For months, Sanders supporters have objected to what they perceive as highly biased coverage by mainstream media. The media has been condemned for its abbreviated coverage of the Clinton email scandal (including notable failures to ask follow up questions of Clinton) as well as a steady drumbeat dismissing Sanders as a serious challenger. Now, New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor has infuriated even non-Sanders supporters with a bizarre suggestion that Sanders is sexist for merely opposing Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread ridicule, Alcindor insists that Sanders was the one in the wrong for expressing legitimate shock at the insulting question. She later tweeted: “Some women think
@BernieSanders will be standing in way of history tmrw if HRC wins & he doesn’t concede. He got testy when I asked; Oh well.”
Sanders legitimately bristled at the suggestion that continuing to challenge Clinton is sexist and asked “excuse me” several times to the overtly hostile question. Various reporters have been trying to convince Sanders to leave the race for months, but Alcindor is the first to suggest that he might be sexist for continuing to fight (despite the fact that Sanders and his supporters view the primary process as “rigged” by Democratic leaders to guarantee Clinton’s selection). (Indeed, many supporters are irate that in a rare exchange with reporters this week, not a single reporter asked about the highly critical email report but instead asked about how historic her run for the White House is).
The question was loaded, fairly hostile, and facially ridiculous: “What do you say to women that say you staying in the race is sexist because it could get in the way of what could be the first female president?” Sanders could have asked Alcindor if Clinton running against him meant that she is anti-Semitic. Instead, he asked the question that most of us had in our minds: “Is that a serious question?” and noted that it would mean that any man running against Clinton would be by definition sexist. Alcindor persisted in suggesting that fighting to the convention could be viewed as sexist despite the obvious and significant policy differences between Sanders and Clinton: “My point is that if she has more delegates than you tomorrow, for you to stay in the race, is it sexist?”
The tendency to define any criticism or opposition to Clinton as sexist is becoming a parody of the campaign. There are ample reasons to oppose Clinton, particularly for Sanders who has faced what many view as an unfair campaign by DNC and democratic insiders. The question also reinforced the view of many that the mainstream media is closely allied with Clinton in seeking to eliminate or marginalize Sanders. Most importantly, Sanders has major disagreements with Clinton on her use of corporate money and changes in positions on issues ranging from trade deals to military interventions. Finally, with scandals swirling around Clinton from the emails to the Clinton Foundation, it might be viewed as prudent to continue the fight to the convention to maximize the Sanders delegate count to avoid a dark horse candidates like Joe Biden in a convention switch. None of those reasons are in the slightest sexist.