Tonight’s debate was full of examples where self-interest, generational and personal, clashed with leadership. But those clashes were hardly the only kinds. The media’s decidedly neoliberal bent was on full display during the debate, and now in the post-debate rush to publish analyses.
Andrea Mitchell’s tone with Sanders was particularly striking for its uncharacteristic antipathy:
Andrea Mitchell got what she deserved for asking improper questions of a candidate who has remained faithful to his promise to run a campaign that is focused on the issues. The second question, however, was a very poor attempt at discrediting single-payer healthcare by asking Sanders about the failure of some other politician? Surely, Mitchell knows that there is no overlap between the work of governors and US Senators? She has to, right?
Mitchell’s job at the debate was to ask questions that would elicit informational answers from the candidates and not, as she did with Sanders, include obviously biased assumptions about the candidate’s position. NBC should not have used her in the debate. Mitchell, as the spouse of former Fed chair, Alan Greenspan, has a huge conflict of interest when it comes to Sanders, and it showed tonight and in recent interviews she’s conducted with him.
But she’s hardly the only veteran reporter to bring bias to work. Matthew Yglesias at Vox has, along with a couple of their reporters, consistently been critical, if not derisive of Sanders. Within an hour of the end of the debate, begins his piece entitled, It’s time to start taking Bernie Sanders seriously, with:
Like most journalists, I’ve been covering Bernie Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign as fundamentally more about making a point than about electing a president. He’s out there to talk about his issues, to shift the terms of the debate, and to force Hillary Clinton to commit herself to progressive causes.
And it’s been working.
I’ve followed Yglesias’ economic analysis work for some years now and I know for a fact that he is both capable of more serious efforts at extrapolation, and deeper analyses. This piece attempts neither, and begins with an assertion that is patently biased. While it is Yglesias’ right to cover Bernie Sanders any way he wishes, it isn’t a fact that Sanders has been running only to push Clinton to the left. In fact, we’ve known for some time that Sanders is running to win.
What is really egregious in Yglesias’ piece, is the fact that he makes demands of Sanders’ plan and calls it unserious for lack of details such as what happens when there is a shortage of medical equipment or whether chiropractor visits will be covered, when Clinton’s plan is about a quarter the text of Sanders’ and contains no facts or figures associated with her prescription for healthcare.
What Yglesias seems to expect of Sanders is a piece of legislation – not a plan, and that simply isn’t how politicians typically publish planks. I’m pretty sure he knew that when he sat down to write his piece. In his piece, Yglesias saw fit to rename Sanders’ plan “Berniecare.” Why?
Then, he asks if Berniecare will cover abortion. I’m pretty sure Yglesias knows that just as Clinton has never talked about amending Obamacare to cover abortions as a part of repealing the Hyde Amendment, there should be no expectation that Sanders would get that deep into the details of what would be covered, much less announcing policy that would require the repeal of a law that is on the books. To characterize Yglesias’ work as intellectually-dishonest slop-think is to put it very mildly.
Which brings me to the one and only invocation of Bernie Sanders‘ name, for at least the last two years, in a Paul Krugman op-ed or blog post.
“But on the left, in particular, there are some people who, disappointed by the limits of what President Obama has accomplished, minimize the differences between the parties. Whoever the next president is, they assert — or at least, whoever it is if it’s not Bernie Sanders — things will remain pretty much the same, with the wealthy continuing to dominate the scene.”
Krugman’s assessment is in perfect alignment with Hillary Clinton’s healthcare debate answer in that we are limited in what we can do due to our political situation. The translation of Clinton’s answer is that because she failed to bring about universal healthcare in the 90’s and it was so difficult even with a democratically-controlled Congress, to agree to single-payer, we should not aspire to do more, and for good measure, she threw in the hand-grenade of losing what Obama accomplished, and healthcare as we know it:
But as Sanders explained, nothing would be undone and, what’s more important, how can we remain satisfied when 29 million Americans are left without, just so Big Insurance can continue to unjustifiably earn billions as useless middlemen?
Unsurprisingly, Paul Krugman’s op-ed for January 18th, echoes Clinton’s debate answers on healthcare, just as Yglesias attempted to bolster them. You shouldn’t do more because we already have more and pushing for the rest is risky. There is no sure thing in life, that’s for certain. But just as certain, is the moral imperative to do better for all of us, not be content with what only some of us have. Martin Luther King died because he did the right thing and didn’t stop at voting rights and civil rights. There was more to be done then, just as there is more to be done now.
Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, Killer Mike, and Nina Turner talk about Martin Luther King, 1.17/16
If Sanders is about fundamentally changing the way Americans value themselves in the way they vote, Clinton is about salvaging a status quo that everyone knows has failed. If Yglesias and Krugman are about convincing us that things can’t be done because they just can’t, poll after poll, achievement after achievement by what media has consistently billed as an impossible campaign has shown us that voters are of a completely different mindset than “conventional wisdom” dictates.
Media bias is changing with the circumstances. Pundits are now discouraging people by telling them that the political situation won’t allow, realistically, for sweeping change. Content yourselves with the bit you have, don’t try to work for more or better. Is that what America is now about? Whose interests does this kind of thinking serve?
Our movements, in this case the Liberal movement, has failed us by moving to the right of the needs of its people. Sanders is right. The DNC needs reform and that reform can only come with a political revolution of Democratic voters first, and the general electorate next.
I always tell my daughter never to let anyone discourage her from trying to reach higher. Please listen to me, don’t let anyone convince you we can’t do better. It is unnatural and un-American.
Tonight’s online polling declared Sanders the winner of the debate and, were the primary to be held today, its winner by a landslide. My modest Twitter poll yielded this as the result:
— Rima Regas, Blog#42 (@Rima_Regas) January 18, 2016
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Read the rest at Politico.com