So, this is interesting. I've mentioned before my suspicion that the right-wing campaign playbook simply calls for making left-wing politicians 'unlikeable'. Here's Hillary Clinton claiming (falsely) that 'nobody likes Bernie Sanders'. Another ingredient in the toxic brew is the allegation that Sanders' entourage is misogynist.
All this is very reminiscent of what was done to Corbyn (and, I think, Livingstone and Miliband before him). Firstly, 'liking'. While, obviously, elected politicians ought to be popular, it's about as far from political debate as anything ever gets. Needless to say, there's abundant evidence that Sanders is pretty popular. However, there's also no doubt that he's being targeted on anti-social media as we post. I think this is a good article by John Harris:
It hardly absolves Labour of its serial failures, but this formula was right at the heart of the Tory win in December: towards the end of the election, it was revealed that 88% of Conservative advertisements published on Facebook over a four-day period contained claims deemed to be misleading by Full Fact, a fact-checking organisation used by Facebook itself (the figure for Labour material was 7%).
... and that's only the aspect of the messaging that related to some kind of checkable content. Packaged in with the lies will no doubt have been more or less subtle (depending on the profile they had of the voter revealed by their F******* presence, from illegally-acquired data) messaging on influencing people via their likes and dislikes, culminating in seeding dislike of certain politicians.
Also interesting is the usual strategy of 'accuse someone of what you're guilty of yourself'. In Clinton's case, that's denying another's likeability, a measure on which Clinton scores very low herself, as she simply has very little political charisma, apparently in stark contrast to her husband, as well as claiming that Sanders is a 'career politician', which she very obviously is herself (and there is no doubt whatsoever that Sanders is driven by genuine convictions about public service). Then you have the crucial ingredient of attacking someone who pursues ethical policies like Sanders over alleged discrimination. It doesn't seem to matter too much whether you attack the person directly or people associated with him--it was toxic for Corbyn and will quite probably be toxic for Sanders, too. It's also very reminiscent of Blair's interventions over the last few months. I do hope that Sanders' campaign find effective ways of countering this, or they're in for losing.