Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Anita Dunn

Then-managing director of SKDKnickerbocker Communications Anita Dunn in conversation at FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner at U.S. Department of State's Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Room on April 30, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune)

Biden Adviser Compares Sanders at Debate to the 'Kind of Protester Who Often Shows Up at Campaign Events'

"Let this sink in. Understand that all of us in the Sanders campaign are seen as nothing but trespassers on their party property and they absolutely cannot wait to call the cops."

Jessica Corbett

Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, faced a bevy of criticism after saying Sunday night that Sen. Bernie Sanders behaved like the "kind of protester who often shows up at campaign events" during the 11th Democratic presidential debate.

Similar versions of Dunn's remark from a post-debate call with journalists were reported by Janet Hook at the Los Angeles Times, Ken Thomas at the Wall Street Journal, and Natasha Korecki of Politico. Dunn said Biden dealt with the Vermont senator "graciously."

Sanders surrogates, political commentators, and some journalists charged that Dunn's comment exposed how Biden's supporters regard activists challenging the vice president's record as well as voters and politicians in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

As Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent at The Nation, put it: "The Biden people have nothing but contempt for the progressive wing of the party."

Columbia Law School student Alex Clavering drew a similar but broader conclusion, tweeting that "the Democratic Party has nothing but disdain for activists."

"When Democratic establishment figures spend a couple weeks condescendingly pretending to like and respect Sanders and his voters, remember what they really think of you."
—Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

Dunn's comment also came in the wake of activists with various groups interrupting a Biden rally in Detroit last week to call out the former vice president for supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and pressure him to fully embrace the Green New Deal. Biden said of the protesters, "The Bernie bros are here!"

In response to Dunn's comment Sunday, author and activist Naomi Klein, a Sanders surrogate, said: "Let this sink in. Understand that all of us in the Sanders campaign are seen as nothing but trespassers on their party property and they absolutely cannot wait to call the cops."

The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald directed his response at Sanders' supporters, tweeting, "When Democratic establishment figures spend a couple weeks condescendingly pretending to like and respect Sanders and his voters, remember what they really think of you."

Ahead of the debate, a coalition of youth organizations urged the candidates to have "a serious discussion" about "the issues that face our generation," including income and racial inequality, immigration and migrant justice, education, gun violence, and the climate crisis. Entrance and exit polls from states that have held primaries and caucuses so far have indicated a generational divide among voters, with more young people behind Sanders and older Democrats backing Biden, the frontrunner.

Diane Russell, a former Democratic state representative and gubernatorial candidate in Maine, warned in response to Dunn's remark that "alienating... young voters who overwhelmingly support Bernie is a terrible idea, and detracts from an otherwise healthy debate."

Ryan Grim, The Intercept's D.C. bureau chief, also suggested the comment could have consequences for the vice president at the ballot box. "What could motivate a Biden adviser to say something like this?" said Grim. "Shouldn't this level of contempt be kept to dinner parties and green rooms?"

Independent journalist Jordan Chariton on Monday highlighted Biden's inconsistent claims about being involved with civil rights activism:

Others drew attention to Dunn's record. In addition to serving as acting White House communications director for part of former President Barack Obama's first year in office, Dunn was a consultant to Harvey Weinstein shortly before publication of the 2017 New York Times investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the Hollywood mogul seen as a pivotal moment in the #MeToo movement. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison earlier this month after being convicted of two felony sex crimes in New York.

Jeremy Scahill, another co-founder of The Intercept, tweeted that "'unity' means Harvey Weinstein's former advisor turned Biden campaign head tells you what to do and keeps you away from the adults."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo