Third Place is Better Than First

Anti-Bernie Sanders hysteria is at a fever pitch. Corporate media types are bending over backward looking to denigrate the Vermont senator’s strong polling numbers in New Hampshire and beyond. Some make electability arguments. Others, like Chris Matthews, voice concern about imagined Central Park executions.

But some commenters are making arguments even more ridiculous than that. Like saying taking a primary’s bronze medal is preferable to taking the gold. See below.

That’s MSNBC contributor (and former 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign spokesperson) Adrienne Elrod “almost arguing” that Amy Klobuchar finishing in third place in the New Hampshire primary would be “stronger” than Sanders finishing first.

The take is beyond parody. Let’s get something straight: finishing first is the best thing you can do in a primary. That’s why it’s called “winning the primary.” It shows you garnered more votes and will receive more delegates. Saying that anything is more significant than winning is plain lunacy.

But this take isn’t just trying to diminish Sanders’ likely first- or second-place finish in New Hampshire. It’s an attempt to ignore it completely. Elrod says she’s looking for “that key third place finish” in New Hampshire, which is as revealing. She and her fellow MSNBC pundits are desperate for any moderate to challenge Sanders going forward. Even the most generous interpretation of Elrod’s take—that finishing in the top three would be huge for Klobuchar—is obfuscated by literally everything else she says.

Hair-brained anti-Sanders takes are becoming MSNBC’s bread and butter. Just last night, Meet The Press host Chuck Todd referred to Sanders’ online supporters as his “brownshirt brigade,” a direct reference to Nazi paramilitary. It’s all a part of portraying Sanders as unelectable and his supporters as unhinged Twitter thugs. But it feels like people are starting to get wise to the rabid Bernie Bro narrative—or at least mining it for laughs.

The desperation almost makes you feel bad for cable news pundits. Their carefully ordered world of political possibilities crumbled in 2016 and is in danger of crumbling again now.

You can almost see the strain of the mental gymnastics on Elrod’s face as she tries to make her absurd opinion sound reasonable. But as brutal as it was, there are countless more bad anti-Bernie takes to come.