MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd faced swift backlash Monday for approvingly quoting a right-wing columnist who described online supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is vying to become the first Jewish president in U.S. history, as a “digital brownshirt brigade.”
“Hey I want to bring up something that Jonathan Last put in The Bulwark today,” said Todd. “It was about how—and Ruth, we’ve all been on the receiving end of the Bernie online brigade—here’s what he says: He says ‘no other candidate has anything like this sort of digital brownshirt brigade. I mean, except for Donald Trump.'”
“I know everybody’s freaking out about his, but you saw the MAGA rally that’s prepared around here,” Todd continued. “There are people coming from three or four states on that, that’s real… This is like Bernie.”
Among the first to respond to Todd’s attack on Sanders supporters was Briahna Joy Gray, national press secretary for the Vermont senator’s 2020 presidential campaign.
“‘Digital brown shirt brigade.’ That’s how our Jewish candidate’s supporters are being described on the [mainstream media],” Gray tweeted. “The contempt shown for ordinary people is really something.”
— 29 U.S.C. § 157 (@OrganizingPower) February 10, 2020
Condemnation of Todd’s comments continued into Monday evening, with Sanders supporters voicing outrage that a corporate media pundit with such a massive platform would so casually liken supporters of the Vermont senator to Nazis.
“When Chuck Todd attacked us, including Jews like me with family erased by the Holocaust and pogroms, for being ‘brown shirts,’ it’s bad enough,” tweeted Rafael Shimunov, co-founder of advocacy group The Jewish Vote. “But the implication also is that Bernie Sanders, whose family was executed by Nazis, is Hitler.”
Shimunov demanded that Todd “apologize and resign for comparing the first major Jewish candidate for president, whose family was executed by Nazis, [to] Hitler.”
There’s always a tweet. @chucktodd apologize and resign for comparing the first major Jewish candidate for President, whose family was executed by Nazis, Hitler. And Jews like me supporting him, brown shirts. #ChuckToddResign https://t.co/u0lJpboTWe
— rafael (@rafaelshimunov) February 11, 2020
Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jen Perelman called Todd’s remarks “indefensible.”
“As a fellow Jew who’s aware half of Bernie’s family was murdered in the Holocuast, he knows better,” Perelman wrote on Twitter. “We’re not Nazis. God, the MSM makes me sick and we’re just getting started.”