as a “squeaky, angry minority” and accused the senator of deploying “dark arts” as she introduced Democratic political consultant James Carville, who proceeded to declare Sanders’ win in Nevada a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At one point in his appearance, Carville waved at the camera and said, “Hi, Vlad,” suggesting Putin was likely watching MSNBC‘s coverage of the caucus results.
Wallace later lamented that she has “no idea what voters think about anything anymore” after her colleague, Steve Kornacki, explained that Sanders performed well in precincts with a large number of Culinary Union workers, despite the union leadership’s antagonism toward the senator.
NPR‘s Maria Hinojosa, a frequent MSNBC contributor, demanded to know what Sanders has done to “actually deliver for Latino and Latina voters” after the senator dominated the Democratic field among those voters in Nevada.
“MSNBC sure has a lot of commentators who hate Sanders,” tweeted Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice who served as national press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The most unhinged lines of Saturday night came from “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, who compared Sanders’ Nevada win to the Nazi invasion of France.
“I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940,” said Matthews. “And the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says, ‘How can that be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.'”
“So I had that suppressed feeling,” Matthews continued. “I can’t be as wild as Carville but he is damn smart, and I think he’s damn right on this one.”
Earlier Saturday, as Common Dreams reported, Matthews suggested that four more years of President Donald Trump might be better for the Democratic Party than a Sanders presidency.
Matthews’ remarks comparing the Sanders campaign to Nazis—not the first time an MSNBC host has made such a comparison—sparked immediate backlash and demands for his resignation.
Mike Casca, communications director for the Sanders campaign, tweeted that he “never thought part of my job would be pleading with a national news network to stop likening the campaign of a Jewish presidential candidate whose family was wiped out by the Nazis to the Third Reich.”
“But here we are,” Casca wrote.
“For those of you unfortunate enough to have turned on MSNBC,” wrote Hill TV‘s Krystal Ball, “you have witnessed a full-blown freakout. Nazi comparisons, commentators near tears, and even a stunning admission that maybe they don’t understand the country anymore.”
MSNBC‘s network-wide meltdown was so apparent that commentators on rival networks took notice—and talked about it on live television.
“There’s another station, another channel,” said CNN contributor Van Jones, “where people are freaking out, melting down, all across the country, at least all over the airwaves.”
“He’s not wrong,” Jones said of Sanders. “The establishment is upset.”
Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, attempted to explain the corporate media’s open hostility toward Sanders and his supporters in an appearance on CNN Saturday evening.
“I’m a relatively new person here at CNN,” said Rojas, who contributes to the network as a political commentator. “There are not a ton of people that are my age, or that look like me. Most of the people that sit in a lot of the most powerful rooms in the country pushing forward our news are… not the same level of class.”
“Even though it might not be, you know, literally some person pulling the strings,” Rojas said, “there is a worldview that is vastly different from the everyday voter.”