Bernie Sanders Gets Snippy with Reporter for Asking About Anti-American Chants at 1985 Rally


Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders repeatedly questioned the “understanding” of a reporter who asked him if he remembered hearing anti-American chants at a 1985 rally in Nicaragua, which Sanders attended.

Sanders requested the interview with New York Times reporter Sydney Ember after Ember’s article about Sanders’ foreign policy activism in the 80s was published. Sanders was a vocal and active opponent of the United States’ backing of the “Contra” rebels against the Sandinista government.

One focus of Embers’ interview was reporting that anti-American chants like “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die” broke out during a rally that Sanders attended. Ember tried to nail down whether Sanders remembered hearing the chants, and remaining at the rally in spite of them. Sanders impatiently questioned the reporter’s understanding of the issues, before finally denying he remembered the chants:

Q. In the top of our story, we talk about the rally you attended in Managua and a wire report at the time said that there were anti-American chants from the crowd.

The United States at that time — I don’t know how much you know about this — was actively supporting the Contras to overthrow the government. So that there’s anti-American sentiment? I remember that, I remember that event very clearly.

You do recall hearing those chants? I think the wire report has them saying, “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.”

They were fighting against American —— Huh huh —— yes, what is your point?

I wanted to ——

Are you shocked to learn that there was anti-American sentiment?

My point was I wanted to know if you had heard that.

I don’t remember, no. Of course there was anti-American sentiment there. This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war.

Do you think if you had heard that directly, you would have stayed at the rally?

I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.

Do you believe you had an accurate view of President Ortega at the time? I’m wondering if you’re ——

This was not about Ortega. Do you understand? I don’t know if you do or not. Do you know that the United States overthrew the government of Chile way back? Do you happen to know that? Do you? I’m asking you a simple question.

Sanders’ performance in the interview drew Twitter criticism for his treatment of the reporter from people like feminist author Jill Filipovic:

But Sanders also had his defenders, who bristled at the comparison to Trump, and objected to Ember’s line of questioning:

Watch the interview that Sandes gave after returning from his trip to Nicaragua above, via CCTV.

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