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5 Feb, 2020 20:02

MSNBC panelist freaks out after Sanders surrogate calls Bloomberg an ‘oligarch,’ because it’s a ‘Russian’ term

MSNBC panelist freaks out after Sanders surrogate calls Bloomberg an ‘oligarch,’ because it’s a ‘Russian’ term

An outraged MSNBC panelist accused a surrogate for Bernie Sanders of “name-calling” after she dared to label billionaire and fellow presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg an “oligarch” for his ability to buy political influence.

During a discussion on money in politics, national co-chair for the Sanders campaign Nina Turner said Americans should be “ashamed” that “oligarchs” can buy their way into elections. Asked by host Chris Matthews to clarify if she believes Bloomberg is an oligarch, Turner didn’t mince words.

“He is. I mean, he skipped Iowa, he's not going to New Hampshire. He's buying his way into this race, period,” she said, adding that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had changed its rules to allow the former mayor of New York City to participate in debates. Pressed by Matthews to say whether she believed Bloomberg bought his way into the debates, too, Turner said he “absolutely” did and that it was a “stain on democracy.”

Turner’s comments did not go down well with fellow guest and editor at the Root Jason Johnson, who accused her of “name-calling” and argued that Bloomberg couldn’t possibly be an oligarch because the term is often associated with Russia.

“Oligarchy makes you think of some rich person who got their money off of oil in Russia and who is taking advantage of a broken and dysfunctional system,” Johnson declared.

He said the implications of calling Bloomberg an oligarch were “unfair and unreasonable” since he is just a run-of-the-mill American billionaire — not an evil Russian one. “Mike Bloomberg is just a rich guy. America is full of rich guys — and just because you're rich doesn't mean that you're an oligarch who abuses his power.”

Yet, plenty of Americans evidently did see Bloomberg’s entry to the presidential race (based on little more than deep pockets) as evidence that he was abusing his power and taking advantage of a broken system.

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“How the hell could any sane person not think he’s an oligarch?” one tweeter asked. “The dude literally owns a media empire. He’s absolutely an oligarch,” another said. Some decided to help Johnson out by posting the dictionary definition of an oligarch, which seems to fit the bill: “a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald also weighed in, tweeting that Americans have been “trained to believe” only the “bad countries” have oligarchs, while investigative reporter Lee Fang noted that Bloomberg had, in a mere two months, “spent more on a presidential campaign than anyone in US history.”

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