It warms my heart to see this. They are both authentic people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, and it’s clear from these images how strong and resilient their friendship remains. Warren and Sanders marching arm in arm to celebrate Martin Luther King’s Day reminds us how progressive politics should be.
They are both moving forward and refusing to talk any more about the controversy that the media and Twitter trollbots ginned up to pit them against each other. We should follow their example.
Fortunately Sanders and Warren seem to now be working together to repair the disunity the media, trolls, and anti-progressives are trying to sow between them. Both are refusing to talk any more about the controversy, and instructing their staffers to do the same:
They were even joking about it!
Three members of the Sanders campaign also just told the intercept that Sanders had researched whether it would be legal to have Elizabeth Warren be both his Vice-President and his Secretary of the Treasury simultaneously, which seems to be intended to show the high regard he has for her (although it made me LOL at how fan-fiction-like the concept sounded—why not just have Warren take every other post in Sanders’ cabinet simultaneously as well while they’re at it? LOL!), but provided in a low-key unofficial way by anonymous staffers to avoid sounding presumptuous and further fanning the flames of the progressive disunity that neither Warren nor Sanders want.
It looks like the whole affair was created by the media to get clicks and ratings, and hurt progressives:
NOT LONG AFTER meeting with Sanders at the end of 2018 to discuss her impending presidential run, Warren hosted an off-the-record dinner with a number of journalists, according to sources with knowledge of it. At the dinner, Warren was asked about her meeting with Sanders, and in the course of the discussion, she relayed that Sanders had warned that he didn’t believe a woman could beat Trump in 2020. Different reporters recalled the comments differently, a mirror image of the dispute between Warren and Sanders over exactly what Sanders said — with Warren saying that Sanders argued a woman couldn’t beat Trump, while Sanders said that he only said Trump would weaponize misogyny against a woman, not that it would work. (The Intercept was not at the dinner. Most politicians hold informal, off-record dinners or meetings with journalists, though it’s not something Sanders is known to do. Occasionally details from those meetings leak, but it’s rare.)
From there, the piece of news entered the journalistic bloodstream, circulating among reporters as gossip but not finding its way into print. On Monday, it finally did, with CNN’s M.J. Lee reporting that according to four sources — described as “two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting” — Sanders had told Warren, according to CNN’s paraphrasing, that “he did not believe a woman could win.”
It was widely assumed in the immediate aftermath of the story that Warren’s campaign had planted the story. Indeed, CNN anchor Erin Burnett said as much on air. But Burnett was merely making an assumption, and had no inside knowledge of the sources, two CNN sources told The Intercept.
On Monday, Warren told The Intercept that her campaign did not intentionally plant the CNN story. That Warren told a number of journalists about the meeting a year ago adds context to that statement. If Warren had only told her closest advisers about the meeting, then it would be logical to assume that her campaign dictated the timing of the story, dropping it just ahead of a debate, and just weeks before the primary, to undercut Sanders. But since Warren told the story more broadly to a group of journalists, CNN’s sources could have come from outside the campaign. The revelation does not rule out the possibility that someone in her campaign was a source, but it opens up other possibilities, as well.
In chat groups and in private conversations with people outside the campaign, Warren aides have insisted that they were not the source of the leak, and only learned about it in the midst of debate prep, contributing to the delayed response.
Trollbots then amplified the controversy on Twitter:
Often, a news story or hashtag will originate with a specific website or person, and then the bots serve almost as middlemen in helping it take off and make it look like a lot of people are talking about it right away, explained Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University. So, for example, a hashtag starts with a specific user, and then the bots start to spread it, and then more actual people pick up on it. Twitter’s trending algorithm then picks up on that and spreads it even further.
“The bots work as amplifiers,” said Menczer, who is also the creator of Hoaxy, a tool that tracks how information spreads on social media. “They’re used to manipulate the platform so that more humans will talk about [a topic]. By the time something goes viral or goes trending, a lot of humans are probably talking about it.”….
Online battles like these have ramifications in real life: In this case, it makes both Warren and Sanders supporters feel like their conflict is worse than it may actually be. “They’re being told both implicitly and explicitly that they’re in a fight with each other,” Phillips said. “When you’re told that you’re in a fight, and you’re told that you’re mad at the other side, it’s really easy to fall into that. It’s life imitating the hashtag, basically.”
This is hardly the first time this has happened this election cycle. After the second round of Democratic debates in July, the #KamalaHarrisDestroyed hashtag caused a similar dustup between supporters of Kamala Harris and of Tulsi Gabbard. Conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams started the hashtag, and as the Wall Street Journal reported, a lot of accounts with “questionable characteristics” — probably bots — shared it. People on Twitter started to see it spreading, and then they started to share it because it struck a nerve with some of them. The bots are used to inject, feed, and amplify topics, narratives, and hashtags, but they wouldn’t work if they weren’t evoking a reaction in real people on Twitter.
Even Cenk Uyghur is realizing that this whole controversy was ginned up by anti-progressive media:
Warren and Sanders know that they fighting each other will hurt both of them. They are working to put this behind the stupid media-created controversy behind them and put the focus on the progressive policies they both support. We should follow their example.