The Forces Arrayed Against Bernie– Before He Faces Trump

Written by on March 6, 2019

Not that anyone thought she would try, but Hillary finally announced yesterday– on camera— that she isn’t running for president again in 2020. “I’m not running, but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” she said. On Wednesday, Holly Otterbein’s report at Politico might lead you to believe that what she believes in is preventing a progressive from becoming president– particularly one progressive. Clinton die-hards are leading the charge against Bernie and are as vicious today and this were in 2016. Otterbein wrote that the creepy crawly, right-of-center corporate slime around her– like GOP-hatchet-man who turned Clinton mainstay, David Brock– “both on the record and on background, on Twitter and on cable television, Clinton’s former aides and allies are taking pains to lay out what they see as all of Sanders’s flaws, imperfections and vulnerabilities– much as he once did to their ex-boss during a primary that saw mud flying on both sides. The other Clintonistas leading an anti-Bernie scorched earth campaign that could help reelect Trump are Neera Tanden, Adam Parkhomenko, Zac Petkanas, and Zerlina Maxwell (who has distinguished herself as someone who tells as many unhinged lies as Trump).

This week, though, Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, wrote that The Big Obstacle For Bernie Isn’t DNC “Rigging”– It’s Media Trashing, quickly asking his readers to recall Frederick Douglass’ most famous quotation: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Adds Solomon: “Of course top Democratic Party officials don’t intend to give up control. It has to be taken from them. And the conditions for doing that are now more favorable than ever… But let’s be clear. The huge obstacle ahead is not the DNC– it’s the mass media. The corporate-owned and corporate-advertiser-funded media of this country are the biggest barriers between Bernie Sanders and the Oval Office.”

Often functioning as propaganda outlets, the major news media serve as an amplification system for corporate power that has long shielded the Democratic Party from the combined “threats” of social movements and progressive populist candidates. The synergies of momentum from the left– outside and inside of electoral arenas– are continuing to accelerate.

It’s crucial that progressives develop more effective challenges to the media serving the predatory big-money system. More than any other force, reflexive spin from corporate media stands between us and a Bernie Sanders presidency.

In sharp contrast to campaigns with enormous budgets for Astroturf, the first Sanders presidential campaign was able to effectively defy the conventional wisdom and overall power structure by inspiring and mobilizing at the grassroots. His campaign was– and is– antithetical to the politics of corporate media.

Two examples of news coverage, exactly three years apart, indicate what the Bernie 2020 campaign will be up against. In early March 2016, at a pivotal moment during the primary campaign, FAIR analyst Adam Johnson documented that the Washington Post “ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours… a window that includes the crucial Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, and the next morning’s spin.”

Days ago, when Bernie Sanders launched his campaign with a big rally in Brooklyn, the MSNBC coverage was so slanted that an assessment from Glenn Greenwald appeared under the headline “MSNBC Yet Again Broadcasts Blatant Lies, This Time About Bernie Sanders’ Opening Speech, and Refuses to Correct Them.”

Greenwald’s critique of MSNBC focused on flagrantly inaccurate anti-Sanders commentary from a former Hillary Clinton aide that immediately followed the senator’s Brooklyn speech. No Sanders supporter was included in the discussion. The coverage prompted an email from FAIR founder (and my colleague) Jeff Cohen to an MSNBC vice president: “You have no trouble finding hardcore Clintonite Bernie-bashers; please offer some balance in your analysts. In today’s Democratic Party, there’s clearly more sympathy for Bernie than the Clintons– but not on MSNBC.”

It’s worth noting that the Post is owned by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, while MSNBC is owned by Comcast, “the world’s largest entertainment company.”

To counteract the media propaganda arsenal now in place, we should fully recognize that arsenal as the main weaponry that corporate power will deploy against the Bernie 2020 campaign. We must confront those corporate media forces while vastly strengthening independent progressive media work of all kinds.

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