Despite Sanders Leading in Polls, Corporate Media Say He Has “Flatlined”

Polls have opened in New Hampshire for the first primary of the election season. The vote comes eight days after the still-disputed Iowa caucuses, where both Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg claimed victory. Both candidates have asked for a partial recanvass of the results. We speak with Arnie Arnesen, a longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire and a former New Hampshire legislator, and Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which is supporting Bernie Sanders.

TRANSCRIPT

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Norm Solomon, I wanted to ask you about the whole issue of the turnout. Obviously, Iowa was a disappointment in terms of what the expectations were, to the degree of enthusiasm that many of the organizers expected. What’s your sense of how this particular vote will occur today, and especially the issue of turnout?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, what I saw yesterday, for instance — I’ve been to close to a dozen candidate events in the last week or so. Yesterday I went to one that was for Biden in the biggest city in the state, here in Manchester. And if Joe Biden hadn’t been responsible for so many deaths of so many people in Iraq and elsewhere through supporting war, through supporting a neoliberal agenda, I would have almost felt sorry for him, because the turnout was so scant. And you had this feeling of a campaign falling apart for Joe Biden.

I also was out in a small town, the Franklin Pierce University, elsewhere in the state. Bernie just rocked the house with a multicultural, young audience of students. And it was powerful. And he was talking about climate. And he was talking about student debt. And you could feel the emergence of a new consciousness, if you will, among a new generation. And so, there was this sort of transcendent feeling in the room.

And then, last night I went to Exeter High School, a public high school, where Pete Buttigieg spoke. And it was massive. The turnout was just incredibly large, especially for not a big urban area. I would guess 500, 600 cars in the parking lot, couple thousand people there. And the enthusiasm was there.

And so, I think that speaks to the vectors of the turnout, where the bottom is falling out from the Biden campaign, and Bernie has a very strong base, and juiced up by corporate media that are not looking at the content of what Buttigieg is putting forward, there’s a tremendous amount of hype that is catching on, at least in this state, in terms of the grassroots or some of the grassroots for Buttigieg. And I think it’s very important for not only progressives, but others, wherever you’re coming from politically, to see that what Buttigieg is doing is swinging to the corporate center. He’s done it all year. But in the last three days, he’s emerged as a technocratic spokesperson for austerity. He’s an austerity technocrat. And he’s speaking for a back-to-the-future obsession with deficits, cutting into the potential for anything like a Green New Deal. And that is part of the choice that’s in front of the voters today.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, I wanted to ask you, Norm. The media coverage nationally — and I don’t know how much you’re covering it, because you’re out on the streets in New Hampshire right now — is just astoundingly — the corporate media — I’m not talking about Fox, I’m talking about MSNBC and CNN — so anti-Bernie it’s just remarkable. Yesterday I think one of the commentators used the term — let’s see, let’s talk about all the candidates. “Bernie obviously has flatlined at number one,” they say. “Flatlined at number one.”

ARNIE ARNESEN: Flatlined.

AMY GOODMAN: I was trying to think, “How do you say ‘number one’ in a negative way?” “Flatlined,” so there’s nothing to talk about. “Amy Klobuchar, she has really risen in the polls,” at something like 4 to 7%. And then they talked about the “Amy surge.” And I’m just wondering. I mean, today on MSNBC in the morning, they’re right there in Manchester. Trump had just spoken, and there was Bernie at a rally of 7,500 people. Of the six people in their little circle, none had been to Bernie Sanders’ event last night —

ARNIE ARNESEN: Of course not.

AMY GOODMAN: — which was not far away. But they had been many different places. And as John Heilemann was talking about, you know, very significant, 7,500 people at Bernie’s rally last night, Mika Brzezinski said, “Yeah, but who knows if any of them are from here?” or something like that, “if they’re from here,” you know, from New Hampshire. And this is a clip of MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD: I want to bring up something that Jonathan Last put in The Bulwark today, and it was about how — and, Ruth, we’ve all been on the receiving end of the Bernie online brigade. And here’s what he says. He said, “No other candidate has anything like this sort of digital brownshirt brigade. I mean, except for Donald Trump. The question no one is asking is this: What if you can’t win the presidency without an online mob? What if we now live in a world where having a bullying, agro social media army running around popping anyone who sticks their head up is either an important ingredient for, or a critical marker of, success?”

ANDREA MITCHELL: Wow!

RUTH MARCUS: OK, that’s for —

CHUCK TODD: I know everybody’s freaking out about this, but you saw the MAGA rally that’s preparing around here. There are people coming from three or four states on that. That’s real. And, you know, that is a — this is like Bernie.

RUTH MARCUS: That is a really depressing sentence that you just read.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, if you could comment? That was Chuck Todd of MSNBC.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, I would boil it down to a five-year corporate media assault on Bernie Sanders. There was a notorious one-day period that FAIR, the media watch group, documented on the eve of the pivotal Michigan primary in 2016, where the newspaper owned by the richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post, published 16 negative articles about Bernie Sanders in 16 hours. And that pattern has continued. And what we’ve seen in recent weeks, as Bernie’s strength has risen, is an escalation of the war on Bernie, not a 100% war on Bernie, but the vast preponderance of coverage of Bernie from corporate media.

And people need to remember that if you, for instance, don’t trust Comcast, why would you trust a network that is owned by Comcast? These are class interests being worked out where the top strata of ownership and investors hires the CEO, hires the managing editors, hires the reporters. And so, what we’re seeing, and not to be rhetorical about it, but we really are seeing a class war underway.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Oh, absolutely.

NORMAN SOLOMON: And Bernie Sanders is very clear about who he aligns with. He aligns with working people. He aligns with the elderly. He aligns with children who need neo — and before that, neonatal care and nutrition, 1 to 5. He is fighting for people who don’t have power in the society and suffer from lack of power. And he’s fighting against those who have too much power. And so, the net effect is, it’s not only the Democratic National Committee that Bernie is up against. I think, even more significantly, the Bernie Sanders campaign, which now I think truly is a movement, or a constellation of movements — the Bernie Sanders campaign is up against the oligarchy. And that oligarchy’s biggest and strongest arm are the corporate media outlets.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and come back to this discussion. We’ll be also joined by Molly Crabapple. Arnie Arnesen is joining us from New Hampshire, as is Norm Solomon of RootsAction.org. Stay with us.