On Wednesday's CNN Newsroom, Carol Costello hounded Bernie Sanders surrogate Charles Chamberlain over the chaos at Nevada's Democratic state convention between the supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Costello accused Sanders's director for delegates of "egging things on in Nevada." She later wondered, "How are these supporters for Bernie Sanders different from the supporters of Donald Trump...they also think that the system is rigged, and they're accused of violence." Meanwhile, the anchor tossed softball questions at a Hillary Clinton supporter. [video below]
Costello brought on Chamberlain and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers (who supports Mrs. Clinton) for a panel discussion on the state convention. The host had pointed out how the Democratic chairwoman in Nevada had received angry phone calls from Sanders. She first asked Chamberlain, "Does Bernie Sanders owe the Nevada state chair, Roberta Lange, an apology?" The guest answered, in part, that "Bernie has been unequivocal in condemning all violence....But this attempt to hold Bernie specifically accountable for this — to demand a personal apology — that's not justice. That's a Hillary partisan trying to gain political points."
The CNN anchor merely asked Sellers, "Do you agree?" The former South Carolina politician underlined that "Bernie Sanders...and everyone else had an opportunity to display leadership yesterday; and fundamentally and simply, they did not. What happened in Nevada should not happen again."
Costello then played up the Sanders director's plea to her candidate's supporters at the convention in her next question to Chamberlain: "You were kind of confused about where these phone calls were coming from. But they were pretty clearly coming from Bernie Sanders supporters — and here's why I say that: a senior Sanders aide encouraged supporters, the night before the Nevada convention, to take over the convention and try to change party rules." She asked her "egging things on" question after playing a clip of the director from the party confab.
When the Sanders supporter countered that the party officials "disqualified over 50 Bernie delegates; and...rightfully, people were very upset about that. That's why even good people were out there booing and yelling and calling names," Costello interrupted by asserting that "the fight was over two delegates. Two! Two!" Chamberlain retorted, "The actual outcome is a rigged system. And when people feel like they're part of a rigged system, they get upset; they get angry."
The journalist followed up with her likening of Sanders's base to Trump supporters. The guest touted how "no Bernie Sanders supporter has ever been arrested for actually assaulting anyone. Yes, there's been some terrible threats, and these are bad....But the bottom line is that only one person has been arrested in the Democratic primary, and that was Wendell Pierce, the Hillary Clinton supporter who attacked a Bernie supporter."
The full transcript of the Charles Chamberlain/Bakari Sellers segment from CNN Newsroom on May 18, 2016:
CAROL COSTELLO: With me now, Clinton supporter and CNN commentator, Bakari Sellers — I'm also joined by Charles Chamberlain. He's a Bernie Sanders surrogate and executive director of Democracy for America. Welcome to both of you.
[CNN Graphic: "2016 Race: Fears Sanders Revolt Could Disrupt Convention; Anger Boils Over Inside Democratic Party"]
BAKARI SELLERS: Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: Charles, does Bernie Sanders owe the Nevada state chair, Roberta Lange, an apology?
CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN, SANDERS SURROGATE: You know, Bernie has been unequivocal in condemning all violence — especially any that could come from any of his supporters. And I hope that the chairwoman has turned her phone over to the FBI, and that there's a full investigation into finding out who these threats came from and for those people to be held accountable. But this attempt to hold Bernie specifically accountable for this — to demand a personal apology — that's not justice. That's a Hillary partisan trying to gain political points; and frankly, it should be unacceptable. I don't think he should apologize to her. He should continue to make the case for why he is the best choice to win the nomination; and then,the presidency.
COSTELLO: Bakari, do you agree?
[CNN Graphic: "Anger Boils Over Inside Democratic Party; Sanders Faces Heat From Party Leadership"]
BAKARI SELLERS, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I have to disagree, because of the simple fact that at this moment in time, this race needs leadership. And Bernie Sanders and Jeff Weaver and everyone else had an opportunity to display leadership yesterday; and fundamentally and simply, they did not. What happened in Nevada should not happen again. What happened in Nevada is below as Democrats; as below the process; and frankly, it's below what this country stands for. So, I'm quite disappointed in the reaction by Senator Sanders and by Mr. Weaver. And this isn't any type of partisan attack. What this is simply saying is that we should stand up for something, and we should be against the violence that we saw unequivocally — no if's, and's, or but's. And I think that that is what she's asking for — plain and simply.
COSTELLO: And Charles, with that in mind — and you mentioned that you don't know. You were kind of confused about where these phone calls were coming from. But they were pretty clearly coming from Bernie Sanders supporters — and here's why I say that: a senior Sanders aide encouraged supporters, the night before the Nevada convention, to take over the convention and try to change party rules. Listen.
[CNN Graphic: "Nevada Dem. Leader: Sanders Staff Feeds Anger; Sanders Aide To Backers: 'You Should Not Leave'"]
JOAN KATO, SANDERS' NATIONAL DELEGATES DIRECTOR (from audio recording): You should not leave. I'm going to repeat that. Unless you are told by somebody from the campaign — i.e., probably me or David — that you can leave, you should not leave. I don't care if the chair is up there herself — or whoever the chair is and whoever becomes the chair. You should not leave.
COSTELLO: So Charles, this is coming from a senior Sanders aide. Wasn't she egging things on in Nevada?
CHAMBERLAIN: I don't think that telling supporters of a candidate that they should stay through the entirety of a caucus not to leave until the end of the caucus is in any way supporting or advocating for any kind of violence.
Look, two kinds of terrible things happened on Saturday: the first and foremost is the violence. If the violence happened — and certainly, these horrible, horrible voicemails and threats — they're terrible, and they absolutely have to stop, and the people that did them need to be held accountable. Those aren't good Bernie Sanders supporters. They're bad people, and they need to be held accountable. But the second bad thing that happened was the Democratic Party in Nevada changed the rules midstream. They disqualified over 50 Bernie delegates; and, I think, rightfully, people were very upset about that. That's why even good people were out there booing and yelling and calling names—
COSTELLO: Actually — actually, the fight — just to be clear, the fight was over two delegates—
COSTELLO: Two! Two!
SELLERS: I mean, I — if I can chime [in] here—
CHAMBERLAIN: The outcome — the rules changes cost 50 delegates for Bernie Sanders. So yeah, the outcome is two delegates; but the actual outcome is a rigged system. And when people feel like they're part of a rigged system, they get upset; they get angry. That's the difference between losing — losing, you're disappointed; you're sad. But you get angry when the system is rigged against you.
COSTELLO: Well, how — Charles, I just — Barkari, I just want to ask Charles to clarify: so how are these supporters for Bernie Sanders different from the supporters of Donald Trump that everybody criticizes — because they also think that the system is rigged, and they're accused of violence at Trump rallies — how is it different?
CHAMBERLAIN: Well, there is a very specific difference. First of all, no one has ever been arrested — no Bernie Sanders supporter has ever been arrested for actually assaulting anyone. Yes, there's been some terrible threats, and these are bad. And yes, people have been offended. But the bottom line is that only one person has been arrested in the Democratic primary, and that was Wendell Pierce, the Hillary Clinton supporter who attacked a Bernie supporter.
So, I don't see anybody calling for Hillary Clinton to apologize for Wendell Pierce personally. And I think the reality here is that this is becoming a partisan breakup, because the party — they're worried — and they should be worried. In Philadelphia, it's vitally important that we don't see the same kind of trickery; the kind of rigged system by the Democratic Party played out on the Bernie delegates there. We need a fair system—
COSTELLO: Okay. So let Bakari — let Bakari weigh in. So, does Charles have a point?
SELLERS: No. In fact, the reason that Bernie Sanders — and I hate to break it to Charles or whomever else — the reason that Bernie Sanders is not winning this race is, quite simply, the fact that he doesn't have the most votes. He doesn't have the most votes; he doesn't have the most pledged delegates; he doesn't have the most super-delegates. If you take away super-delegates, or they vote the way of the state, Hillary Clinton still wins.
But you are correct in saying that this party needs to come together. This is not something that we haven't seen before. In fact, I would go out and say that in 2008, the schism between the party was much more visceral; the angst was higher; the rancor was higher. And we're not at that point. But what I will say is this: Bernie Sanders has an amazing opportunity to not only lead his movement, but be a leader in this country. And when someone asks you a question and you tell tuck tail and run, or you refuse to stand up during this time when it's an apparent need, then you have to display leadership; or else, your movement will fail. And I think that's what everybody wants Bernie Sanders to do: stand up and say something about this.
COSTELLO: Bakari Sellers, Charles Chamberlain, thanks to you both.
SELLERS: Thank you.