Media critic Jeff Cohen says two days of Washington Post editorials attacking Sanders show we can expect more attacks on Bernie by the corporate media
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome back to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. And I’m speaking with Jeff Cohen. Jeff is a director for the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and he was the founder of the media watchdog FAIR. He’s also the co-founder of RootsAction.org. And in segment one I was speaking with Jeff about the Iowa primaries, the results, and what the various candidates, actually the two Democratic candidates, had to say last night. And we were unpacking that. So if you didn’t see that, go watch that. And on this segment we’re going to deal with the media, how media covered the Iowa primaries, as well as the endorsements that media is–many of them are giving to Hillary Clinton, like the New York Times. So Jeff, welcome back. JEFF COHEN: Nice to be with you. PERIES: So Jeff, let’s dig right into this. The New York Times came out on Sunday endorsing Hillary Clinton, that is the editorial board of the New York Times. What do you make of that? COHEN: Totally expected. What we’ve had at the New York Times, and most of the corporate mainstream media, is the traditional Gandhi quote, attributed to Gandhi. It’s also been said by early feminists and labor leaders. First, they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they attack you. Then you win. And you know, at first it was ridicule–at first it was ignoring. And you might remember that when Bernie Sanders announced he was running for president, the announcement in the New York Times was on a back page, very small, page A-21. And when a lot of these Republicans one after another was announcing for president, they got big, front-page coverage in the New York Times. In Iowa, Bernie’s 50-50. And he was on the back page of the times. These Republicans who walked away with one, two percent of the vote in Iowa, they got front-page treatment. So I think what’s happened is it started as ignoring, it went to ridicule, and now the New York Times is going to come out for Hillary editorially. The Washington Post ran two editorials in two days attacking Bernie. And the first editorial was an utter doozy, basically defending Wall Street status, and saying that the big banks are now safely regulated, suggesting that Bernie is a demagogue when he talks about Wall Street. So we’re definitely moving into this state where you can expect the corporate mainstream media to be on the attack. The important thing for activists, and the kinds of people that get their news from the Real News, to understand is that this problem plaguing Bernie, the bias against Bernie, well, it’s long-standing that in mainstream media you’ve had a narrow spectrum of views, political views, among the punditocracy. It goes from the center to the right, from corporate centrist Democrats to the far right. It’s a spectrum no broader than from General Electric to General Motors. A corporate spectrum. So in all of these discussions in the week leading up to Iowa, we’re going to see it in the week leading up to New Hampshire. You have a lot of these people on the panels that are big supporters of Hillary Clinton, like [inaud.] who’s associated with one of Hillary Clinton’s superPACs. But they have panel after panel on CNN, on MSNBC, on the Sunday politics shows, where there are supporters of the right wing, supporters of Hillary Clinton and corporate centrism, but there’s no one who’s an unabashed supporter of Bernie Sanders. And if I were an activist seeing that, I would immediately go and protest to these media outlets, now that it’s a 50-50 campaign in the Democratic party, you can’t have defenders of Hillary and no defenders of Bernie. But that’s what mainstream TV news has been doing. PERIES: And yesterday you were telling me offline that you were actually flipping through the different channels, watching almost all of them and how they were covering it. How did they fare in Iowa? COHEN: It got better and better as it became clear that it was a tie. And I think they were stunned. The people that dominated mainstream TV, as I say, they go–they’re a spectrum. That’s Hillary Clinton supporters on the left wing, and I put that in quotes, to the far right. And I think they were stunned. I think, you know, it’s not Bernie, it’s this huge movement, has shaken up the establishment. And I watch the nightly news every night, I watch cable news every night. And they were stunned. And it’s, it’s an amazing thing to see the mainstream media pundits that are a little bit speechless, because they like to yammer. PERIES: And so moving forward, for the New Hampshire primaries coming up on Tuesday, Jeff, what should we be looking out for in terms of media coverage? COHEN: I think it will be more of an attack on Bernie’s policies and a lot of smears. You know, there’s always talk about the $15 trillion over ten years that’s going to go to healthcare, Bernie Sanders’ single-payer. What they don’t point out, they use the figure from the economist Mr. Friedman, from University of Massachusetts. What they don’t point out, even though they use Friedman’s number, is when Friedman says, the economist, if you don’t go to Bernie Sanders’ single-payer, healthcare will be even more expensive. It’ll be more like $20 trillion over ten years. So expect attacks on Bernie’s policy. One of the funniest ones was in the Washington Post. I’m sure it’s going to be hauled out again. As everyone knows, and it’s hugely popular among young people, Bernie Sanders wants to provide free public college education, and he would do that by a very popular tax on Wall Street transactions. Which not only raises billions of dollars every year, it also reins in speculation a little bit. So it’s hugely popular. What did the Washington Post say about that? It would lead to colleges playing by government rules. Unquote. And it’s–you know, again, these attacks on Bernie’s policies, which are, finally progressive policies are being heard by millions and millions of U.S.–members of the U.S. public. They’ve got to distort them. Everyone knows that public colleges are already heavily funded by states. And I know a lot of college professors at these colleges. They’re not worried about government rules, especially the ones that have tenure. They’re not worried about more taxes going to public education. They’re worried about cuts in taxes, which is leading to an undermining of public college education. So to have the Washington Post–and it was a news article, allegedly. You know, an editorial disguised as a news article. To have them claiming that Bernie Sanders’ programs will lead to government control of colleges, it’s laughable. And that’s what you can expect leading up to New Hampshire and right after. PERIES: All right. Jeff, I hope you join us for some of that coverage next week. COHEN: Sounds good. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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