It’s time we talk about the corporate media.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, just as in 2016, deals with an adversarial corporate media that either covers him unfairly or ignores his candidacy entirely. If you watch MSNBC or CNN all day, this may come as a surprise; but among progressive circles and Bernie’s massive and loyal base, this is no secret. So you can imagine how we felt when we were expected to hold our noses and vote for The Anointed One in 2016 despite dealing with this level of blatant unfairness from the corporate media and the Democratic National Committee itself. 

As many of us in the Sanders camp predicted, Donald Trump won the election. Then, unbelievably, Sanders and his supporters were somehow blamed for it, even though institutions like the Electoral College and Clinton’s failure to adequately campaign in battleground states like Wisconsin were far more sensible culprits. Sanders literally endorsed Clinton, campaigned for her, and she won by nearly 3 million votes, yet many people still blame Bernie for a Trump presidency. You couldn’t make something up more absurd, yet the corporate media did.

If you’re a business-as-usual Democrat who was “with her” please try to imagine how that feels. A lot of us who support Sanders, myself included, not only made multiple small donations in 2016, but also walked through the elements to campaign for him door-to-door while phone banking on the side (he has 1 million people committed to volunteer this year, by the way).

Yet despite warning a Clinton nomination would mean a Trump presidency we are blamed, while the corporate media — which simultaneously elevated Trump for ratings and ignored and smeared Sanders in 2016 — are completely excused from any blame. Just like Clinton and the crony DNC were somehow the victims rather than clear failures.

Also, still many sadly refer to Sanders supporters as “misogynist” or “sexist” just like they did in 2016. 

And rest assured, I get it; I am a straight white male millennial. I am a “Bernie Bro.” I am the exact person the corporate media describes as the quintessential Bernie supporter.

But what about my wife? My mom? My boomer dad? My grandma? My dozens of friends of color, both male and female, who support Sanders?

And would we ever in a million years be allowed to call people anti-Semites for not supporting Sanders? Or was the “you’re a sexist misogynist for not supporting Hillary” line completely asinine from the start, a blatant refusal to reckon with she and her husband’s neoliberal political careers rife with corruption? And am I still a “misogynist” or “sexist” because I won’t support business-as-usual Biden for the same exact reasons I didn’t support Hillary Clinton?

Look at the Washington Post and New York Times, who ran many hit pieces on Sanders, not to mention the manufactured consent on MSNBC. Imagine, as your candidate was getting blasted or ignored in the media, you watched Joe Biden’s countless gaffes and voting career as a right-of-center Democrat go ignored or apologized for. You saw Kamala Harris’s career as a prosecutor go untouched by corporate media. You saw Elizabeth Warren’s bizarre claim to be a Native American ultimately buried, or witnessed Pete Buttigieg, a no-name mayor of a small town, be cherry-picked by the corporate media and elevated accordingly.

I mean, seriously, imagine if Sanders received a fraction of the coverage in 2016, or even in this race, that “Mayor Pete” has enjoyed.

And speaking of Buttigieg, we aren’t even allowed to criticize the candidates, right? “Blue no matter who,” as though all 20 people on the debate stage are exactly the same. As though once the general election rolls around the right is going to completely ignore the litany of shortcomings of all of these business-as-usual candidates. As though Trump is going to play nice with any of them in a general election.

It’s completely delusional, and a strategy that failed less than four years ago, but here we are gearing up to try it again. 

There’s no dirt on Sanders. We only see attempts to paint his policy positions as scary “socialism.” Just as one example, sure taxes would raise under Medicare for All, but the total cost of health care would obviously go down when you take away the for-profit model; the corporate media’s Democratic debates have already covered this disingenuously. “He’s too angry” or “he’s too old” or any other lame reason to “stop Sanders” doesn’t even pretend to address his popular positions on policy.

If America’s most popular politician — who beats Trump in nearly every poll, who holds revolutionary and popular policy positions, and who is beholden to the people, not special interest groups — received decent coverage from the mainstream media, I daresay we’d have a surefire winner for president.

Unfortunately, the interests of Sanders and the people don’t jive with the interest of politicians like Biden, Clinton, or Trump and their corporate masters. 

Sam Shain of Hallowell is a musician and an English teacher.


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