Top Sanders supporter falls for Fox ploy to divide Bernie and Hillary

Prominent Bernie Sanders supporter Shaun King (who is openly campaigning for Sanders) just used Facebook to promote a conspiracy theory concocted by Fox News ultra-conservative commentator, and comedian, Dennis Miller.

According to Miller — in a comment posted on Facebook, which King then shared approvingly with his followers — Bernie Sanders would be winning the Democratic nomination right now if it weren’t for “the rigged [superdelegate] game.”

The not-terribly-objective Miller recommends that Bernie Sanders’ supporters “don’t take it,” and “rise up.”

Lest anyone think that Dennis Miller is recommending this out of his great love for progressive ideals, Miller has previously claimed that Democrats created the “birther” lie, and that President Obama “has Islamic sympathies.” Miller also suggested that the protester who was sucker-punched at Donald Trump’s recent rally shared some of the blame for getting hit in the face. That’s who Dennis Miller is. (He went off the rails about 15 years ago.)

Here’s what King and Miller posted on Facebook:

by default 2016-03-17 at 7.47.37 PM

Let’s put aside the fact that Sanders announced last night on Rachel Maddow’s show that if he can’t win the popular vote, he’s going to try to take Hillary’s superdelegates in order to secure the nomination anyway. It will be interesting to see if Shaun King now criticizes Sanders’ effort to rig the election by superdelegate.

A few other points:

1. Superdelegates are not Bernie Sanders’ biggest problem right now — it’s regular “pledged” delegates.

Bernie Sanders would not be winning if the game weren’t “rigged.” Hillary Clinton is not ahead in this race because of the superdelegates. She is ahead because she’s won more states than Sanders has, and thus has more pledged delegates than Sanders has — those are the delegates you win in the state-by-state electoral battles.

Nate Silver, who most people on the left respect as an accurate and objective election statistician, wrote the other night that superdeleates are the least of Bernie Sanders’ worries right now:

I’m intrigued by the parallels to the 2008 campaign perhaps because it’s where FiveThirtyEight cut its teeth. I spent a lot of time in the spring of 2008 arguing that Obama’s lead in elected delegates would be hard for Clinton to overcome. But Clinton’s lead over Sanders is much larger than Obama’s was over Clinton at a comparable stage of the race. At the end of February 2008, after a favorable run of states for Obama, he led Clinton by approximately 100 elected delegates. Clinton’s lead is much larger this year. Clinton entered Tuesday’s contests ahead of Sanders by approximately 220 elected delegates. But she’ll net approximately 70 delegates from Florida, 20 from Ohio, 15 from North Carolina and a handful from Illinois and Missouri. That will expand her advantage to something like 325 elected delegates.

Sanders will need to win about 58 percent of the remaining 2,000 or so elected delegates to tie Clinton. Since the Democrats allot delegates proportionally, that means he’d need to win about 58 percent of the vote in the average remaining state to Clinton’s 42 percent, meaning he’d need to beat Clinton by around 16 points the rest of the way. Sanders would also have to overcome Clinton’s huge lead in superdelegates, although that’s probably the least of his worries.

….Sanders can’t afford to merely come close in [the upcoming primary] states, as he did on Tuesday. Nor would narrow wins suffice. He needs to win these states going away to make up for his delegate disadvantage.

There’s no particular reason to expect he will do so.

So the reason people are saying that Sanders is unlikely to win the nomination is because it is unlikely he can win enough pledged delegates at the ballot box. Superdelegates simply aren’t the problem, and the game is not rigged.

2. Superdelegates were already part of the package when Sanders decided to run in the Democratic primary.

Our electoral system is a bit insane. We all know it. From elected delegates to pledged delegates, superdelegates, the electoral college, and hanging chads, there has got to be a better way for a democratic people to elect their political leadership. One such example is the whole delegate system each party uses to pick its presidential candidate.

But, that system was already in place when Bernie Sanders, who is not a Democrat, decided to run in the Democratic primary. The rules were not “rigged” to stop Sanders. They were set in place long before anyone thought Sanders was going to run. And until now, everyone who chose to run as a Democrat, has accepted those rules as part of the admission price for running as a Democrat.

So feel free to not like primary rules. Hell, I don’t like them. But let’s not pretend that they’re something new, or something that was set up with the express purpose of thwarting Bernie Sanders. And, as Nate noted above, the superdelegates are not Bernie Sanders’ biggest problem right now — his problem is that he is simply not winning enough states by a wide enough margin.

3. No one outside of Fox News should be quoting Fox News.

oreilly-dennis-millerDennis Miller did not write what he wrote out of the goodness of his heart. He wrote it because he realizes that with Donald Trump a hair’s breadth away from winning the GOP nomination, the Republicans are in serious trouble. They’re heading, at best, to a brokered convention — and at worst, to a general election with a racist, sexist, unhinged warmongering homophobe at their helm. They are terrified about how many House and Senate races Trump will take down with him. And the only thing that’s going to save the GOP is ensuring that Sanders’ and Clinton’s supporters hate each other enough to refuse to endorse the other in the general election.

That’s why Dennis Miller wrote what he wrote. It wasn’t just factually incorrect. It was intentionally inflammatory.

There’s been concern for a while over the Republicans using “fake grassroots (aka “sock puppets”) to deluge the Internet with phony commenters promoting paid messaging. Many of us were concerned that the Republicans will do this — and likely already are — to secretly sow discord between those who are “with her” and those “feeling the Bern.”

But no one thought a leading progressive voice would willingly promote the debunked conspiracy theory of an Obama-hating Fox News propagandist.

Shaun King has done a lot to shine a light on a large number of underreported issues. This, however, is not his finest hour.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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