Liberal think tank accuses Bernie Sanders of trying to 'muzzle' journalists

A liberal think tank said Sunday that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE (I-Vt.) is trying to "muzzle" its journalists after the 2020 presidential candidate said the group was "using its resources to smear" him and other Democratic candidates.

"The Center for American Progress is a research institution focused on ideas and policy. ThinkProgress is part of CAP Action: It is editorially independent of both CAP and CAP Action and has been for years. We do not suggest, edit, approve or see their stories before publishing. And, in this particular instance, no one at CAP or CAP Action knew about this article or video’s existence before publication," the Center for American Progress (CAP) said in a statement.

"Indeed, ThinkProgress publishes articles with which we disagree. We cannot and will not muzzle ThinkProgress, an editorially independent journalistic enterprise, and we believe it’s wrong for any political leader to demand it do so."

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Sanders wrote in a letter to CAP on Saturday that the group has unfairly criticized him, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro is behind in the polls, but he's finding a niche Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D-N.J.).

“I and other Democratic candidates are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other," he wrote.

In the letter Sanders said that the group recently published an article on ThinkProgress that criticized him "for my appearance and for the income I earned from writing a book."

"Then, a day later, you published a video that dishonestly attacked me for hypocrisy in my effort to address income inequality in America," he said.

He added that the group ”unfairly targeted” Warren in 2017 and 2018 as well as Booker earlier this year for teaming with Sanders on a prescription drug bill.

“I will be informing my grassroots supporters of the foregoing concerns that I have about the role CAP is playing. Should your actions evolve in the coming months, I am happy to reconsider what kind of partnership we can have," Sanders wrote.

Sanders's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on CAP's response to his letter.