Why Doesn’t Big Media Get It?

There seems to be a reality block . . .

When Anderson Cooper (finally) looked at the polls that showed Senator Sanders faring better in Republican match-ups than Secretary Clinton, instead of asking, “Are you worried?” he asked Hillary Clinton, “Are you buying it?” Doesn’t that seem just a bit off? When Chris Hayes asked Susan Sarandon about her experience travelling around the country with Bernie’s historical campaign he did not ask her how exciting an experience that must be. No, he said, “What do you get out of that?”

Are they living in the same world we are? Is there some sort of mental blockage preventing these people from registering the reality that is right before them? I’m beginning to think that must be the case.

Though it’s fair to question the motives of corporate networks who benefit from advertising revenue, especially when they might see that profit threatened by the effort to “get the money out of politics,” I don’t think it’s a media conspiracy. Some Sanders’ supporters will make that argument, but it can’t just be about advertising revenue, or how would you explain all the free air time given to Donald Trump? Well, drama, train-wrecks, I guess it makes good TV. And maybe the gentleman maverick who is trying to buck the establishment just gets lost behind the loud blow-hard “reality” TV host.

It’s less likely to be a planned corporate coup than it is a kind of sheltered egotism. These “news” personalities have become out of touch with your life and mine, as detached from life outside their world as Washington is detached from life outside the Beltway. Maybe they trust their own assumptions and created narratives so much that they fail to see polls, numbers, and the hard evidence of giant crowds.

Meme (in the original sense) and the media

We see lots of what have come to be known as internet “memes” flying around with Bernie’s face on them. But memes are not simply photo-shopped pictures with a message sent out in hopes that they will “go viral.” The word meme was originally used by Richard Dawkins as a shortened version of a root word that basically means to mimic. Note the similarity to the word “mime.” A meme by Dawkins definition is a behavior, or a pattern, often linguistic in nature that gets passed along in a culture. The meme may be true or false, but it’s thought to be “successful” if it catches on.

I suggest to you that statements like “Bernie is too old to be president,” and the other myths about his electability, which Robert Reich talked about in his video in my last post, have been successful memes, so successful that even the news casters who probably made the assumptions in the first place just accept them as truth. From the beginning they set up the idea in our heads, maybe because they thought it would be such a great drama that it just had to happen, that the final fight for the White House would inevitably be Clinton against Trump. And ever since then, the most common theme among democrats and media pundits had to do with “preventing” a Trump presidency.

Could it be that this is why so many in corporate media are still convinced it’s going to be Clinton against Trump, even though the actual possibility could be Clinton and Cruise, Sanders and Trump, or even John Kasich against either Clinton or Sanders? And remember according to the polls if it’s Clinton against Kasich, she could very well lose in November.

But that’s not the narrative, so many in the media simply cannot imagine things going off script. But what if the American voters go off script, instead of just repeating the memes?

In an article in the Huffington Post on Thursday former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains:

The real reason the major media can’t see what’s happening is because the national media exist inside the bubble of establishment politics, centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power, centered in New York.

As such, the major national media are interested mainly in personalities and in the money behind the personalities. Political reporting is dominated by stories about the quirks and foibles of the candidates, and about the people and resources behind them.

Within this frame of reference, it seems nonsensical that a 74-year-old Jew from Vermont, originally from Brooklyn, who calls himself a Democratic socialist, who’s not a Democratic insider and wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party until recently, who has never been a fixture in the Washington or Manhattan circles of power and influence, and who has no major backers among the political or corporate or Wall Street elites of America, could possibly win the nomination.

Oh but he could. He actually could.

It’s Not Just Corporate Media Who Are Out of Touch

Some are trying to explain away his win in Wisconsin Tuesday. And apparently the Clinton campaign strategy is one of slash and burn. Thankfully at least CNN reported on this change of “tone.” The lack of foresight from Clinton here astounds me, as I doubt very much she will be able to re-unite the party later. Instead, I fear she’ll alienate millions of voters, and not just young white “bros.”

If she does that she will hand over the presidency to the Republicans and she will have nobody to blame but herself. Ignoring and and treating a large number of the democratic electorate is simply not wise. What I am saying, of course, is nothing new. Politicians who are not in touch with the working class in their own parties have become cliché. Hillary Clinton’s blind spot here is not surprising.

NOTE: Although I hadn’t hit the “publish” button yet, more has happened since I wrote the above. I must say that while she has more than once accused Sanders of an “artful smear,” she seems to be proving that she is indeed the queen of that negative tactic. I’ve seen it happen in the debates. Attack the other candidate while claiming that you are being attacked. It’s disappointing, Secretary Clinton. To be honest, I’m glad that Senator Sanders is fighting back. More on that coming soon.

6 Responses to Bernie Skeptics

With more than a little help from Robert Reich

Sanders swearing-in3

Sanders swearing-in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I said in my first post that I was a Hillary supporter at the beginning of this Democratic primary contest. I was extremely excited, as many people remain to be, about the prospect of a very powerful and charismatic woman who was undoubtedly capable of vanquishing any contender that the Republican party could throw at us. Many of you may recall the excitement elicited by the comments of President Obama’s “anger interpreter” last year at the anal Corespondents’ Dinner. For fans of Hillary and Game of Thrones “Khaalisi is coming to Westeros!” became a mantra. I confess, it was exhilarating.

I Also Evolved

So what happened? What changed my mind? As I said last time, it started with that look in my son’s eyes. I called it disappointment, but that doesn’t describe adequately the sort of look no father wants to see in his children’s eyes, that look that says not merely, “You don’t get it,” but “I love and respect you too much to tell you that I feel you don’t give me enough credit, Dad.” He expected a different reaction from his father who had previously inspired him, a straight young man, to stand up for gay rights, women’s rights, and to be compassionate towards others.

It immediately made me realize I had let him down. It snapped me awake. The more I thought about it in the following weeks the more I realized that though I’ve always liked Bernie, what I had seen and heard of him, I hadn’t actively researched this myself. And so I started doing that.

It’s not that I came to hate Hillary, but I came to more and more deeply admire Bernie. He was dismissed by the right, the center and even the dominant left, time and again over the years, for his strong positions on issues like gay rights, fair trade policies, battling big bank corruption, but he never wavered. He has been accused of being the do-nothing candidate, but passing bills is not the only way things get done in congress.

Politifact has determined that his campaign’s claim to Bernie being the “Role Call Amendment King” is true. That may seem like a small thing, but the article admits that he has not been ineffective by any standard. The Observer has a recent article on how Sanders “gets things done,” despite the fact that a great deal of even liberal leaning media has virtually ignored or dismissed him. More on that in my next post.

I was also starting to see that not only is Sanders still very strong and active, but that his record had remained impeccable for 40 years, despite attacks and criticism. I found myself respecting the fact that he made the decision–and stuck by it–not to take money from super PACs as a matter of principle, in his battle to eventually have the Supreme Court’s Citizens United (a laughably misnamed decision) overturned and to take back elections from the billionaires who buy them.

I also came to regret that I, even if just for a moment, treated my son the way Hillary has treated young voters across the nation, both in this election and in her previous one against Obama. She dismisses young citizens like my sons as low information voters, despite the fact that they are so deeply in tune with what is going on in the world. They do not limit their news intake to FOX, CNN, or MSNBC. Her campaign and her surrogates dismiss my sons as sexist “Bernie Bros,” despite the fact that my boys are the most tolerant, loving, accepting, thoughtful, non-sexist, homo-loving, straight white men you could ever meet. And they surround themselves with friends who have equally laudable values.

They have a wealth of information at their finger tips and the drive to research it. I was wrong, Jonathan. And so was she. She says you don’t do your own research, but you do, more than most adults. You’ve probably watched both her pro-Iraq war speech online, and Bernie’s anti-Iraq war speech online. She’s got you and your friends all wrong. And I want to publicly apologize for ever exercising even a fraction of the same misjudgment.

Robert Reich’s 6 Responses to Bernie Skeptics

But I can’t argue this whole case in one or two posts. There is a lot of this research to share with you, and others have said it as well or better than I can.

Months back former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich put out this video that cited Real Clear Politics aggregate poll results. Anderson Cooper ignored these poll results, or was unaware of them until recently when he asked Hillary Clinton, “Are you buying it?” More about that and the media’s underestimating of Bernie in my next post.

The video below shows numbers from January. If you want to check the most current polls click here. You can select various match-ups and see for yourself who fares better. As of the time of this post, Sanders continues to beat Trump by wider margins. And don’t forget about Cruz. Clinton looses to him in some of these polls, and surprisingly even loses every one of them when pitted against Kasich. Furthermore in the primaries thus far Senator Sanders has done consistently better than the pollsters expected. So where is the evidence for the belief so many of us have had that Clinton was the more electable candidate?

In fact, as I finish this post, I’ve been listening to the results of Sanders’ Wisconsin win, making it seven out of eight primaries and caucuses in a row in his favor. Isn’t it odd how many in the media seem to think this doesn’t matter? They cannot consider anything as possible except the narrative they have already created in their heads.  As I said, more on that in my next post.

I Started as a Pragmatic Hillary Supporter

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year when Senator Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the democratic nomination, I had two reactions. First I was happy he joined in. I felt he was a solid voice for the progressive movement in the United States. I had followed him off and on over the years with appreciation for his strong stance on issues from gay and civil rights to his opposition to the war in Iraq. His unwillingness to let Wall Street off the hook for the collapse of our nation’s economy in 2008 caught my attention, and earned my appreciation.

But when one of my sons expressed his support for Bernie for President, I said I didn’t think it could happen. I confess that I am ashamed of my cynicism now. I am ashamed that I didn’t do my research before I gave that response. It was that flicker of disappointment in my son’s eyes that got to me, not that he knew I must be right, but that he was sincerely saddened that I would so quickly parrot the words of news anchors without looking into Sanders’ chances objectively on my own. I should  have done better, been more informed, more open to new ideas. Not that he said any of those words, but I felt the sting. Maybe I was no better than others I would have criticized for believing in FOX news hype without checking their sources.

From time to time over the years I had caught a news clip, or a few minutes of C-SPAN coverage of one of Bernie Sanders’ speeches on the Senate floor in which he adamantly stood up for so many things that I have come to believe in, and I was impressed. I thought he would keep the democratic candidates honest, and possibly move the discussion more left, but why was I so quick to believe he didn’t have a chance? Someone, somewhere had said “He’s too old to be President.” And with no evidence I shrugged and thought, oh yeah. Too old. What was that? The power of suggestion? Yet, I don’t think I could have even told you last year what his age was . And I couldn’t have predicted then how completely I’d change my mind about that subject later.

He’s 74, by the way. Just five years older than Donald Trump, and only six years older than Hillary Clinton. But he’s been campaigning all over the country with energy and gusto, and shows no sign of being worn out. My own father is 84 and has only recently started to slow down. Could it be that 74 is the new 62? Why did we collectively have this idea that he was maybe 80 and getting weaker by the day? Are we, on the left, as susceptible to our favorite media as we accuse the right of being?

Are we fact-checking our heroes? Are we reading and reviewing more sources than just our short-list of favorites? Hillary recently said she “felt sorry for younger people who believe” Bernie. “They don’t do their own research.” But it seems to me that sometimes my sons do better research than I do. Ever notice how we “old folks” get stuck in our ways? So I decided to look into this more myself. I decided to watch as many debates as possible, and I think I only went to bed early on one of them so far, retiring half-way through, and checking the highlights later.

I had gotten away in the last year or so from discussing and following politics. The Facebook battles and the comment sections of blogs and articles were just too depressing. I was dealing with health issues, my own and those of a family member. Seeing how deeply divided my country was, how viscous my friends and neighbors could be with each other, and how tempting it was to snarl and snap back myself, led me to turn off notifications for a while. I confined my debates online to discussions about poetry and bird identification.

But as the campaign got under way and I was feeling more centered again I started to listen with fresh ears, and to a variety of sources. And I started to question this notion that Secretary of State Clinton was more electable. I started to appreciate even more just how long and how ardently, even when it was not popular or politically expedient to do so, Senator Bernie Sanders had consistently showed leadership in standing up for what was right. I began to see it as possible that we could have a leader in the White House who was indeed worthy of my respect.

This blog is the result of that journey. It’s an attempt to share how I have come to my conclusions. But it’s also to share with you articles, videos, news and testimony from others, that corroborate my conclusion that Bernie Sanders is the best choice for President of the United States now. I do not wish to fight or fume or argue, and I will be as kind and civil as possible, though I may push back a bit more than the gentlemanly Senator does for himself.

I do not think we benefit from name-calling and trash talking to each other. I do think we benefit from adult, open and compassionate conversation between fellow citizens, who despite those who would make money of the spectacle of our in-fighting, are in-fact equally desirous of making the world better, our nation more honorable, and our children’s future more promising. Here on the ground, neighbor to neighbor, despite our differences, we are more prone to agree with each other than we’ve been led to think. But scandal and conflict sells, doesn’t it? We’re better than that. Yeah, we really are.

And this is just the beginning.