On Wednesday, Twitter exploded with resentment over an interview Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane, had given to RT America's Ed Schultz.
"Bernie Sanders' wife went on Russian TV to explain why open primaries — like the SC Democratic primary on Saturday — are more "democratic" because they allow Republicans to vote for who the Democratic nominee should be. Sorry, Jane – this is just wrong!" tweeted Jon Cooper, the chair of the Democratic Coalition.
Bernie Sanders’ wife went on Russian TV to explain why open primaries — like the SC Democratic primary on Saturday — are more “democratic” because they allow REPUBLICANS to vote for who the Democratic nominee should be. Sorry, Jane — THIS IS JUST WRONG! 😡pic.twitter.com/wnAkDSmekf— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) February 26, 2020
However, it is not the topic of the discussion that prompted the ire of some American users, but the very fact that Jane Sanders had talked to the broadcaster.
"I'm sorry, but no Democratic candidate nor any of their surrogates or family members should be anywhere close to Russian TV", a user named Santiago Mayer writes.
The Twitter storm came on the heels of the 21 February reports alleging Russia's interference in the US 2020 presidential race with the supposed aim of boosting Bernie Sanders' election campaign. Sanders, who has emerged as the Democratic frontrunner rushed to condemn the rumoured "interference". Back in 2016, the Vermont senator also subjected Russia to criticism for its alleged meddling in the American election cycle, something that Moscow has vehemently denied.
Despite the denunciation of the non-confirmed Russian effort, Sanders has come into the crosshairs of Twitter users: "Bernie's wife went on Russian TV even as Bernie knew he was receiving Russian help, and even as he denied that he was receiving Russian help", a social media platform user named Rev Magdalen tweeted.
Bernie's wife went on Russian TV even as Bernie knew he was receiving Russian help, and even as he DENIED that he was receiving Russian help, to the point that his bros harassed and abused anyone mentioning that fact. Bernie is not our friend.— 🆘Rev Magdalen |This Machine Dismantles Patriarchy (@revmagdalen) February 26, 2020
However, it is not the first time that Sanders has given an interview to RT America.
On 5 October 2016, Bernie Sanders, who was interviewed by RT's Ed Schultz after a rally for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, said that he would keep his promise to throw his weight behind Hillary, the then-Democratic nominee: "We cannot elect a president with a cornerstone of his campaign based on bigotry", the senator said referring to Trump and added: "I'm going to do my best to make sure Hillary Clinton is elected president".
Following the resounding defeat of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party started pedalling the "Russia election meddling" story which prompted American lawmakers to force RT America, a US-based television channel and part of the RT global multilingual television news network, to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). However, the similar US-based, state-owned broadcasters like BBC America or Al Jazeera English have not been obliged to do the same.
Ed Schultz, who interviewed Bernie and Jane Sanders, was an American television and radio host who had worked on MSNBC from 2009 to 2015 and joined RT America in January 2016. After Schultz's passing away at his home in Washington, DC on 5 July 2018, Sanders lauded the legendary host as "a passionate defender of American workers, who strongly supported trade policies that work for all of us not just large corporations" on Facebook.