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Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

Anyone but Sanders: The Media's Misrepresentation of Senator Bernie Sanders

On Oct. 3, an independently made compilation video about Bernie Sanders revealed to many the hypocrisy of corporate media outlets, while enlightening voters about who the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate really is.

The five-minute video, made by Twitter user @0rf and posted by popular political commentator Shaun King, juxtaposes the media criticisms of Sanders with clips showing his true character of integrity and compassion. The video has passed 6.5 million views and continues to raise interest in perceptions of the “socialist from the 1950’s,” as Jennifer Rubin from MSNBC would put it. The essence of the criticism arises from Bernie’s progressive agenda to combat the chokehold American corporations have on our democracy, livelihoods, and pockets. 

Descriptions of Sanders included “unlikeable, disheveled, and pushy,” along with arguments that he is unfit to serve, not current, and not a pro-woman candidate. Critiques of Sanders are not limited to political contributors on CNN or MSNBC. Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, scoffed at Bernie’s character while completely misleading his audience without any repercussions. While consoling a young child, Bernie stated, “I think you’re dumb if you don’t sit down and learn how to read and write … The only way I think you’re dumb, is when you think you’re dumb.” Of course, Trevor Noah’s team only included the “I think you’re dumb” portion.

These allegations matter because they have the power to shift public opinion while bearing little supporting evidence. In an era where over 60% of Americans do not read past headlines, the power of mainstream media becomes even more valuable. Naturally, when Bernie Sanders proposes to ban advertisements from televised presidential debates, overturn Citizens United, and ban corporate contributions to the DNC, among many other ideas, the establishment feels threatened. Although these networks are supposed to demonstrate unbiased discourse to Americans, media companies have their favorites. Joe Biden kicked off his 2020 campaign at a Comcast Executive’s home. Comcast, owner of NBC, along with Time Warner Cable (CNN), has also donated extensively to Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris.  

Despite the mainstream media’s criticisms of Sanders’ far left platform, his policies are in fact supported by a majority of Americans. Beginning with healthcare, Bernie’s single payer Medicare for All model, similar to other nations’ systems, is supported by over half of Americans. Sanders is calling for the legalization of marijuana along with the expungement of past marijuana convictions, both of which are supported by about 65% of Americans. His ‘socialist’ tax plan will help to reverse the extreme loopholes and injustices exploited by the top 1%. While increasing taxes for the wealthiest Americans has about 75% favorability, Bernie’s push becomes more important after the recent publishing of a New York Times article stated that the wealthiest 400 American households actually pay the lowest percentage of taxes, a measly 23%. Sanders’ proposals for tuition-free public colleges and a $15 dollar minimum wage also poll at about 60% and 66% favorability respectively; the list goes on.  

No matter your opinion on Bernie, Americans do need to address some major holes in their democracy. Do they think it’s acceptable for voter suppression, corporate donations, misleading advertisements, and for-profit pharmaceutical and energy companies to plague Congress and the environment? If a just democracy is what they are striving for, then a lot of Americans may need to contextualize and rethink their priorities. If this fundamental change arises from Sen. Sanders, then many should be pleased to support the “angry man…saying get off my lawn.” Decades from now, wherever they may be, Americans will look back on this critical election cycle and understand the oligarchical backlash towards Bernie Sanders, a warrior for working people.