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In keeping with the long-standing tradition of going back and analyzing the media’s manipulation of public opinion after they have already done their damage and it doesn’t matter anymore, I wanted to follow up on a nasty little piece about Paul Krugman I published last week. After it ran, it occurred to me that it might have been unfair to have singled out Mr Krugman as I did, because he was really just one of the many corporate mouthpieces smearing Sanders and his supporters with accusations of racism in order to discredit and help neutralize any kind of populist anti-neoliberalist sentiment on the so-called American Left.
Smearing one’s opponents with such virulent accusations (i.e. racism, anti-Semitism, extremism, et cetera) is, of course, incredibly effective, especially when the smear-campaign is being waged by a host of respectable establishment media outlets who are all barking in tune like an immense chorus of outraged elephant seals. So here are a few examples of that from other quarters, in the interest of fairness to Mr Krugman.
In one of the Washington Post‘s sustained barrage of negative Sanders pieces, Jonathan Capehart, explaining “Why Bernie Sanders will rue his ‘deep South’ dismissal of black voters,” notes that:
“The argument from the Sanders camp is that Hillary Clinton won in conservative ‘deep South’ states that Democrats will never win in November. To Sanders supporters, this makes a lot of sense in explaining why their progressive candidate was pushed aside by a more conservative electorate. To the African American voters who fueled the double-digit ballot beat-down Sanders suffered in those states, it is baldly dismissive.“
Which sounds almost convincing, except for the fact that the Sanders camp wasn’t explaining why Sanders lost in the south; they were making the case that his losses in the south wouldn’t matter in the general election, because these southern states consistently vote Republican. So that’s a pretty good trick, as long as your readers aren’t really paying attention, or they can’t see the difference. (I sincerely hope Mr Capehart wasn’t implying that African American voters are incapable of parsing that distinction … because that would be, you know, racist.)
Further on, a morally horrified Mr Capehart — literally “slack jawed” over the actor Tim Robbins’ incendiary speech introducing Senator Sanders — quotes Mr Roberts scolding the media for their incessant repetition of Mrs Clinton’s “inevitability” narrative thus:
“After the Southern primaries, you had called the election. And who’s fooling who? Winning South Carolina in the Democratic primary is about as significant as winning Guam. No Democrat is going to win South Carolina in the general election.”
What do you think? Does Mr Capehart honestly believe the “insignificance” Mr Robbins has in mind refers to African Americans, as voters, or human beings, rather than to the State of South Carolina as a factor for the Democrats in the general election?
Moving on to the Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk, II, who feels that “Sanders’s problem isn’t that the South is too conservative; but that the region is too black,” informs us that:
“[d]uring Thursday’s debate with Hillary Clinton, [Sanders] repeated a point that has recently gained prominence in his own remarks and the echoes of his surrogates: That an early front-loading of primaries in the South ‘distorts reality’ and that the South is not a vital part of the Democrats’ national coalition.“
To date, I have not been able to locate any statements from the Sanders campaign to the effect that the South is not “a vital part of the Democrats’ national coalition,” although I have found several statements noting that southern states tend to vote Republican in general elections. But whatever, it sounds pretty sinister, that whole “not a vital part of the coalition” thing, right? Mr Newkirk then deduces from his own made-up attribution that:
“[w]ith that sentiment comes a bit of a deeper implication. The minority voters of the South might not be a part of his plans moving forward.”
Jesus! Who knows what horrible racist forward-moving plans this Sanders character has in mind.
Meanwhile, back at The New York Times (where Krugman the Magician is warming up), Charles Blow, warning us that “Sanders dismisses the deep South,” feels that:
“[i]t also must be pointed out that there is a racial dimension to Sanders’ dismissal, however inadvertent it is. In general, the Southern states that Sanders says “distort reality” have some of the highest percentages of African-Americans in the country.”
Well, that pretty much proves it — if the Sanders campaign notes that the Democratic presidential candidate is not going to win in the general elections in the south, and there are a lot of African Americans living there … well, how much more evidence of racism does one need?
These are just three examples from the print media. A quick Google search will provide many more. Add to that television, radio, social media and word-of-mouth … and before you know it you’ve got quite a powerful echo chamber going.
As I mentioned above, none of this really matters to Senator Sanders and his supporters anymore, now that the media (and the immutable laws of mathematics) have announced that they are one big, all-white, hacky sack-playing bug splat after getting creamed in New York. Still, it is awe-inspiring to watch the corporate media at work.
I can hardly wait for this year’s feature presentation, wherein Mrs Clinton and her neoliberal buddies save us all from Hitler … again.