Bernie Sanders surrogate says his ‘corporate whore’ comment was ‘taken out of context’

Health care activist Dr. Paul Song ignited a firestorm with a comment he made about “corporate Democratic whores” at a presidential campaign rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Wednesday evening. Song’s remark drew an immediate rebuke from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and was denounced by Sanders. In a Facebook post, Song apologized and claimed he was misunderstood.

“Unfortunately, my words have been taken out of context and I have been accused of calling Secretary Clinton a whore. I have tremendous respect for Secretary Clinton and have avoided saying anything personal about her or President Clinton during this entire campaign. Nonetheless, I want to apologize to Secretary Clinton and anyone else who was offended by this. I will also avoid using this term from now on,” Song wrote.

Song made the statement at a massive rally for Sanders in New York City’s Washington Square Park, where he spoke before the candidate.

“I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for all will never happen if we have a president who never aspires for something greater than the status quo. Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma,” Song said.


Dr. Paul Song: “I have been accused of calling Secretary Clinton a whore.” (Photo: Facebook)

On Thursday morning, the Clinton campaign’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri tweeted that the remark was “very distressing language to say the least” and urged Sanders to “disavow” it. Sanders subsequently tweeted: “Dr. Song’s comment was inappropriate and insensitive. There’s no room for language like that in our political discourse,” he wrote.

Song apologized on Twitter shortly after the rally on Wednesday night.

“I am very sorry for using the term ‘whore’ to refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us. It was insensitive,” he wrote.

In his Facebook post, Song expanded on this explanation.

“This evening I was honored to speak at the Bernie Sanders rally in NYC. I want to be clear that I did not vet my comments with the Sanders’ campaign prior to my speech in which I referred to several members of congress, who put the interests of Big Pharma and the private insurance industry ahead of their constituents as ‘corporate whores’ as defined below,” Song wrote. “I said this within the context of the obscene amount of money our legislators received in the run up to the Affordable Care Act and how it resulted in no public option, no rate regulation, and no ability to negotiate drug prices.”

The post included a link to a definition of the term “corporate whore,” describing it as a “person who will sell their soul” for money.

Song is a radiation oncologist and progressive activist. His wife is journalist Lisa Ling. Her sister, Laura Ling, was imprisoned in North Korea in 2009. Hillary Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton, negotiated for Laura’s release.

In an online video posted last month, Song explained why he is supporting Sanders even though President Clinton helped his family. Though he expressed “tremendous respect” for Hillary, Song said she is “extremely wrong” on health care. Unlike Sanders, she does not support a universal health care plan.

“I have a lot of dear friends of mine who are supporting Hillary Clinton. My family owe a lot of gratitude to the Clintons. … After all, President Clinton was the one who got my sister-in-law out of captivity. … They’ve been nothing but gracious to us. But I’ve always said that while they were very helpful to my family, I would like to support a candidate that could support every family in the United States,” Song said.

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders disavows ‘Democratic whores’ comment as ‘insensitive’