Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill campaign says ‘intern’ who filmed campaign had access to voter data McConnell defends Trump-backed lawsuit against ObamaCare McCaskill calls on GOP opponent to appoint special prosecutor to look into undercover video MORE is accusing the media of treating Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBooker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds The Democratic Donald Trump is coming Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' MORE with kid gloves during the first few months of his presidential campaign to bolster the narrative that he’s mounting a strong challenge to Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE.


“The media is giving Bernie a pass right now, I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he is a socialist,” she said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to the fact that Sanders (I-Vt.) regularly identifies as a Democratic socialist.

“I think everybody wants a fight and they are not giving the same scrutiny to Bernie Sanders that they are giving to certainly Hillary Clinton and the other candidates.

McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of Clinton’s first supporters ahead of her 2016 bid, added that Sanders’s pitfalls will become “very clear” once the media starts treating him like a “serious candidate.” She added that journalists underestimate Clinton’s wide leads, which have her about 50 percentage points ahead of Sanders in national polls, and are putting too much stock into strong attendance at his political rallies.

“Any other candidate that had the numbers that Hillary Clinton had right now would be talked about as absolutely untouchable, but all of a sudden, ‘Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,’ ” she said.

“It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”

Sanders is in the midst of an attempt to outflank Clinton on the left with a largely populist economic platform. He’s drawn within 12 percentage points in some polls in New Hampshire and continues to gain steam, but he’s still well behind Clinton.

McCaskill believes Sanders’s liberal message puts him too far away from the center to win a general election, specifically pointing out his views on expanding entitlements and against President Obama’s signature trade deal.

Sanders embraced most of those characterizations in a Thursday interview, but pushed back against the idea that the media doesn’t regularly refer to him as a Democratic socialist.

“Do I believe in a Medicare for all single-payer system? Absolutely. Do I believe in opposition to Sen. McCaskill that we need trade policies that are fair to the American worker and not just benefit CEOs of large corporations? I plead guilty,” he said on Bloomberg’s "With All Due Respect." 

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a colleague has attacked, me. You’d have to ask Sen. McCaskill why.”

This story was updated at 3:55 p.m.