As the Sanders campaign shifts its focus toward this week’s Nevada caucuses following their victory in New Hampshire, many of their supporters have expressed frustration about how the New Hampshire results were reported.
Sanders carried the Granite State by approximately 4,000 votes, but reporting of the results left supporters feeling as though Sanders’ victory was treated as an afterthought of the night.
Trip Gabriel, a journalist with the New York Times, dismissed Sanders’ victory as narrower than expected and called the expectation-defying performances of runners-up Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar the story of the night.
“No. 3 story (in retrospect should have been No. 1): Sanders emerges as a relatively weak front runner with the center-left majority fractured, Dems a long way from uniting against Trump,” Gabriel tweeted.
The Sanders campaign has complained about mainstream media outlets ignoring his success and popularity since his 2016 run and believe that this cycle is no different. #BernieBlackout has become popular among Sanders supporters on Twitter when sharing media clips that they find to be dismissive of their candidate.
An MSNBC segment analyzing results on the night of the New Hampshire primary drew criticism after a contributor said that Mike Bloomberg may have been the true winner of the night.
“The big winner last night could have been Mayor Bloomberg,” said Jim Messina, former White House deputy chief of staff and Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager.
Sanders’ online supporters were not the only ones to quickly jump on Messina and MSNBC for being biased against the Vermont senator. The Huffington Post published an article highlighting Messina’s comment as just one of the most recent examples of cable news refusing to declare Sanders victorious.
Some pundits concluded that moderates won New Hampshire because Buttigieg, Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden won a larger share of the vote than Sanders and Warren. And the Los Angeles Times published an editorial that said Sanders is not a strong frontrunner because he underperformed in New Hampshire and because he does not have widespread party support.
Sanders supporters responded with a recent Morning Consult poll which showed that Sanders has the highest net favorability among Democratic primary voters, suggesting that his lack of widespread support comes from a crowded field rather than him being a disliked candidate.
The data also weakens the argument that Sanders did not win by a large enough margin. The proponents of that argument often point to how his performance in New Hampshire paled in comparison to the 2016 election and claim that makes him a weak candidate. That conclusion ignores the distinction that in 2016, Sanders only had to contest the primary with eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as opposed to the larger field of seven candidates this time around.
Sanders supporters had already been critical of the media the day before New Hampshire after MSNBC host Chuck Todd cited a quote on Meet the Press comparing them to Nazi “brownshirts” who used intimidation tactics against those with dissenting views. Users tweeted #FireChuckTodd and lambasted Todd for comparing the Jewish candidate’s supporters to Nazis.
Another MSNBC veteran, Chris Matthews, faced similar pushback the week before when he questioned American “socialists” and questioned whether or not Sanders would like to see people executed in Central Park.
One New Hampshire voter was interviewed by MSNBC in the days leading up to the contest and was asked who she was supporting. In her answer, she condemned the network’s coverage of her candidate.
“I want to say that the reason I went for Bernie is because of MSNBC,” the woman said in a Manchester restaurant. “I think it is completely cynical to say that [Sanders] lost 50 percent of his vote from  when there were two candidates. Now there are multiple, wonderful candidates who are great candidates who would be great presidents we can all get behind,” she said.
“The kind of ‘stop Bernie cynicism’ that I heard from a number of people — I watch MSNBC constantly, that I heard from a number of commentators … made me angry, and I said, ‘OK, Bernie’s got my vote,'” she concluded.