Smoothing Hillary's Path to the Nomination? NYT Slams Sanders for Supporters' Actions During Nevada Primary

May 19th, 2016 7:10 PM

As the recent primary results in Kentucky and Oregon showed, Hillary Clinton has yet to put away challenger Bernie Sanders in her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, and as the general election looms, her supporters at the New York Times (and the rest of the media) are trying to shield her from Sanders’ “harm,” while pointing fingers at him for the alleged violence and death threats committed by his supporters after a meltdown and suspicions of process-rigging during the Nevada Democratic primary.

Refreshing as it is to see the media actually putting blame on a liberal politician or a political movement for the acts of its followers (rarely done in the case of Black Lives Matter or immigration rallies that turn violent), it's also true that slamming Sanders helps smooth Hillary's path to the nomination.

The paper’s lead story on Thursday by Patrick Healy, Yamiche Alcindor, and Jeremy Peters hinted at favoritism right from the headline stack: “Sanders Willing To Harm Clinton In Homestretch – Buoyed By Supporters – Upset Win in California Could Strengthen His Convention Hand.”

Defiant and determined to transform the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders is opening a two-month phase of his presidential campaign aimed at inflicting a heavy blow on Hillary Clinton in California and amassing enough leverage to advance his agenda at the convention in July -- or even wrest the nomination from her.


After sounding subdued if not downbeat about the race for weeks, Mr. Sanders resumed a combative posture against Mrs. Clinton, demanding on Wednesday that she debate him before the June 7 primary in California and highlighting anew what he asserted were her weaknesses against Mr. Trump.

Sanders’ side of the argument was briefly spelled out:

But his newly resolute attitude is also the cumulative result of months of anger at the national Democratic Party over a debate schedule that his campaign said favored Mrs. Clinton; a fund-raising arrangement between the party and the Clinton campaign; the appointment of fierce Clinton partisans as leaders of important convention committees; and the party’s rebuke of Mr. Sanders on Tuesday for not clearly condemning a melee at the Nevada Democratic convention on Saturday.

Sanders was apparently not thinking sufficiently of Hillary Clinton’s potentially historic role.

Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Mr. Sanders, said the campaign did not think its attacks would help Mr. Trump in the long run, but added that the senator’s team was “not thinking about” the possibility that they could help derail Mrs. Clinton from becoming the first woman elected president.

The paper appeared to fault the Sanders campaign for contesting the race hard.

Mr. Sanders’s street-fighting instincts have been encouraged by his like-minded campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, who has been blistering against the Clinton camp and the party establishment....The intraparty fighting has affected morale, they say, and raised concerns that Mr. Weaver, a longtime Sanders aide who more recently ran a comic book store, was not devoted to achieving Democratic unity. Several described the campaign’s message as having devolved into a near-obsession with perceived conspiracies on the part of Mrs. Clinton’s allies.

The Times quoted the party’s heavy hitters criticizing Sanders.

The melee there, at which Sanders supporters revolted and threatened the state Democratic chairwoman in a fight over delegates, intensified concerns among Clinton allies. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, who attended the convention, said she spoke with Mr. Sanders late Tuesday and said he was “distressed” by the Nevada episode.

“He will be judged as whether or not he has leadership qualities by the way he handles this,” she said.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who is close to Mr. Sanders, spoke with Mr. Sanders on Friday about not letting the state convention devolve into a messy fight. They spoke again on Tuesday afternoon, and Mr. Reid complained that a staff member who had attended feared for her safety. But Mr. Sanders’s subsequent statement condemning the violence, which mostly dwelled on how dismissively he felt the party was treating him, did little to soothe Mr. Reid’s unease.

“Bernie and I have known each other for a long time, and I believe he is better than this,” Mr. Reid said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s off-lead Times story by Yamiche Alcindor had a headline that suggests the candidate was responsible for the actions of his followers (you’d almost think Sanders was a Republican!): “Sanders Is Urged To Quell Threats By His Backers – Chairs Fly In Nevada – Uproar Over Selection of Delegates Heightens Party Friction.”

(Some Sanders supporters insist that no chairs were actually thrown, although one was lifted and put down.)

It included a front-page small photo of Sanders and the jump page with a photo of a miffed-looking Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid and the caption, “Harry Reid on Tuesday urged Bernie Sanders to “do the right thing” concerning his supporters.”

Raising the prospect of lasting fissures in the party, Senator Bernie Sanders rebuffed pressure on Tuesday to rein in his supporters after they disrupted a weekend Democratic convention in Nevada, throwing chairs and later threatening the state chairwoman in a fight over delegates. The uproar comes as Hillary Clinton is struggling to turn her and the party’s attention to the fall.

The Times continued to treat the Clinton coronation as a fait accompli.

The fight in Nevada underscored the determination of Mr. Sanders’s supporters to undermine Mrs. Clinton’s all-but-certain march to the nomination. On Tuesday she lost the Oregon primary but declared victory in Kentucky, where she held a 1,900-vote edge according to complete but unofficial returns.

Mrs. Clinton spent Monday campaigning in Kentucky, showing how the battle against Mr. Sanders continues to distract her campaign even as she turns her fire on Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. And leading Democrats have become increasingly vocal about the need to unify the party for the general election -- while being careful not to anger Mr. Sanders by urging him to quit the race.

Then came a line that should give Democratic pols nightmares of Chicago 1968.

But Sanders supporters remained defiant, raising the possibility of unrest on the streets outside the convention.