Bernie Briefing: And So It Grows

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders offers a Democratic National Convention photo on his Twitter feed with the caption “Thank you, Philadelphia!”

(Editor’s note: “Bernie Briefing” has been a weekly campaign-season look at how Vermont U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is playing in the national media.)

On Nov. 14, nearly three months before the first presidential caucus, CNN offered the headline “How Bernie Sanders Has Already Won.”

“By building a movement around the issues of inequality, the plight of the embattled middle class and the outsized influence of Wall Street,” commentator David Axelrod wrote, “Sanders has pushed (Hillary) Clinton to shed her caution and embrace these economic issues, albeit with a slightly more moderate pitch, as a centerpiece of her campaign.”

On Jan. 11, nearly three weeks before the first presidential caucus, the Huffington Post offered the headline “Why Bernie Sanders Has Already Won.”

“Bernie Sanders, with his fiery passion and appeal to the better angels of our nature,” commentator Christian Chiakulas wrote, “has awakened something among the disenchanted members of the youngest voting generation that will endure long after this presidential primary season.”

On Feb. 1, nearly three hours before the first presidential caucus, Slate offered the headline “What Bernie Sanders Has Already Won.”

“In the same way that Jesse Jackson opened the door to politicians like Barack Obama,” correspondent Jamelle Bouie wrote, “Sanders may do the same for ‘democratic socialists.’ Like the veterans of George McGovern or Howard Dean, the veterans of Bernie Sanders will change and shape the Democratic Party.”

Last week, during the roll call of states at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the Vermont U.S. senator received fewer votes than the first woman in U.S. history to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

The resulting headline?

How Bernie Sanders Won In the End,” says Vanity Fair.

“By changing the party platform significantly,” magazine contributor Todd S. Purdum writes, “the Democratic runner-up will have a profound, and lasting, effect on his party.”

The man who six months ago sent out a news release titled “Why the Bernie Blackout on Corporate Network News?” is ending his campaign with the most Sunday news show appearances of any 2016 candidate, according to USA Today, topping both Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

A newly released study by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government confirms that Sanders initially lost out to the media’s obsession with Trump.

“Over the course of 2015, the Democratic race got less than half as much news exposure as the Republican race,” the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy study says.

But as Sanders began to attract press attention, “it was overwhelmingly positive in tone,” according to the analysis of several thousand news stories from CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

“Sanders’ coverage in 2015,” the study concludes, “was the most favorable of any of the top candidates, Republican or Democratic.”

The Vermonter also will be remembered everywhere from social media (take NPR’s “Bird Visits Bernie Sanders Rally, Sparks Delight On Twitter” or Slate’s “You Want to Watch Larry Sanders Cast a DNC Ballot for His Brother Bernie, Trust Us”) to “Saturday Night Live,” according to The New York Times in its story “How Bernie Sanders Left His Mark on Pop Culture.”

(Breaking news: The makers of Chia pottery planters have just announced their newest grass-roots-sprouting collectible, “Chia Bernie Sanders.”)

The candidate and his wife are capping the campaign with individual interviews. The U.S. senator, appearing over the weekend on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” says he plans to run for re-election in Vermont in 2018.

“Whatever my political future may or may not be, I will be fighting as hard as I can to stand up for a declining middle class, to take on the grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality that we’re seeing right now, to demand that the United States join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right, to make public colleges and universities in this country tuition-free,” he said. “Those are issues that we have to continue to fight for.”

Jane Sanders, for her part, tells Rolling Stone that her husband also will work to convince voters of the importance of supporting Clinton. (A potentially uphill challenge, as evidenced by the Politico story “Sanders Delegates Fault Bernie for DNC Chaos.”)

“His choice was to endorse,” Jane Sanders says, “but, at the same time, fight like hell to keep the revolution alive, and keep alive the issues that we all stand behind. So we need (our supporters). We need them engaged, and we need them to participate. And whatever they decide, it’s their conscience, and they should decide whatever they want. Our job is to defeat Donald Trump; our conscience says we can’t have that.”

(Her husband added Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “I would ask of my supporters to get away from the personality conflicts that media tries to bring forward and focus on the real issues impacting the American people. And when you do that, I think the choice is pretty clear, and that is that Hillary Clinton is far and away the superior candidate.”)

And so six months after the start of this let’s-try-it-for-a-few-weeks feature, “Bernie Briefing” is signing off.

Or is it? This just in from the International Business Times‎: “How to Write In Vermont Senator for President on November Ballot.”

Kevin O'Connor

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  • Bob Hooper

    if only those early Southern primaries could ask for a do over…. that may indeed be telling. THANKS BERNIE… you did us proud.

    • robert bristow-johnson

      Bob, i dunno that South Carolina would do it any differently.

      more so, straight-talking Bernie, consistent Bernie, speaking-truth-to-power Bernie, keepin’-it-positive Bernie, Spirit-descending-upon-Bernie-like-a-humbler-bird-than-a-dove Bernie.

      did Vermont proud.

      Texas produces the likes of Tom DeLay, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and The Abomination (W).

      Vermont produces the likes of Aiken, Leahy, Jeffords, Dean, and Bernie. (and gotta mention Welsh.) big state of Texas produces quantity with crappy quality. little state of Vermont produces “Compassionate Pragmatic Liberalism”.

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