CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was left scrambling on Tuesday night when the network displayed the wrong winner of the Democratic presidential primary in Mississippi.
Joe Biden was projected to easily win the state’s support, but the CNN video team put up a graphic on the studio’s big screen declaring victory for Bernie Sanders. The Independent Vermont senator was shown smiling beside a big yellow check mark.
“We have our first projection of the night, Bernie Sanders …” Blitzer said, before noticing what was on the screen. “Not, not, not happening right now. Joe Biden, Joe Biden, uh, is the winner of Mississippi primary. Joe Biden carries Mississippi.”
Blitzer tried to move on without explicitly acknowledging the mistake even as technical difficulties continued. The screen went black, then showed a graphic declaring Biden the winner, then went black again.
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“There we have it right, oh, can you see it?” Blitzer said. “Maybe you can’t see it. We’ll fix that technical problem. But the most important thing is this, Joe Biden is the winner, Joe Biden is the winner in Mississippi. It’s another Southern state that goes for the former vice president of the United States.”
Many Biden supporters complained the mix-up caused them to briefly panic given that their candidate was expected to dominate Democratic voting across the South.
I swear @CNN gave me a heart attack for a second when they flashed a graphic stating Sanders won Mississippi…thankfully the network came back to reality in a nanosecond #PrimaryElection #MississippiPrimary pic.twitter.com/8kXTsIdzMC
— Alfonso Robinson (@ctblogger) March 11, 2020
Some Sanders supporters also expressed dismay that CNN had given them false hope followed by a harsh reality check.
Thanks for the fucking heart attack CNN!!! Thought Bernie Sanders won the Mississippi primary for the best second of my life
— joho (@MandyMaddey) March 11, 2020
A number of commenters saw a conspiracy at work.
LOOK AT CNN RIGGING THE ELECTION AGAINST BERNIE SANDERS! HE WON MISSISSIPPI AND WOLF JUST TAKES IT AWAY. #DEMEXIT pic.twitter.com/wMv9q9ik3x
— Dawn Summers (@FakeDawnSummers) March 11, 2020
Meanwhile, conservatives seized the opportunity to mock CNN.
*Everything is fine*
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 11, 2020
Nor did they spare grieving “Bernie bros.” Former Fusion reporter Cassandra Fairbanks compared CNN’s error to Steve Harvey infamously crowning the wrong Miss Universe as the host of the 2015 beauty pageant.
This is like when the beauty pageant host announced the wrong winner — except they just crushed all the bernie bros in the whole nation instead of one person. pic.twitter.com/sTspFsX1lx
— Cassandra Fairbanks ?⏳ (@CassandraRules) March 11, 2020
CNN and Mississippi were just the beginning of Bernie Sanders supporters woes
The news only got worse for Sanders and his supporters as Tuesday’s results continued to roll in. Biden appeared to have won at least four of the six states that went to the polls to decide which candidate the Democrats would put forward to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November.
In addition to Mississippi, Biden was named the winner of Missouri, Idaho and Michigan, the biggest prize of the night. The former vice president received overwhelming support from African-Americans and a strong advantage with suburban and rural white voters, putting him in a commanding position in the race.
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Sanders, 78, scored a victory in North Dakota, while the last state, Washington, remained too close to call on Wednesday morning, according to exit polls by Edison Research.
In a victory speech Tuesday night in Philadelphia, Biden called for party unity and made an appeal to Sanders supporters.
“We share a common goal, and together we are going to defeat Donald Trump,” he said, thanking Sanders and his supporters for their energy and passion.
Sanders, who returned home to Vermont on Tuesday night, did not make a public statement after his losses, a departure from his usual practice on primary nights.