MSNBC's Chuck Todd under fire for suggesting Sanders supporters are 'digital brown shirt brigade'

MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd is facing backlash on Monday night for suggesting that supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are part of a "digital brown shirt brigade."

During a panel discussion on Sanders' surge ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Todd cited a column critical of Sanders' online support.

"I want to bring up something that Jonathan Last put in The Bulwark today," Todd began. "Here's what he says, 'No other candidate has anything like this digital brown shirt brigade. I mean, except for Donald Trump. The question that no one is asking is this; what if you can't win the presidency without an online mob? What if we now live in a world having a bullying, agro-social media running around, hobbling everyone who sticks their head up is either an important ingredient for or a critical marker of success?'"

He continued, "I know that everybody's freaking out about this, but you saw the MAGA rally that's preparing around here. There are people coming from three or four states on that. That's real -- and this is like Bernie."

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That sparked major backlash on social media, with the hashtag #firechucktodd trending on Twitter.

Sanders' national press secretary, Briahna Gray, blasted the Nazi-inspired comparison.

"'Digital brown shirt brigade.' That's how our Jewish candidate's supporters are being described on the MSM. The contempt shown for ordinary people is really something," Gray tweeted.

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Sanders speechwriter David Sirota chided Todd's remarks, mocking how the media calls for "civility and decency" and compared insult to CNN's "swarm" description of Sanders voters.

Others called on him to apologize and even resign for sharing such provocative commentary.

Todd faced similar blowback in December insulting Trump voters by suggesting they "want to be lied to" since they believe in "fairy tales" -- like Noah's Ark.

On a special installment of "Meet the Press," Todd spent much of the show focused on the spread of "misinformation" in the media landscape. But, during a panel discussion, he pointed to a letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald Leader from January 2019, something Todd thought was a "fascinating attempt" to explain why so many Americans support President Trump.

The letter read, "[W]hy do people support Trump? It's because people have been trained from childhood to believe in fairy tales. ... This set their minds up to accept things that make them feel good. ... The more fairy tales and lies he tells the better they feel. ... Show me a person who believes in Noah's ark and I will show you a Trump voter."

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"This gets at something, Dean, that my executive producer likes to say, 'Hey, voters want to be lied to sometimes.' They don't always love being told hard truths," Todd told New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet.

"I'm not quite sure I buy that," Baquet immediately responded. "I'm not convinced that people want to be lied to. I think people want to be comforted, and I think bad politicians sometimes say comforting things to them."