Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media


Bernie Sanders campaign is up against the oligarchy. And that oligarchy’s biggest and strongest arm are the corporate media outlets.

– Norman Solomon
Excerpted from “Despite Corporate Media’s 'War on Bernie,'
Sanders Rides Wave of Support into New Hampshire Primary

Democracy Now!
January 30, 2020

As the presidential campaign got underway last year, we watched the media lavish its affections on Beto O’Rourke for a while, and then Kamala Harris, briefly, and Elizabeth Warren for quite a while.

But, as it will, love waned.

Joe Biden became the new sure thing – experienced, solid and empathetic. Most of all, he possessed that ineffable quality: electability. But last week, after the Iowa caucuses, the attention shifted squarely to Pete Buttigieg, portrayed as a centrist savior, though it’s still debatable whether he actually won.

Then . . . the news media’s roving crush moved to Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. Her third-place finish in the New Hampshire Democratic primary became the story of the night.

Never, though, has mainstream media turned its loving eyes to the front-runner, Bernie Sanders. Quite the opposite.

– Margaret Sullivan
Excerpted from “The Media Keep Falling in Love
– With Anybody But Bernie Sanders

The Washington Post
February 13, 2020

After the New Hampshire results came in, political reporters and pundits put facts into linguistic pretzels, instead of just stating what the numbers did: That Sanders had won, taking the popular vote for two straight contests in a crowded field. Not all of it was pure ideological offense. New York Times politics reporter Jeremy Peters, tweeted: “Pete, after winning Iowa, is almost beating Bernie in a state Bernie won four years ago by 22 points. Under any normal standard of assessing the Democratic race, Pete would be called a frontrunner.” Likewise, Trip Gabriel also of the New York Times, also asserted an upside-down analysis tweeting, that the number one story of the night was Amy Klobuchar (who came in third) and the number two story of the night was Pete Buttigieg (who came in second) coming closer to Sanders than expected.

Sanders has been a punching bag for the media establishment for some time. In explaining its decision to pass over Sanders to endorse, strangely, both Warren and Klobuchar, the New York Times editorial board wrote “we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” Their competitors have been little different. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and Jennifer Rubin have made Trump-Sanders comparisons a writerly tick. Last April, Milbank said both Sanders has emerged as “the Donald Trump of the left,” citing their “flair for demagoguery” and speeches with “Trumpian flourishes.” Rubin for her part has been banging that drum as daily practice, accusing Sanders in January of “playing Trumpian politics.” As if a politician advocating for healthcare and against student debt somehow equaled Trump's authoritarian and racist [extremism].

. . . In consistently undercutting Sanders, news organizations do themselves no favors, also undercutting their own credibility in a time when they sell themselves as a corrective to disinformation (The Washington Post’s slogan is now “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” while the New York Times ran a “The Truth Is Worth It” ad campaign). This pattern of anti-Bernie coverage has spawned conspiracy theories – no assist to truth either. One voter, who says she “watches MSNBC constantly,” in Iowa told Ari Melber that though there were “multiple wonderful candidates who would be great presidents,” she voted for Bernie because she was angry about the “stop-Bernie cynicism” she heard from a number of MSNBC commentators.

– Mari Uyehara
Excerpted from “Why Does Mainstream Media
Keep Attacking Bernie Sanders as He Wins?

February 12, 2020

[One way that the corporate media presented Bernie Sanders'] victory in the New Hampshire primary as a loss was to combine the vote totals of all the "moderate" candidates to show that "Sanders could lose the Democratic nomination to a unified centrist vote" (Business Insider, 2/12/20). This is based on the assumption that supporters of particular candidates see themselves as belonging to ideological camps that don’t cross over—a dubious premise. For example, polling suggests that if Joe Biden were to drop out of the race, the biggest bloc of his supporters would switch to Sanders as their second choice.

Nevertheless, Vox (2/12/20) argued that the results “show Bernie Sanders still has an 'electability' problem,” claiming that exit polls showed that voters who prioritized beating Trump, rather than someone who they agree with on major issues, chose Buttigieg. But this is a false dichotomy that ignores the fact that words like “electable” and “pragmatic” have been coded for decades to mean “right-wing” or “pro-corporate.” (Extra!, 9/1/92, 7/1/06; FAIR.org, 1/1/95, 3/16/10, 8/21/19).

It also ignores the reality that Sanders does better in head-to-head polls against Trump than either Buttigieg or Klobuchar, who often lose to the president. If media analysts can’t seem to recognize this reality, voters increasingly do; in the latest Morning Consult poll (The Hill, 2/12/20), more voters (29%) named Sanders as the most likely to beat Trump than any other candidate.

– Alan MacLeod
Excerpted from “For Media in New Hampshire,
Losing Is Winning and Winning Is Losing

February 14, 2020

More than ever, Bernie Sanders is public enemy number one for power elites that thrive on economic injustice. The Bernie 2020 campaign is a direct threat to the undemocratic leverage that extremely wealthy individuals and huge corporations constantly exert on the political process. No wonder we’re now seeing so much anti-Bernie rage from leading corporate Democrats – eagerly amplified by corporate media.

In American politics, hell hath no fury like corporate power scorned.

Flagrant media biases against Sanders are routine in a wide range of mainstream outlets. (The media watch group FAIR has long documented the problem, illuminated by one piece after another after another after another just this month.) In sharp contrast, positivity toward Sanders in mass media spheres is scarce.

The pattern is enmeshed with the corporatism that the Sanders campaign seeks to replace with genuine democracy – disempowering great wealth and corporate heft while empowering everyday people to participate in a truly democratic process.

Big media are continually amplifying the voices of well-paid reporters and pundits whose jobs involve acceptance of corporate power, including the prerogatives of corporate owners and sponsors. And, in news coverage of politics, there’s an inexhaustible supply of former Democratic officeholders and appointees who’ve been lucratively feeding from corporate troughs as lobbyists, consultants and PR operatives. Their corporate ties usually go unmentioned.

An important media headquarters for hostility toward the Sanders campaign is MSNBC, owned by Comcast – a notoriously anti-labor and anti-consumer corporation. “People need to remember,” I pointed out on Democracy Now! last week, “that if you, for instance, don’t trust Comcast, why would you trust a network that is owned by Comcast? These are class interests being worked out where the top strata of ownership and investors hires the CEO, hires the managing editors, hires the reporters. And so, what we’re seeing, and not to be rhetorical about it, but we really are seeing a class war underway.”

– Norman Solomon
Excerpted from “The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders
Common Dreams
February 17, 2020

Many polls have documented what the public thinks about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ policy positions, and the evidence is overwhelming: From a wealth tax to minimum wage, they are extremely popular. . . . In October 2019, The Hill reported on an American Barometer survey that found “70% of the public supported providing ‘Medicare for All,’ also known as single-payer healthcare.” . . . [When journalists ignore such findings it means their] ignorance is willful, [with] roots in a profoundly ideological position, an ideology adopted by journalists who favor and are rewarded by corporate arguments promoted by corporate Democrats.

– Robin Andersen
Excerpted from “Factchecking NPR’s
Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders

February 18, 2020

None of the corporate media outlets – not ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSCBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, or the Associated Press – reported about the Yale study in a peer-reviewed medical journal finding that Bernie's Medicare for All bill would SAVE $450 billion and prevent 68,000 deaths a year.

Warren Gunnels
via Twitter
February 17, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
The Cosmic Irony of Bernie Sanders’s Rise – Seth Ackerman (Jacobin, February 17, 2020).
What Bernie Offers Trumpites: Sanders’ Message Resonates in Surprising Ways With Some of the President’s Fans – Michael Tracey (New York Daily News, February 17, 2020).
What “That’s Not Realistic” Really Means: Bernie Sanders, Social Democracy, and Capitalist Apologetics – William Hawes (Medium, February 15, 2020).
Jane Sanders Says Bernie Campaign Will Remove "Powers-That-Be" from Government: "We Already Have Corporate Socialism" – Benjamin Fearnow (Newsweek, February 15, 2020).
Comedian John Oliver Makes Case for Medicare for All, Debunks Right-Wing Talking Points – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 17, 2020).

UPDATES: Sanders Projected To Win Nevada Caucuses, Solidifying Front-Runner Status – Scott Detrow and Deirdre Walsh (NPR News, February 17, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is the Winner of the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucuses – Tara Golshan, Daniel Marans, and Carla Herreria (The Huffington Post, February 22, 2020).
“That's Called Electability”: Diverse Coalition Propels Bernie Sanders to Big Win in Nevada – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 22, 2020).
Multiple Studies Show Medicare for All Would Be Cheaper Than Public Option Pushed by Moderates – Igor Derysh (Salon, February 22, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is No Donald Trump – David Roth (The New Republic, February 21, 2020).
After Bernie Sanders' Landslide Nevada Win, It's Time for Democrats to Unite Behind Him – Nathan Robinson (The Guardian, February 23, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2017
Quote of the Day – January 21, 2017
Quote of the Day – November 9, 2016
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Carrying It On
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Quote of the Day – February 9, 2020
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
Quote of the Day – October 19, 2019
Quote(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019

Image: Artist unknown.

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