A strange Twitter battle is developing over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) and his town hall event that aired on CNN on Monday night, in which the network has been accused of secretly loading up the audience with people who work for various centrist Democrat entities, according to an article in Paste. What’s gotten even weirder about the story is that the network has followed up with the reporter who broke the story and essentially admitted that they deliberately didn’t disclose political affiliations of the question-asking members of the audience.
After a young woman asked Sen. Sanders a question about the sexual harassment that occurred on his campaign in 2016 and what systems he and his team have in place now to prevent it happening again, a sharp-eyed Twitter user noticed that this same woman works as an intern at one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington D.C., Cassidy & Associates.
Which perhaps isn’t all that strange considering the event took place in Maryland. Nor is it all that odd that the woman was listed only as a student at American University on CNN, as internships are sometimes not really considered occupations, even in D.C. where there is immense pressure for ambitious students to land a prestigious internship.
However, when Paste started digging into some of the other names of town hall participants scrolling across CNN, they found some interesting omissions.
Tara Ebersole was listed as a “former biology professor” although her LinkedIn page currently lists here as “Chair, Baltimore County Democratic Party,” and her husband was part of Hillary Clinton’s leadership council in 2016 in Baltimore. She last worked as a biology professor nearly 30 years ago.
Abena McAllister was listed on CNN as “an active democrat” which, while true enough, is somewhat less than forthcoming when she is actually the Chair of the Charles County Democratic Central Committee.
Yunjung Seo was listed just as a student at George Washington despite the fact she also works for Katz Watson Group, a consulting and fundraising firm.
lol CNN's Bernie town hall took place in a town whose entire population was lobbyists, consultants, and literal Democratic committee chairshttps://t.co/XVB6Wn3HOY
— Matt Karp ???????????????? (@karpmj) February 26, 2019
Then it got even stranger on Twitter as the story began to circulate, and a number of Twitter users began accusing Bernie Sanders supporters of “doxing” the town hall participants by researching them and publishing their previously hidden Democratic Party and consulting firm affiliations.
You know why so many people didn't want Bernie to run again in 2020? Because of the toxicity of many of his supporters. Case in point: Berners are doxxing a woman of color because she asked Sanders a question about sexual harassment at a CNN Town Hall.
— Marcus, the Proud and Grateful Democrat (@nirvanafanclub) February 26, 2019
The back and forth continues, with people from the Sanders camp pointing out that you can’t really “dox” someone whose name has already been published on CNN by sharing that person’s public LinkedIn occupation.
In the end, CNN finally contacted Paste’s reporter and admitted that it could have been more forthcoming.
“Though we said at the beginning of the Town Hall that the audience was made up of Democrats and Independents, we should have more fully identified any political affiliations,” reads a CNN statement.