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FOCUS: Tensions Between Bernie Sanders and MSNBC Boil Over
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=51217"><span class="small">Hanna Trudo, The Daily Beast</span></a>   
Wednesday, 24 July 2019 11:46

Trudo writes: "The mounting tension between a leading progressive presidential campaign and a leading progressive cable news network has reached a new peak."

'Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and MSNBC have always had a complicated relationship.' (photo: Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos Getty)
'Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and MSNBC have always had a complicated relationship.' (photo: Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos Getty)

Tensions Between Bernie Sanders and MSNBC Boil Over

By Hanna Trudo, The Daily Beast

24 July 19

The Vermont senator’s campaign sees the cable news network as part of a brewing problem that allows vague and unverified claims to go unchecked on air.

he mounting tension between a leading progressive presidential campaign and a leading progressive cable news network has reached a new peak.   

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and MSNBC have always had a complicated relationship. Sanders, a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination, has long questioned the news media’s biases, while pundits have taken fresh shots at the Vermont senator this cycle. But officials in Sanders’ campaign contend that leading up to the 2020 election, the network is one of several cable news outlets directly contributing to a media climate where false claims go unchecked and requests for progressive voices on-air are frequently turned down. 

“More often than not these commentators are injecting their opinion without any policy discussions,” Nina Turner, the national co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, told The Daily Beast. “They’re not there to tell the gospel truth.”

The backlash from Sanders-world reached a new high on Sunday, when MSNBC analyst Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York and occasional contributor to The Daily Beast, launched a personal critique of Sanders during a segment with host David Gura, saying that he makes her “skin crawl” and that he’s not a “pro-woman candidate.”  

“Bernie Sanders makes my skin crawl,” Rocah started when discussing the lineup for the upcoming Democratic debate in Detroit, where Sanders will share a stage with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “I can’t even identify for you what exactly it is. But I see him as sort of a not pro-woman candidate,” she continued. "So, having the two of them there—like, I don’t understand young women who support him. And I’m hoping having him next to her will help highlight that.”

Rocah’s comments—which multiple campaign officials contended went too far—were part of a larger issue they see brewing, where the fact-checking process appears to be largely removed from the day-to-day political discourse among some commentators and hosts.  

“It takes a certain kind of woman to ignore that education, healthcare, and the economy are women’s issues too. #privilegedmuch? This is not what intersectional feminism looks like. It’s corporate feminism at its finest. Full stop,” Sanders’ national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray wrote on Twitter.

“Here we go again.. It is so belittling to constantly tell young women that they HAVE TO vote for someone JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE A WOMAN. Mam, we have brains, we're voting on policy and a candidates vision + work, not their sex. This is #WhiteFeminism at its finest,” Belén Sisa, Sanders’ Latino press secretary, tweeted.

A senior campaign aide said the campaign believes there are possible biases in the network, but instead of shunning MSNBC they’ve been aggressive in getting their people booked. Sanders has been on the network at least nine times this cycle, granting multiple interviews to hosts Chris Hayes, Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle, and Al Sharpton, among others. He has done at least the same amount of appearances on the network as he did in the first six months of the 2016 election. 

Still, a separate campaign official said there’s only a small handful of guests closely aligned with Sanders who regularly appear on the network, and that while they’re hopeful more will be added as the field narrows, their suggestions thus far have been largely turned down.

To help supplement that, his campaign has taken steps to create new chances for independent public exposure, including creating a live-streamed show, “The 99,” that runs twice per week and a new podcast called “Hear the Bern” produced by Gray. 

Officials agreed that the more Sanders appears on major news networks, the better chance he has to make his case to the public. But that increased exposure also comes with a perceived bias among hosts and commentators, officials cautioned. 

“It doesn’t even have to be ‘rah rah rah, Bernie Sanders!’” Turner said, pointing to Zerlina Maxwell, an MSNBC political analyst and former official on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign who shared the segment with Rocah. “Just someone who would push back.” 

After the segment aired, Turner personally asked women to share stories detailing why they support Sanders, saying that while she wasn’t surprised in the volume of responses she received, the depth of personal accounts women chose to divulge connected to Sanders’ policy platform was compelling.

“Their voices matter just as much as Mimi’s,” Turner said. “They may not have a platform on MSNBC, but their voices matter.” 

A spokesperson for MSNBC seemed to dismiss the campaign’s claims, without mentioning Sanders by name. “A presidential campaign complaining about tough questions and commentary speaks for itself,” the spokesperson said. “Our anchors and analysts are doing their jobs: discussing day-to-day developments that have an impact on the race.”

But Sanders’ campaign argues the incident was not isolated. “There’s no effort to push for fact-based analysis,” one campaign official told The Daily Beast. “Cable news allows that sort of spin to exist in the world in a way that doesn’t get checked.”

The official said that when contributors on the network engage in more robust policy discussions, including shortly after Sanders gave a speech on Medicare-for-all, the campaign reached out to the network to push for several fact-based corrections, a standard practice among presidential campaigns. 

“It’s a full-time job,” the official said of the back-and-forth dialogue with the network. 

For all the campaign’s gripes with the left-leaning news network, there’s early indication that his message is going over better with an ideologically opposite cable news network. A recent Morning Consult poll found that Fox News viewers are more likely to support Sanders than those who prefer to watch MSNBC. According to the survey, 22 percent of Fox News viewers who identified as possible Democratic primary voters said they would back Sanders, as opposed to 13 percent of MSNBC viewers. That statistic was bolstered further by Sanders’ ratings during his own town hall appearance on Fox News, where more than 2.5 million viewers tuned in to hear Sanders make his case, according to Nielsen data. 

A source with direct knowledge told The Daily Beast that Sanders recently called Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to have an off-the-record talk.  

This comes as the top MSNBC hosts said Sanders’ Democratic socialist platform would give Trump an upper hand in a possible match-up. 

“My God if you’re afraid to say you’re a capitalist,” Scarborough, who recently criticized Sanders’ general tone and temperament, said. “Let me let you in on a little secret. If that is a crisis for your party, you’re gonna lose in 2020.”

Addressing Scarborough’s comments directly, frequent MSNBC guest Donny Deutsch said he wanted to “take it one step further” with his own hypothesis: “A socialist candidate is more dangerous to this country as far as the strength and wellbeing of our country than Donald Trump,” he said. 

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+100 # SusanT136 2019-07-24 11:59
Bernie is a big threat to the corporatocracy. Keep in mind MSNBC is owned by ComCast. I think the oligarchs view him as a huge threat as he’s authentic. Bernie needs our support.

I love Elizabeth Warren also, but Bernie is my first choice.
+3 # Freddy 2019-07-26 13:23
Quoting SusanT136:
...Keep in mind MSNBC is owned by ComCast....

Indeed, a key point. And Biden held his campaign kick-off at the estate of a Comcast executive. Coincidence that MSNBC is denigrating Sanders? I think not...
+65 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-24 13:00
The premise of this article is wrong:

" a leading progressive cable news network "

Later MSNBC is called "he left-leaning news network." MSNBC is neither progressive nor left leaning. It is a 5th column among people who are progressive or left leaning. MSNBC fired Ed Schultz precisely because he would not stop talking about Bernie Sanders. It fired Phil Donohue. It also fired African American news reporters and replaced them with FOX hosts.

No network with someone like whiney weapons lover Brian Williams or Rachel Maddow can be called progressive. They are right wing democrats who are much closer right wing republicans. The nation is run by right wing republicans and democrats. To call one of these progressive or left wing is only a verbal category, as if republican and democrat must be opposites. If repubs are right then demos are left. In reality and on MSNBC, they are just the same.

What is happening here is that MSNBC seems to have been appointed at the lead anti-Sanders news organization. It will originate and disseminate hate Sanders speech in increasing doses from now up to the 2020 election.
+9 # dandevries 2019-07-25 19:54
And when was the last time anybody dared say on any network that Herr Drumpf made their skin crawl? Which his very existence ought to for any sentient being on this or any other planet.
+32 # John Cosmo 2019-07-24 14:05
You really can't honestly say that MSNBC is "progressive." It's neo-liberal Pravda. Hanna Trudo blew it this time.
+25 # dascher 2019-07-24 14:08
Is Sanders in the running? Given the press blackout and the cheerleading for Biden and to a lesser extent Warren (not to mention the silly short lived swoons for Beto and "Mayor Pete") I would think most Americans think Sanders died or dropped out of the race. At this point, he'd have to drop his pants during the next debate to get any kind of coverage. Forget about coverage of his policies.

It appears that there are some serious barriers for an "unsexy" candidate who is running against the oligarchy to overcome to get his or her messages to the people.

Perhaps Bernie needs to use more tweets? and hyperbole?
+25 # rural oregon progressive 2019-07-24 17:16
Sanders warned early in his speeches that MSM and Cable News were all going to be obstacles to his campaign for all of the reasons stated by commenters on this thread. We have noticed headlines for the past 4 weeks from Politico and others who ignore Bernie when writing about current polls. The headlines go like this "Biden continues to lead, Warren improves her position in third"; and in one poll where Bernie leads, and Warren was second, the headline was "Warren jumps to second". Most MSM and pollsters loathe even mentioning Sanders... It is kind of like the old story of the two foot-racers in a two person race. When the favorite-son won the race, the headline from the hometown of the challenger proclaimed "Favorite to win race finished next to last, while our town's challenger finished second!!!". Expect more of the same from MSM and Cable News when it comes to Bernie.
+21 # hectormaria 2019-07-24 14:27
Hello! Capitalism leads to: worker oppression and suppression; economic hierarchies- that is classism; highly disproportionat e wealth distribution; outright greed; Prosperity Gospel- actually worship of Mammon; consumer exploitation; affluenza defense for the rich because of the two systems of justice that's engendered; gender pay inequality; eventually oligarchies and fascist governments. People, you might get rich somehow but DON'T BET ON IT: remember the rich gets richer and you will be stuck surviving paycheck to paycheck. Capitalism is NO PANACEA; the best economic system is a MIXED one- which is the one we have, but must be improved upon.
+43 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-07-24 14:32
Bernie is a threat to the status quo. Nuff said.
+45 # USADUDE 2019-07-24 16:28
MSNBC is far from progressive or left leaning. Comcast fired Mellisa Harris Perry a brilliant woman who educated her viewers about many things and was clearly of a progressive mindset. The snide comments about Bernie are frequent and never rebutted. The misrepresentati ons are present every time his name or a policy is mentioned. They never mention Bernie’s plan to pay for Medicare for All it’s always implied that “How are we going to pay for Medicare for All isn’t thought out.” The big corporations are afraid of a tax increase or policy that actually puts living breathing human beings first instead of the corporate capture of our country. Notice corporate capture is never mentioned as a problem on MSNBC or CNN and certainly not on Fox or the 3 big networks. The entertainment industry and infotainment segment are instrumental in the spreading of propaganda and diverting attention away from important facts and information needed to be an informed citizen of a democracy. The capture of the Democratic Party by the once Moderate Republicans who got run out of the GOP when the billionaires and evangelicals cleaned house as that party became radical even fanatical. So we have two right wing parties and a government run for the benefit of the corporations and the top 1%. What are we going to do about it? “The peaceful political revolution begins between your ears.” Get to work and “Keep it peaceful.”
-4 # coberly 2019-07-24 20:55
i agree with all of the above. But here is a thought experiment: if you could get health care for all, guaranteed, for a premium you could afford, with the government controlling costs and guaranteeing paying for it yourself. Would you, or would you still demand "the rich" pay for it?

I hope to be able to vote for Bernie. But this is a point he does not understand. Very likely you won't either.

As things go, the left shoots itself in the foot by demanding the rich pay for everyone's needs, when "everyone" could pay for their own needs through a Social Security type of insurance program.

I doubt very much the Right rich are honest, but i think you could get the honest rich to agree with you about most policy if you didn't always "demand" the rich pay for it.

Then you'd have to explain everything to the "racists." Harder but not impossible since it is to their benefit. And once they understand that they will stop being racists.

+10 # Lgfoot 2019-07-25 13:48
Bernie's plan would raise taxes on everyone, not just the rich, to pay for healthcare for all Americans, like responsible governments in civilized countries generally do. Bernie stresses the extent of the obligation of the rich because they have been squeezing the proceeds of American production to extract close to 90% while leaving Bernie's beloved working class with "the crumbs".
I am shocked at Mimi Rocah for her entirely personal attack on Bernie. There is nothing sexist about Bernie. She is dissembling for Comcast's directors.
+9 # lfeuille 2019-07-25 00:18
MSNBC is progressive only compared to FOX. It sold its soul to the DNC a long time ago.
+14 # treerapper 2019-07-25 04:24
Sure MSNBC is progressive - they are progressively moving from the Center to the Right. And, Ms. Rocah should check her personal bias index before talking utter rubbish. You'd be hard pressed to find a more pro-woman candidate than Bernie and that's not just new news, that's Bernie's story from way back. A silly news outlet with not much to say other than what they can make up.
+1 # Salus Populi 2019-07-25 08:13
A network that hosts Rachel Maddow cannot by any stretch of the dictionary meaning of the word be called "left-leaning," or even "centrist," even in the U.S. standard connotation of the latter word, which in the rest of the world would be considered Reaganistically right-wing.

None of the candidates has a foreign policy view that challenges U.S.ian exceptionalism [not even Tulsi Gabbard, and certainly not Sanders, both of whom take for granted that the U.S. has the right under at least some circumstances to interfere with other countries' sovereignty, and critique only individual adventures as unwise or self-defeating] ; but still, even by the hypocritical standards of U.S. public discourse, where war criminals and professional liars, thugs, and schemers like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper are given six-figure salaries by the "objective" news media to pose as "independent" analysts and commentators, Maddow stands out. In the illegal and lethal sanctions regime being directed against the people of Venezuela for choosing Maduro in what Jimmy Carter called the fairest and most transparent election he had ever observed -- which sanctions make up one of the most blatant power-and-resou rce grabs and illegal aggressions since the heyday of Teddy Roosevelt -- Maddow actually called on arch-interventi onist and war lover Bolton to take off the gloves and get on wuth violently overthrowing the regime, and stop being a pussycat. MSNBC and CNN are fascist warmongers, pure and simple.
+11 # David Starr 2019-07-25 08:48
Like others here, I take issue with Hanna Trudo's claim that MSNBC is progressive and left-leaning.

But as Trudo writes, "... officials in Sanders’ campaign contend that leading up to the 2020 election, the network is one of several cable news outlets directly contributing to a media climate where false claims go unchecked and requests for progressive voices on-air are frequently turned down."

And as mentioned by others here, MSNBC has fired Left/Progressiv e commentators. That is a telling sign of how "progressive" MSNBC is.
+8 # diamondmarge7 2019-07-25 21:07
I hope and pray that Bernie, Tulsi, and Marianne find many other ways to get their message out. They are the only ones who have a vision for returning to democratic progressive roots.
anyone who taks corporate cash is or will become another corporate whore. I'm looking @ u. E Warren. BERNIE has been fighting for ALL of us for 40 yrs; Tulsi addresses need to rein in war; Marianne has an holistic brilliant vision of America. Yang deeply cares.thinks/de signs. Flush the others!
0 # NAVYVET 2019-07-27 14:50
Why would they call MSNBC "progressive"?? That's nonsense! The Guardian is the only major Progressive news outlet that I know of as a potential Home Page.