Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had a terse message for any of his supporters who engage in online harassment: “We don’t want that crap.” He told CNN on Sunday that the so-called “Berniebro” phenomenon is “disgusting” and that “anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things — we don’t want them.”
The “Berniebro” phenomenon, where a mob of online Sanders supporters attack politicians and writers who express views critical of the Vermont senator or supportive of his Democratic rival Secretary Hilary Clinton, launched numerous thinkpieces from journalists unfortunate enough to encounter them online. At their worst, Berniebros have accused Clinton supporters of voting “based on who had the vagina” and have invented novel sexist terms such as “clitrash.”
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has engaged in an escalating series of tactics trying to convince the Berniebros to cut it out. Sanders’ rapid response director asked the senator’s supporters to chill on Twitter:
if you support @berniesanders, please follow the senator's lead and be respectful when people disagree with you.
— mike casca (@cascamike) January 26, 2016
Similarly, the campaign’s digital media director Héctor Sigala wrote on the online forum Reddit that “we love our supporters and we know we wouldn’t be here without you all, but it does add a layer of complexity when we have to track what you all do during some moments when we are shaping our messaging.” He added a warning to the senator’s most obnoxious supporters: “Just know you represent our movement and be respectful with those who disagree with you.”
Now, however, the campaign appears sufficiently concerned about online harassment that the candidate himself has spoken out in the strongest possible terms. It’s not every day that a candidate labels activities that are ostensibly done to bolster his or her candidacy “crap.”