NBC’s Chuck Todd, moderator of perennial Sunday morning talk staple, Meet the Press, is the king of the uninspired lead. My partner Bob, normally a soft-spoken man, is driven to shouting, obscene distraction by Todd’s softball questions and lazy reporting. As the ultimate Washington fan boy, Todd is less the impartial informative journalist and more the selfish political card collector covering the personalities and topics he finds interesting. But what can you do? MTP has been on the air for 68 years. Despite a post-Tim Russert decline in both quality and ratings, the show remains a television destination for figures on both sides of the spectrum, as well as high-profile media pundits. Anyone attempting informed positions on current events and the election cycle has to put in their time.
Knowing this is often not enough to restrain the natural flow of outrage stemming from some of Todd’s aforementioned leads. To categorize them as utter fluff seems an insult to marshmallows and clouds. And so it was that my head nearly exploded when I heard the following at the top of the Meet the Press hour yesterday morning:
“With three weeks to go until the voting begins, our new polls in Iowa and New Hampshire are out and don’t look now, but we have a real race on the Democratic side.”
Todd was speaking of results from two new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of likely voters from Iowa and New Hampshire. The latest data shows Hillary Clinton with just a three-point lead over Bernie Sanders in the Hawkeye State. Meanwhile in Granite territory, Sanders is ahead of Clinton by four points. So yes, it is clear we have a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination. My question for Chuck Todd and the rest of the mainstream media: but haven’t we always? Why is conventional wisdom and corporate marketing so quick to count out Bernie?
It has been almost a year since the long-time, Independent Senator from Vermont announced his candidacy for President of the United States. On April 29, 2015, Sanders officially threw his hat in the ring with remarks in front of the Capitol. At the time, a CNN/ORC poll placed his support at just three percent amongst Democratic voters.
A lot has changed over the last nine months, a truth to which Sanders is happy to call attention even if mainstream media and the DNC would prefer to pretend otherwise. He’s also not afraid to highlight his prospects against the competition should he progress past the convention. The candidate said this to an American Legion hall crowd in Iowa last week:
“My opponent [Clinton] says this is an important issue; she is the person who can win the general election…I respectfully disagree. Look at which candidate is doing better against Donald Trump. Look at the last national poll and you find that Bernie Sanders is beating Donald Trump by 13 points, Hillary Clinton by seven points.”
So what gives? Why is that until this past weekend, every time the general election is discussed it’s “whomever gets the GOP nomination versus the presumptive front runner Hillary Clinton?” Up to the final pre-primary moment, when Sanders has simply become too forceful to ignore with too little time left to swat him away, it’s been all Clinton – with repeated, systematic and it seems, collusive ignorance of the data.
Public fear and misinformation regarding the word “socialist” have been part of the mainstream media’s refusal to take Bernie seriously. And that cowardice should not be confused with real reporting. When it comes down to it, Sander’s platform messages on education, family rights, and economic imbalance resonate with the majority of Americans – regardless of political stripe. And I’ve already written about the DNC’s thinly veiled agenda in ensuring 2016 is the Year of Hillary.
I’ve also observed that on a bipartisan basis, Americans agree that we don’t want the media or the supposed political authority telling us who gets our vote. Sanders’ surging poll numbers are a testament to the disregard for talking heads, political strategists and their cynical program of information management. Democrats are Feelin’ the Bern and Hillary Clinton may be in for another 2008-like rude primary awakening.