Why the Media Needs to Stop Marginalizing Bernie Sanders
Will the free press continue to marginalize Bernie Sanders?
Bernie Sanders is a Litmus Test for Unbiased Free Press
Bernie Sanders ain't sexy. He's old, unkempt, unpolished, and he says the things we're not supposed to say in polite company. We're supposed to revere free market principles and praise the efficiency of the private sector. We're supposed to insist that our nation's military receive ample funding and have whatever it wants. We're supposed to work hard and praise the merits of capitalistic competition and insist that America is a nation where anyone can pull himself up by his bootstraps and achieve the American Dream.
Bernie Sanders, who has now officially launched his presidential campaign, doesn't say those things. He talks real. He doesn't showboat. He has labeled income inequality as the defining issue of our day and will not stop until he helps fix a broken system that allows the top one percent to increase their wealth at the expense of the bottom ninety-nine. And, unfortunately and unfairly, the media is pushing him off to the side. Mainstream media reports, instead of informing voters of the issues, seem to revel in how far Sanders trails Hillary Clinton, his competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is far ahead in the polls...just like she was in 2007 when Barack Obama was a little-known rookie U.S. Senator from Illinois. In 2015, just like in 2007, the media is insisting that Clinton is the "inevitable" nominee. You would think that the media conglomerates would have learned from their mistake...
But, while the media is often credited with helping Obama clinch the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in a come-from-behind victory, Sanders won't be so lucky. He's old, white, and male - no journalist is going to win a Pulitzer if he succeeds. 44th White Male Wins Oval Office will not win awards. First Woman Ascends to the Presidency, by contrast, will win awards. As a plus, Clinton is more than willing to play ball with the mainstream media and throw glitzy galas and invite well-coiffed media figures.
Sanders, focused on the average Joe, doesn't appease the media. He won't throw glitzy galas, hobnob with millionaire media moguls, or win journalists any awards. Giving Bernie Sanders fair press is not sexy. But giving Bernie Sanders fair press is a litmus test of good journalism.
Good journalism, instead of treating Sanders' "socialist" ideas as part of the lunatic fringe, acknowledges that his ideas have strong roots in the histories of both the United States and our close allies. Higher taxes on the rich? Under president Eisenhower in the 1950s, we had marginal tax rates of up to 90 percent on the super-rich! And how was the U.S. economy doing in the '50s? Booming! Single-payer universal health care? Canada and Britain have it, and are our closest friends. Oh, and we also have similar systems existing for broad segments of our society: Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA.
Free college for qualified students? Europe loves it...and their graduates outrank ours all across the board. Oh, and when we drastically cut students' college costs after World War II with the GI Bill we experienced tremendous economic growth over the next thirty years...coincidence? I think not.
Cutting defense spending? The U.S. out-spends most of the rest of the world combined and has built wasteful weapons systems that have never been used in combat. F-35 and F-22, anyone? Then there's the unpleasant fact that, of all government spending, defense spending creates the fewest jobs per dollar.
Helping the economy by building new infrastructure and putting millions of unemployed and underemployed citizens to work? Hmmm...sounds like the New Deal. Did that work? Is the Great Depression still ongoing?
Bernie Sanders' ideas and policy goals are sound. He is an experienced politician who could more than hold his own in the Oval Office. Ignoring the soundness of Sanders' candidacy reveals a media bias and shallowness that is shameful. Ignoring the soundness of Sanders' candidacy does the voting public a disservice. And isn't serving the public one of the basic tenets of a free press?