Mainstream Media Goes Apoplectic

Fox News has always been the go-to station for alt-facts and hysteria, but with real progressive change gaining in the polls daily, the liberal media is outstripping Fox with false narratives on Sanders, with Warren in next in line.

TODAY! Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday 8:30am– 9 am. On February 29, Tabatha Hirsch, SF Prep student who led a student-driven process to develop HB 173, a remarkable gas tax bill. Joining her will be Marc Reynolds, SF Prep teacher who supported the work. The week prior, Roxanne and I did our annual Roundhouse Roundup with the full 45-minute podcast available at the link below. March 7 is pledge week, so Roxanne and I will be in studio with special guests TBD. The following week, Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard will be on the show and we will discuss the dust-up between Commissioner Garcia Richard and Speaker Brian Egolf as well as a range of other climate, land, and education related issues. Stay tuned.

You can access any of our podcasts by clicking here.

Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA), Saturday, Feb 29, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, Center for Progress & Justice. Action Planning Meeting. Action planning for April 22 Earth Day, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Groups worldwide are calling for a massive student strike and three days of direct action. Be part of YUCCA planning for this. They will be discussing how to build the capacity to mobilize our communities — to take to the streets, to take to the polls, to develop community-driven policy proposals, and to hold our elected officials accountable once they are in office — whether they are the candidates we campaigned for, or their opposition.

We can only win progressive policies like the Green New Deal and YUCCA’s state-level demands if our politicians have no choice but to enact them. YUCCA needs all hands on deck. Please come on Saturday and please personally invite 3-5 friends to join you in forming a strike circle or affinity group. Click here for more info and to RSVP on Facebook. Please share this with others and bring a crowd.

Carolina On My Mind

South Carolina is supposed to be the firewall where Biden demonstrated a commanding lead among African Americans. But he was also supposed to do well in Nevada because the false narrative for Sanders was that he was not popular among communities of color. Well, since garnering over 65% of the Latino vote in Nevada, Sanders has squashed one narrative. And with Biden’s support among African Americans slipping nationally and Sanders being the major benefactor, another important myth appears to be on shaky ground. As a result, an upset may be possible in South Carolina or at the very least a much slimmer margin than was projected just one month ago.

But even if Sanders doesn’t carry South Carolina, Super Tuesday follows immediately and polls suggest Sanders taking Massachusetts, Texas, California, Utah and perhaps 12-14 of the 15 states in play. If he does that, with him now leading the field of Dems by 10-13% nationally, it may be time to start unifying behind him, instead of acceding to the mantra of corporate interests described below. They do not want substantive change and never have. We have not had a leader who really advanced significant systemic change since JFK and FDR. And there is a reason. The difference between the 40s and the 60s and today, is that the media, Wall St and big business have concentrated their power in unimaginable ways. This may be our last shot at our only shot to mitigate climate change and to address fundamental injustices that can be found everywhere you turn, from healthcare, gun violence, money in politics, imperialism, tax policy, indigenous rights, women’s rights, civil rights, education…..

To be very clear, if Elizabeth Warren were the candidate leading the field, I’d be exhorting people to ignore the insidious alt-fact attacks on her. But she is in real danger of losing her own state, perhaps by quite a bit. She is now accepting the support of a Super Pac to fight that off. This leads me to the most important reason why it might be time to align behind Sanders: his army of small donors and volunteers and that army of volunteers has eight months to have conversations with neighbors and friends to tamp out the fears and help people better understand how issues being described as extreme have almost all be successfully implemented in many developed nations. If they can do this, why can’t we? And Wall St and the rich understand the reality of the threat he poses to their power, hence the attacks below.

Get Ready For An All Out Media Assault on Sanders & Warren

Roxanne and I are still at our retreat and so this post was written on Tuesday morning. I am using today’s post to share a report on just how far centrist Democrats and the corporate media are willing to go to prevent real change in America. We have not seen substantive progressive change in America in over 70 years and the reason for this is the alignment of the 1%, the mega corporations, and the mainstream media who have squashed any and all challenges to neoliberalist policies to preserve the sanctity of capitalism and the corporatocracy’s control of our futures.

With Sanders rising in the polls, these forces were destined to take action and as this post makes clear, they have. And with more to come. The hit pieces and false narratives are designed to undermine Democrat and Independent confidence in real change. Their rhetoric is aimed squarely at Sanders, for now. But rest assured if they are able to take down Sanders a notch, Warren will be next in their cross hairs.

To all of you who read this blog who have commented on or even thought for a moment that a vote for Sanders or Warren is political suicide, and to all of you who feel compelled to support a “safe” candidate (Mayor Webber), be mindful that with the climate crisis about to accelerate and with the wealth gap increasing hourly, we are in desperate need of bold change, not tepid measures. And bold change will NEVER be acceptable to the powers that be who control the media, social media, and the Democratic Party. We must be ready for their false charges and desperate rhetoric, but we simply can’t cower and retreat. Our planet is at stake and the Bidens, Buttigiegs and Klobuchars of the world are not going to save it. The time is now.

And so today, I offer an honest appraisal of what is coming from the corporatocracy and their allies. CounterPunch offered an excellent analysis of the extent to which the “liberal” media has taken on the role of repeating an array of mis-truths, overstatements, and absurd charges. They organize these charges into four groups:

  • Red baiting, absurdly equating Sanders’ democratic socialism with Stalin and Marx;
  • Contrasting a vote for your values with a vote for electability, a false narrative that ignores polling that shows Sanders is, in fact, the most electable of all Democrats;
  • Trashing Medicare For All, despite independent reports demonstrating that M4A would actually save Americans $450 billion a year; and
  • Equating Sanders’ movement with Trump’s as Neo-Fascist in its core.

These false narratives are not being surfaced by Fox, but by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC, not to mention The Atlantic, NY Times, and Washington Post. There was a time when there were media outlets that fostered genuine, intelligent debate about policy and politics. As CounterPunch makes clear, those days are over.

I can’t help but wonder what might actually transpire if the media were hosting honest conversations with intelligent debate of Sanders’ and Warren’s policies and positions instead of knee-jerk Fox-like hysteria. Americans might be able to fairly weigh how Sanders’ and Warren’s platforms meet or don’t meet their priorities, needs and aspirations.

It speaks volumes of the allure of the Sanders / Warren narrative that Sanders continues to surge in the polls with Warren also showing a bump after the Nevada debate while the centrist alternatives all fade badly. Let’s take a look at the absurd lengths the corporate media will go to slow the Sanders’ train.

Falsely Comparing Sanders’ Policies with Marxism

Veteran political talk-show host Chris Matthews channeled Joe McCarthy before the New Hampshire Democratic Primary in a bizarre tirade linking the “socialist Sanders” to the supposed threat of “executions in Central Park” if “Castro and the Reds” had “won the Cold War.”

I am sure millions of Americans live in terror that Bernie is going to initiate executions in Central Park. It isn’t just the media making red-baiting charges, but also the corporate candidates who see their polling numbers collapsing in the face of Sanders and Warren’s surge:

The dangerous Red Bernie storyline is promoted by competing Democratic candidates. During MSDNC’s presidential debate in Las Vegas last week, the mega-billionaire and longtime Republican Michael Bloomberg identified Sanders with “communism” while the billionaire-backed McKinsey Company veteran Pete Buttigieg claimed that the “radical” Sanders “wants to burn down the house.” 

Really? Never mind that Sanders and Warren support policies that are found commonly throughout the developed world. We expect this kind of rhetoric from Trump, but wouldn’t it be nice if these candidates could discuss the details of their plans and contrast them thoughtfully. Well, that was tried over the last two months and the result is America is responding to progressive priorities, policies and values, as the primary results and the polls illustrate.

Values vs Electability

A second form of “liberal” anti-Sanders media is the constant narrative that Democratic primary voters must choose between a candidate like Sanders who embodies their values and policy preferences and a candidate who can beat Trump. 

In a prior post, “What Is Wrong With Electability?” we thoroughly countered the argument that we must suppress our values and aspirations in favor of “electability.” But the media is not going to let this false narrative disappear any time soon. If you say something often enough, some people will buy it or at least repeat it.

At CNN last Saturday, morning host Michael Smerconish trumpeted the Democratic Party’s “superdelegates” – the nearly 15% of Democratic National Convention presidential candidate and platform selection delegates who represent the party’s establishment. Smerconish praised the unelected superdelegates for ensuring “candidate quality control through a form of peer review” and representing “the wisdom of party elders to hold back the masses” from “a populist surge” that would nominate a “disastrous” candidate who can’t “survive a general election.”

This is simply patronizing to the intelligence of Democrat voters who apparently must be protected from voting their values through the undemocratic DNC engineered superdelegate system.

Painting Medicare For All As a Socialist Pipe Dream

Retake debunked the many myths surrounding the viability of Medicare For All, but the media and Mayor Pete seem hellbent on a false narrative that Sanders’ and Warren’s healthcare plans would bankrupt America. Click here to review Wednesday’s post.

The “liberal” mantra that Sanders’ programs are “fiscally irresponsible” and “too radical” for the American people are false. Sanders pays for his popular programs (hardly radical or all that “socialist” when compared to policies in place in numerous other rich nations) with increased taxes on the absurdly under-taxed American rich and their absurdly under-taxed corporations and financial institutions – and by rolling back massive public subsidies (accurately described by Sanders as “socialism for the rich”) government grants Big Business. “

Again, Wednesday’s post offered a very thorough explication of the economic viability of Medicare For All, its popularity with both Democrats and Independents, and the desperate condition of our existing healthcare system.

Absurdly Comparing Sanders with Trump’s Neo-Fascist Populism

It is hard to imagine two more dissimilar political figures. But, as CounterPoint outlines, the media knows no bounds.

“Liberal” politicos and media operatives now habitually make snobbish parallels between the two, portraying both as blunt and tough “populists” with authoritarian instincts and “bitter” and “angry” white-guy followers. Never mind that Trump and his base are neo-fascistic racist, Nativist, sexist and eco-cidal, and authoritarian fake-populists whose essence is hatred and division in service to the wealthy Few while Sanders and his backers are progressive populists, social democrats, and environmentalists who oppose racism, nativism, sexism in the name of popular, working-class solidarity against the reigning capitalist “billionaire class.”

There is some truth to the populist comparison, but the truth contained is precisely why Sanders’ message will resonate with some Trump supporters. The Democrats who crossed over to vote for Trump and the core of his base are comprised of people who had been abandoned by both parties for decades. Sanders’ and to a degree Warren’s populist rhetoric are backed by policies that actually address the needs that drove many to Trump. And with Trump doing nothing on healthcare, having cut taxes for the rich, having implemented tariff policies that are starving small farmers, and with Trump now pardoning the kinds of people he had promised to drain from the swamp, many Trump supporters are very likely to give Sanders a listen. CounterPunch offers this more fact-based contrast between Trump and Sanders:

Every Trump rally I have watched (at least ten by now) has been a prolonged racist, nativist, sexist, and authoritarian hate session dedicated to advancing a sick cult of personality and dividing up the country to more effectively rule it from the top down. By contrast, every Sanders rally I have attended (five by now) has conveyed an egalitarian message of love and solidarity combined with the notion that everyday working-class people need to reach across their differences to unite in a movement opposed to corporate and financial plutocracy.

And, if only that were the worst of the disingenuous reporting

While the false narratives described above are the main thrust of the attacks on Sanders, we have heard all of these that follow. If we are ever going to achieve the kind of systemic change that is our only hope, we will have to face down these kinds of charges sooner or later. The media is concentrated in the hands of five mega corporations and they are no more fond of reform than are pharma, gas and oil, insurance, agribusiness, and Wall St. It is up to all of us to become familiar with these false narratives and be able to counter these false narratives.

Besides these four master narratives in the “liberal” corporate media’s propaganda war on Sanders, other storylines and modes of bias deserve mention: the evidence-free suggestion that Bernie is also (like Trump) a “Russian asset;” the under-coverage of Sanders’ rallies, platform, and victories; the repetition of other candidates’ claims that Sanders is personally responsible for every incident of online abuse committed by those purporting to be his supporters; the false claim that Sanders is a friend of the National Rifle Association; the claim that Sanders has a big race problem (ironic since he’s the top-level candidate with by far the strongest anti-racist record and the best platform to meet the needs of the nation’s non-white citizens); the claim that Sanders isn’t a Democrat (he’s Caucused with Democrats in Congress since the 1990s and he’s run for president as a Democrats for the last five-plus years); sniping at Sanders for “not getting much done in Congress” (hardly surprising given the role of corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions in stifling progressive policy proposals in Washington); false claims that Sanders would be a “down-ticket” disaster for Democrats running for Congress; pretend shock over Sanders’ acknowledgement that there’s a Democratic Party establishment opposed to him; and weak analogies between Sanders and the failed British Labour Party candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

Some of you will read this post and conclude that this is precisely why we need to find a ‘safer’ candidate. But caution and moderation are not going to get us health security, but Medicare For All will; half measures are not going address the climate crisis, but the Green New Deal will; catering to Walls St. and the 1% will not close the wealth gap, but taxing the rich and implementing a wealth tax will. Over 65% of Americans under 45 get it. They understand that they are fighting for their future and they know the clock is ticking. We owe it to that generation to step up for them now, before that clicking clock runs out. And there are signs that America is beginning to get it, too. Take this comment from William Rivers Pitt in Truthout:

Sanders is capturing the allegiance of voters who don’t often participate or have never participated before. Nearly half the country stayed home in 2016. If Sanders is the candidate who can bring them to the voting booth, that final piece establishes an overwhelmingly powerful and comprehensive coalition. Put another way, Sanders is constructing a coalition that looks like what the Democratic Party advertises itself as: Diverse across a vast swath of demographics and age groups. “

In hope and solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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5 replies

  1. Here is a link to a really interesting article – seems like some good ideas in it. Looks like something that should be shared widely.

  2. Your repeated exposure of media biases are, to me, repeated reminders to PUSH REAL HARD for net neutrality.

  3. For awhile, until I learned better, I thought T. Friedman was somebody I should listen to.
    Not anymore.

  4. So many false narratives, all converge to undermine what is left of our democracy. They keep people under informed, misinformed and misguided. So many are found in our local media, a constant barrage of misinformation. Another thing to look out for in general is Advertorials, and self described “experts” weighing in on various topics, to promote themselves, their organization, or to peddle something.

    No one in media, other than a few organizations that will never get amplified by corporate media, did any real analysis after 2016. The results have been very good for the corporate media outlets, and the big tech corporations.

    This country used to have laws, regulations, and even common decency, restrictions on certain kinds of marketing. The evisceration of the FTC, and the failure to regulate any aspect of social media, and only reacting long after the damage is done, shows just how ineffective any of it is.

    The AG is going after Google for violating children’s privacy of course long after their data was used to manipulate them, track their movement, and influence their parent’s buying “decisions.” Major corporate media outlets referred to biased studies, funded by the big tech corps, about the impact of technology on children. It seems we still had a few laws left about marketing to children, tracking their movements, and manipulating them.

    Even the Corona Virus in not off limits for misreported facts, lies and deceptive marketing. None of the pundits , and corporate funded alternative reality peddlers at the major networks, will discuss the economic impact on millions of American gig workers, and people who are one paycheck from financial devastation. The people who will show up to work infected, because they will lose their jobs, or can’t afford any time off. The people who can’t afford a co pay at the clinic, who will stay home and suffer it out.

    Watching out vice president, downplay the facts, and justify the response by our dear leader, as he claimed Americans are at “low risk” a talking point given him, by the administration, should be terrifying. Closing schools and factories, won’t effect his wealthy handlers very much, but it will have a serious impact on communities like ours.

    Yep, History does repeat itself. They really should not be equating the flue pandemic of 1918, with the Corona Virus, but it amplifies the current false narrative.

    Back then they peddled some snake oil, and today, in spite of science and reason, here we are again.

    For years our federal government created laws to protect people from misinformation and deceptive marketing, those laws are gone or no longer enforced. Check out the responses, a physician recommends an herbal remedy, untried untested, and thanks to deregulation, there is no guarantee, the product will even contain any active ingredients. This kind of physician marketing is highly irresponsible, and used to be unlawful.

    Nothing to see here folks, another “private consultant’ coming back into serving in our state. He refers to health insurance buyers as “consumers.” This means that they should be exposed to deceptive marketing, just like when they buy a car, or a couch. in his 70s he has not acknowledged the incredible power of the industry to manipulate and mislead. New Mexico has a two tiered healthcare system, one for the people with good high reimbursing insurance, and another for everyone else. Since there is a shortage of physicians, even for the wealthier among us, no agency chose to study the impact on public health or anything else.

  5. Your humility is appreciated. Especially after some of the incredibly elitist remarks about South Carolina on fakebook. South Carolina voters have been accused of being “stupid” and “uneducated”. I’m surprised nobody used the n-word. We need to see what the PEOPLE are willing to vote for. This is no time for extreme fanaticism.

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