One of the interesting features about Bernie Sanders’s rise in the Democratic race is that in addition to the panic that it is causing in the party and media establishments and the oligarchy, one also senses a deep sense of puzzlement. In a political and media environment that has been dominated by political and media consultants who carefully polish and market test the image and words of candidates, how can a cranky, disheveled, old person who calls himself a socialist be generating such enthusiastic support across such a diverse population, especially the young?
I think that it is precisely because he has rejected that model that he appeals to people because they sense that he is authentic. When he is asked a question, you do not get the sense that his mind is racing to find some focus-group tested response that will gain support while alienating the least number. He just speaks his mind, even if that means annoying his interlocutor by dismissing stupid questions, like his response to Anderson Cooper at a town hall who asked him after New Hampshire whether he considered himself the front runner. Sanders grimaced and replied, “Who cares?”
Anand Giridharadas says that the ruling classes do not understand what is happening in and to ‘their’ country, as can be see in how they are completely baffled by this phenomenon. He says that as a result, they are behaving like out-of-touch aristocrats in a dying aristocracy, railing at events that they no can longer control.
This is genius.
Watch this: https://t.co/a3oBDrPn7k
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 23, 2020
I think the Nevada results where Sanders crushed his rivals was a wakeup call for many journalists. It is noteworthy that some in the mainstream media are now challenging their colleagues to rethink the way they view things and accept realities and modify their narratives accordingly. Dan Froomkin writes that the influential Margaret Sullivan, now the Washington Post media writer and formerly the public editor of the New York Times, is one of them and she joins Naomi Klein and Giridharadas in making this call.
Naomi Klein, whose writing so effectively champions social, economic and ecological justice, called on the mainstream media to dispel rather than spread “the barrage of lies” about democratic socialism. “Journalists make choices at key moments in history,” she wrote, “they aren’t mere spectators.”
This should be a time to take stock. To reconsider whether core journalistic values are being served by arguably anachronistic methods like “neutrality-at-all-costs,” as Sullivan wrote. To ask if our most dominant news organizations are sleep-walking through “a wake-up moment for the American power establishment,” as Giridharadas said. To rededicate to the most essential job of journalism, which, as Klein put it, is to “educate people.”
I already see signs of a slow but seismic shift in some quarters. This positive movement will be balanced by the increasingly hostile reaction of those who are terrified by the threat that Sanders poses to the ruling power structure and will try to stop him at all costs.