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Nader, Chomsky, Salon and Biden

Salon ran an article on Ralph Nader this week, written by Chauncey DeVega, a politics staff writer for Salon.

It was typical Nader.

On corporate crime, Nader said this:

“As things get worse in America, criminally bad in fact, big business gets stronger. That is the trend. It did not happen in the 1930s, by the way. It didn’t happen in the 1960s either. But big business counterattacked and they took control of Congress. Congress is the only tool left to take on gigantic corporations and the corporatocracy and its criminal, omnicidal behavior.”

“One would think that more of these progressive groups would focus on Congress? No. They put out exposés. They denounce corporate crime on Wall Street. They have marches and all the energy goes up into the ether.”

What wasn’t typical was the headline of the article.

It read: Ralph Nader’s election wisdom: “In the swing states, you have to vote for Joe Biden.” 

Embedded in the article was an audio of DeVega’s podcast conversation with Nader, upon which the article was based.

According to the original audio of the podcast, Nader didn’t say “In the swing states, you have to vote for Joe Biden.”

Instead, he was quoting Noam Chomsky.

DeVega says to Nader: “You’ve got Chomsky, so many folks on the left, real liberals and progressives on the left proclaiming that — we have to put aside our differences and support Biden against Trump.”

“I’m not openly supporting Biden,” Nader says. “You have got to oppose Trump. The electoral college makes it simple. What Chomsky says is that in the red and blue states you can vote Green, but in the swing states, you gotta vote for Biden. I believe people should only vote their conscience. They should only vote for the people they believe in. If you vote the least of two evils, the worst evil ends up dominating the least evil. If you vote for the least of two evils, if you vote for a Democrat, who has won the elections in the last twenty years, who has won most of the state and national and local elections?” (Hear original audio clip here.)

But then a few hours later, an edited audio appeared embedded in the story.

Cut out of the original audio?

“What Chomsky says.”

In the audio now, Nader is heard saying the quote that appears in the headline: “In the swing states, you have to vote for Joe Biden.” (“This conversation has been edited for clarity and length,” Salon editors say under the new audio.)

“I was describing Chomsky’s position,” Nader says now. “That’s not my position. There are many ways to fight and defeat Trump both inside and outside the electoral process. People should follow and act on their conscience. Salon should immediately correct this headline and distorting deletion in the interview.”

After the Salon story ran, Nader came under attack on social media from Green Party and other Nader supporters.

“Nader ran for president saying he didn’t care if his campaign caused a Democratic loss,” wrote Margaret Kimberly, an editor at Black Agenda Report. “Now he says vote for Biden if you live in a swing state. Most American ‘leftists’ are like him. Blame them for Democrats’ self-inflicted wounds and they fold like cheap lawns chairs.”

Another person put it bluntly: “Imagine saying vote your conscience, but don’t vote your conscience in the same sentence.”

A third wrote: “You’re not helping when you endorse the establishment war criminal Biden.”

DeVega defended the article saying that to his ear, it appeared as if Nader was supporting Chomsky’s position.

“It sounded like a reiteration to me,” DeVega said. “It sounded like when he was saying vote your conscience, he was saying — vote for Biden to defeat Trump.”

“As I heard it, Nader was saying yes to what Chomsky said. To my ear, he was reiterating what Chomsky was saying,” DeVega said.

DeVega said he edited the original audio because it was redundant and there was crosstalk.

(As we were about to post this article, the headline on the Salon article was changed to: Ralph Nader on Trump’s corruption, “corporate state fascism” and why Democrats keep losing. But the body of the article still quotes Nader as saying – “But in the swing states, you have to vote for Joe Biden.”)

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

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