A central premise of conventional media wisdom has collapsed. On Thursday, both the New York Times and Politico published major articles reporting that Bernie Sanders really could win the Democratic presidential nomination. Such acknowledgments will add to the momentum of the Bernie 2020 campaign as the new year begins—but they foreshadow a massive escalation of anti-Sanders misinformation and invective.
Throughout 2019, corporate media routinely asserted that the Sanders campaign had little chance of winning the nomination. As is so often the case, journalists were echoing each other more than paying attention to grassroots realities. But now, polling numbers and other indicators on the ground are finally sparking very different headlines from the media establishment.
From the Times: “Why Bernie Sanders Is Tough to Beat.” From Politico: “Democratic Insiders: Bernie Could Win the Nomination.”
Those stories, and others likely to follow in copycat news outlets, will heighten the energies of Sanders supporters and draw in many wavering voters. But the shift in media narratives about the Bernie campaign’s chances will surely boost the decibels of alarm bells in elite circles where dousing the fires of progressive populism is a top priority.
For corporate Democrats and their profuse media allies, the approach of disparaging and minimizing Bernie Sanders in 2019 didn’t work. In 2020, the next step will be to trash him with a vast array of full-bore attacks.
Along the way, the corporate media will occasionally give voice to some Sanders defenders and supporters. A few establishment Democrats will decide to make nice with him early in the year. But the overwhelming bulk of Sanders media coverage—synced up with the likes of such prominent corporate flunkies as Rahm Emanuel and Neera Tanden as well as Wall Street Democrats accustomed to ruling the roost in the party—will range from condescending to savage.
When the Bernie campaign wasn’t being ignored by corporate media during 2019, innuendos and mud often flew in his direction. But we ain’t seen nothing yet.
With so much at stake—including the presidency and the top leadership of the Democratic Party—no holds will be barred. For the forces of corporate greed and the military-industrial complex, it’ll be all-out propaganda war on the Bernie campaign.
While reasons for pessimism are abundant, so are ample reasons to understand that a Sanders presidency is a real possibility. The last places we should look for political realism are corporate media outlets that distort options and encourage passivity.
Bernie is fond of quoting a statement from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
From the grassroots, as 2020 gets underway, the solution should be clear: All left hands on deck.
Norman Solomon is the coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org…