Newsflash: Sanders’s Strength of Character Hurt His Campaign

Bernie Sanders
Reading Time: 2 minutes

On Sunday, The New York Times published an extremely important, insightful and well-reported piece explaining in detail why Bernie Sanders’s campaign has had such problems winning delegates, in spite of the clear public enthusiasm for his core message, and basic doubts about the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

Despite the merits of that article, what really struck me were two profound deficiencies:

– How very late the paper was in putting this information together — instead of earlier, when it could have had more of an impact, and

– That the key revelations are needlessly buried in that long article, diluting their impact .

So here’s the news:

Bernie Sanders’s potential victory in the Democratic presidential nominee race was seriously handicapped by… Sanders’s moral strengths:

– He felt a serious obligation to serve as an active senator, and was reluctant to be AWOL from Washington too often.

– He was opposed to personal attacks in politics, and therefore, for a long while, rejected opportunities to criticize Hillary Clinton where she was highly vulnerable.

But don’t take my word for it. Hillary Clinton’s own supporters essentially make that point. And they make it in such a blunt way that one comes away realizing how very soft her own support is, even within the Democratic establishment.

Why did The New York Times, with all its resources and connections, wait until it was almost too late to have any impact before revealing how, in the cynical election sweepstakes, Sanders’s basic strengths became weaknesses?

Had The New York Times and other big media stressed how well Sanders’s essential nature resonates with the American public — instead of constantly suggesting he could not win — the electoral math already would be different.

In addition, had the Times and other media not failed to communicate news of Sanders’s track record on issues of interest to the public — like his early involvement with civil rights — then Sanders would potentially be in far better shape already, perhaps even ahead.

Even worse, when Sanders did well, these establishment news entities consistently underplayed that.

To be sure, it is not the job of journalists to aid one candidate over another. But it is our job to level with our audience, and let them know what the heck is actually going on — and why.

In other words, the real story of Bernie Sanders’s difficulties is not something the media can report at arm’s length. Because the media itself is the story.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Bernie Sanders in viewfinder (Phil Roeder / Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.

print

11 responses to “Newsflash: Sanders’s Strength of Character Hurt His Campaign”

  1. spktruth200 says:

    The corporate media is nothing but propaganda sham. In March 2015 the DNC and 33 Democratic state chairs met to create the Hillary Victory Fund…this fund would permit billionaires, lobbyists, etc, deliver money without question. Those super-delegates running for office or for re-election would get money from that fund to run their campaigns…the only thing that had to do is: give her your super-delegate vote…that’s what is not being reported.

  2. Peter Rock Favazza says:

    Oh I see now it is suggested that the New York Times is responsible for Bernie’s campaign problems? Really? Exactly when should they have called Bernie and advised him of his strength of character hurting him problem? Is it the job of a news entity to advise contenders? The job of the press is to ask the tough questions and report the news, not be part of making the news or anyone’s political career. That stuff is for the editorial and opinion sunday diatribe from all our esteemed news media outlets, and everything I read here has been touted by uncountable sources ad infinitum.

  3. J C says:

    That “good” NY Times “reporting” missed the role the NY Times played in trivializing and hiding Sanders all during the fall of 2015.

  4. Lynx 2000 says:

    Thank you for this article. I have been wanting someone to call out the MSM on their Bernie coverage for a while. Although the Washington Post is far worse, the NYT should have been above the petty political reporting they have done this season. I guess although my faith in the WP had sunk long ago, I was still holding out some hope that NYT was fair and unbiased. This election just killed any hope I had left for them.

  5. Kevin says:

    Bernie Sanders’s “strength of character”?! Is this another April fools article, Russ? Is it really so wonderful that he’s “opposed to personal attacks in politics” when he’s also voting for murdering people overseas?

    He supported the war in Kosovo.

    He voted for the Iran Freedom Support Act, which codified sanctions imposed since the fall of the Shah and handed out millions to “pro-freedom” groups seeking the overthrow of the Tehran regime

    He pushes for the Saudis (with their human rights record) to basically take control of the Middle East. He cites that they have the 3rd largest military budget in the world (all purchased from the US, btw) and that they “have to get their hands dirty” (aka troops on the ground).

    He opposed the Iraq war but then routinely voted to fund it. Same with Afghanistan. He also voted against establishing the Department of Homeland Security but also continually voted to fund it (and its ever expanding budget).

    He voted against the Patriot Act but in 2006 he voted in favor of making fourteen provisions of the Act permanent.

    He voted for a resolution hailing Dubya “for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.”

    Regarding the F35 fighter plane which has had technical problems plus cost almost twice the initial estimated cost projected by Lockheed Martin, Bernie says the program is “incredibly wasteful” but “I believe we should strive to protect the Vermont Air National Guard’s mission and maintain hundreds of jobs here in Vermont.” In short, he supports an overpriced death machine because its good for jobs in his home state.

    Bernie Sanders – a man with “strength of character”!

    As far as that previous sentence, “this is satire”.

    • Lynx 2000 says:

      First of all, everything you listed is either false or very misleading. Like him voting to fund the war was actually him voting to make sure our soldiers who were already there had adequate food and medical supplies. But secondly, even if all you said were true, do you not think that all of the other candidates have records far worse than then skewed Bernie record you mentioned? Hilary and Iraq, Libya, Hondoras, Kissinger relationship, TPP, Wall Street money, etc etc?

    • Kevin says:

      If what I wrote is “either false or misleading” then correct me on each point and educate us all.

      As for your question “other candidates have records far worse”, I think they all have terrible records and none of them are good. But even if Sanders is “the least bad” (and I’m not saying that at all btw), that doesn’t make him “good”. If our choices were Stalin, Hitler and Mao, would you say “one has a much better record than the others?”

      In short, I find it disappointing that WhoWhatWhy would try to portray Sanders as having “strength of character” for some minor thing like being “opposed to personal attacks in politics”. Ask the foreigners who are being bombed if they take any solace in that.

    • J C says:

      The USAF is going to get a replacement for the F16.

      The later versions of the Patriot Act were highly modified.

      Kosovo came at the end of a long civil war, in which peace had NOT broken out.

    • Kevin says:

      I don’t accept your reasoning that “the USAF is going to get a replacement for the F16”. Seems to me like he supported it because it meant jobs for VT. Is that really a principled guy?

      As far as the Patriot Act, part of the fourteen provisions of the Act he voted to make permanent was to give the FBI authority to seize business records and carry
      out roving wiretaps. In short, more surveillance, less freedom!

      As far as Kosovo, do you really favor humanitarian interventions? Sure it sounds nice but would you send your kids off to die for something like that? If so, there are plenty of such issues going on around the world all the time. Feel free to sign yourself up for duty first.

    • spktruth200 says:

      a bold faced lie.

  6. (Comment by @charlamanesbane) They aren’t reporting the news. They’re manufacturing the outcome that serves them best. What a failure of Fourth Estate Democracy.