The corporate media would like you to think Bernie Sanders can't win the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton. And they're doing their damnedest to make their own preference into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Columbia Journalism Review looks at how the media is covering Bernie Sanders' entry into the 2016 presidential race, and it isn't pretty. They start with comparisons to the out-of-touch press coverage of the Truman-Dewey race (culminating in the humiliatingly wrong headline in the Chicago Tribune: “Dewey defeats Truman” ), and go from there:
[You] could not have been surprised by the reception Bernie Sanders got last month when he entered the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Sanders...quaintly maintains that people and the planet are more important than profit. Not long ago such beliefs fell well within the waters of the main stream where politicians swam, but the current has since been rerouted, and Sanders now paddles hard against the left bank. For not going with the flow, and for challenging Hillary Clinton, the big fish many elites have tagged as their own, Sanders’s entry into the race was greeted with story after story whose message—stated or understated, depending on the decorum of the messenger—was “This crank can’t win.”The usual excuse for this sort of coverage is that Sanders is a long-shot. But that hasn't stopped the media from covering other long-shot candidates in an even-handed way:
The trouble with this consensus is the paucity of evidence to support it. “This crank actually could win” is nearer the mark. But having settled on a prophecy, the media went about covering Sanders so as to fulfill it. The Times, for example, buried his announcement on page A21, even though every other candidate who had declared before then had been put on the front page above the fold. Sanders’s straight-news story didn’t even crack 700 words, compared to the 1,100 to 1,500 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton got. As for the content, the Times’ reporters declared high in Sanders’s piece that he was a long shot for the Democratic nomination and that Clinton was all but a lock. None of the Republican entrants got the long-shot treatment, even though Paul, Rubio, and Cruz were generally polling fifth, seventh, and eighth among Republicans before they announced.
Other coverage of Sanders ran to caricature, as in Paul Kane and Philip Rucker’s personality piece in the Washington Post, which opened, “He seems an unlikely presidential candidate—an ex-hippie, septuagenarian socialist from the liberal reaches of Vermont who rails, in his thick Brooklyn accent, rumpled suit and frizzy pile of white hair, against the ‘billionaire class’ taking over the country.” The Post’s pieces didn’t lead with Clinton’s hippie past or her age (she will be a septuagenarian in 2017) and didn’t say she rails when she discusses her more ardently held positions....
Other major news organizations ignored Sanders as nearly as they could a sitting U.S. senator who entered the presidential race. ABC’s World News Tonight gave his announcement all of 18 seconds, five of which were allotted to Clinton’s tweet welcoming him to the race. CBS Evening News fitted the announcement into a single sentence at the end of a two-minute report about Clinton.
Ted Cruz, for example, received his serious, in-depth treatment in the Times’ news columns even as its analysts were writing pieces like “Why Ted Cruz Is Such A Long Shot.”Why the difference in type of coverage for Sanders versus all the others, even the fringiest fringe candidates crowded onto the running boards of the Republican clown car?
The difference is that Cruz has not erected a platform whose planks present a boardwalk of horror to the corporate class atop the media.As CJR points out, this narrative of he can't win, while it might be convenient to the corporate owners of the media and of much of the political process, has no actual historical validity at all.
I’ll skip lightly over the conspicuous fact that any frontrunner can have a Chappaquiddick, a deceptively amplified “scream,” or a plane crash. Instead, let me dwell on the simple fact that over the last 40 years, out of seven races in which the Democratic nomination was up for grabs—races, that is, when a sitting Democrat president wasn’t seeking reelection—underdogs have won the nomination either three or four times (depending on your definition of an underdog) and have gone on to win the presidency more often than favored candidates.Jimmy Carter wasn't even on anyone's radar at this point in the campaign and polled at 1 percent among Democratic voters. But he won, because the other candidates were insiders, and voters had had it up to here with insiders.
If you don’t see a parallel to the present moment—a discontented time of Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Moral Monday, Fight for $15, the People’s Climate March, Move to Amend, and other anti-establishmentarian agitation—you’re either asleep or a publisher.Likewise Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were dark horses who came out of nowhere, polling-wise, this early in the game, to win their respective races.
So, don't be so quick to swallow what your corporate media overlords are trying to feed you. Don't brush off a Sanders run as some sort of ridiculous impossibility.
As Sanders says, “Don’t underestimate me.” He's in it to win, and the history might be more on his side than the corporate media would like you to know.