Monday, May 18, 2015

Will the media let Bernie Sanders talk about real issues?

By Richard Barry

In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders expressed concern about the way the media is likely to cover his nomination contest against Hillary Clinton and potentially others.

"Are you in the media prepared to allow us to engage in that serious debate?" he said. "Or do I have to get media attention by simply making reckless attacks on Hillary Clinton or anybody else? I don't believe in that. I believe in serious debates on serious issues."

Sanders said he personally likes Clinton. He said he's willing to challenger her on policy issues -- but that he hopes media will cover those differences without Sanders having to launch "reckless attacks."

As for that serious debate, Sanders raised the left's fight against income inequality and took an unfortunately reckless shot at Clinton for being late to the struggle.
"It's one thing to talk about it. It's one thing to act on it," the Vermont senator said during an interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar aired Sunday on "State of the Union."

Sanders also discussed his own efforts to challenge Wall Street, his advocacy of universal health care, and his opposition to "disastrous trade agreements" like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

He was particularly critical of Clinton's unwillingness to take a position on the trade deal, which has been pushed hard by President Obama.

"You can't be on the fence of this one," he said. "You're either for it or you're against it. No fence-sitting on this one."

So, of all the substantive issues Sanders noted, what do you suppose CNN Politics picked as its headline? It was "Sanders Casts Clinton as Newcomer in Income Fight." It was his least substantial comment, and admittedly a somewhat petty remark, but also the one most likely to stoke resentment instead of promote debate on the part of Hillary Clinton.

If Sen. Sanders really thinks the media is interested in a serious debate between himself and Mrs. Clinton, he should prepare himself for disappointment.

And a note to Bernie Sanders. If you make a crack like saying Clinton is a latecomer to the income equality issue, that will always be the headline. Political professionals always know what the headline will be. This is the big leagues.

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