Cable news network MSNBC came under fire from progressives Friday after the channel declined to cover a protester unfurling a Nazi flag at an Arizona event for Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate who lost family in the Holocaust, despite airing multiple segments accusing the Vermont senator's supporters of hurtful comments online.
"MSNBC now doing a segment about Bernie 'attacking' Biden by highlighting his record," tweeted comedian and Sanders supporter Jack Allison. "Still no mention of a Nazi waving a Nazi flag at a Sanders rally last night. So plainly ridiculous."
Backers of Sanders' presidential bid noted the network has a history of negative comments about the senator, including two incidents in February where prominent commentators analogized the Sanders campaign to the Third Reich.
"MSNBC pundits likened the Bernie campaign to Nazi Germany on air weeks ago," tweeted Electronic Intifada editor Tamra Nassar. "Yesterday, someone brought a Nazi flag to a Bernie rally."
MSNBC pundits likened the Bernie campaign to Nazi Germany on air weeks ago. Yesterday, someone brought a Nazi flag to a Bernie rally. (Sanders' own family members were killed in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust). But Maddow & Warren are busy discussing emojis on Twitter. https://t.co/SDXhm5CtAk— Tamara Nassar تمارا نصّار (@TamaraINassar) March 6, 2020
In February, MSNBC's Chuck Todd called Sanders supporters "brownshirts," sparking outrage from Jewish groups. Weeks later, now-departed host Chris Matthews analogized Sanders' performance in the Nevada caucuses to Nazi leader Adolph Hitler's invasion of France in 1939.
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"Very curious to see how MSNBC covers the lunatic who held up a Nazi flag at Bernie Sanders' rally after its hosts have compared Bernie's supporters to 'brown shirts' and his Nevada win to the fall of France," progressive activist Jordan Uhl tweeted shortly after the incident.
Sanders did not himself see the flag during the Arizona rally, but was informed of what happened later. On Friday, the senator addressed the incident, calling it "unspeakable."
As someone whose family was wiped out by Hitler and as an American, to have in this country somebody bringing forth the most detestable symbol in modern history is unspeakable. pic.twitter.com/0TySmmxhgh— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 6, 2020
Allison, an outspoken backer of Sanders, told Common Dreams that MSNBC's decision not to cover the incident wasn't out of ignorance. Allison said that he had contacted segment producer Daniel Arnall and passed on information about the incident but that Arnall had stopped responding to him.
"This is a senior TV news executive who has direct access to information about an antisemitic attack against a Jewish candidate for president," said Allison. "They have all the access to the information that they need. Whether or not they decide to report on it is a choice."
While NBC News had, as of press time, republished an Associated Press story on the incident, social media users claimed on Twitter that MSNBC's regular coverage was not touching the protest, but had aired multiple segments calling for Sanders to repudiate mean tweets ostensibly posted by his supporters.