MSNBC reporter Alex Seitz-Wald first reported that a speaker at Bernie’s Washington Sq. Park rally on Wednesday referred to “corporate Democratic whores.” The outrage was immediate. By Thursday morning, #DemocraticWhores was among the top trending Twitter hashtags. The person who spoke those words, Dr. Paul Song, first apologized in a conversation with BNR contributor Melissa McEwan. He later posted an apology to Hillary on Facebook. But there was no initial apology or acknowledgment from Bernie, who thanked Song for his “great introduction.”
Dr. Paul Song: Now Secretary Clinton has said that Medicare for all will never happen. [boos] Well, I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for all will never happen if we have a president who never aspires for something greater than the status quo. [cheers] Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores [cheers] who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.”
After Song spoke, Bernie surrogate Rosario Dawson (whose over-the-top attacks have stirred controversy in recent weeks) suggested that Hillary is personally responsible for deaths that Bernie himself said Hillary is NOT accountable for.
Bernie then took the stage and thanked (yes, thanked) the speakers who introduced him for their “great introductions” — including Dr. Song and Dawson.
Instead of thanking these speakers, Bernie should have immediately repudiated their inflammatory language (and the supporters who cheered them). But as we’ve detailed time and again, the culture of Bernie’s campaign has become toxic — and it starts from the top. His campaign went from being about something to being against someone. Hillary-bashing is becoming the central purpose of Bernie’s “movement.”
Today, his campaign finally realized they had to confront the outcry:
And here was Song after the speech responding to BNR contributor Melissa McEwan with an apology:
Even in the heat of a primary, there are limits to what candidates and their surrogates should say. The Sanders campaign is increasingly willing to cross that line. It’s good that they’ve tried to walk this incident back, but more should be done in the face of the constant verbal savaging of Hillary and her supporters, including vicious attacks on legendary activists like Dolores Huerta, John Lewis and Tom Hayden.
Winning is just not worth risking one’s dignity.
[This article was updated on 4/14/16]
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)