Government & Politics

National tour for Bernie Sanders’ new book leads to unintended questions

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new book, “It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism,” went on sale Tuesday at such retailers as Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new book is titled “It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism.” The national tour to promote it has the Vermont independent occasionally grimacing, too.

Take Sunday, when Sanders appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” After a nearly half-hour exchange on economic inequality, moderator Margaret Brennan inquired why seats for his reading in Washington, D.C., were selling for as much as $95 on Ticketmaster.

“Aren’t you benefiting yourself from this system that you’re trying to dismantle?” the moderator asked.

Sanders’ prickly, pausing smile — something he’d bring back Monday when “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert pushed for his future political plans — spoke volumes.

Then again, the former Democratic presidential candidate, with three other books under his belt, is no stranger to the drill.

Sanders is talking up his latest title in publications ranging from the New York Times to Britain’s The Guardian and on programs as varied as NPR’s “Morning Edition” and ABC’s “The View.”

His “Face the Nation” interview touched on everything from prescription drug costs to foreign policy.

“I’m just getting warmed up,” he told the moderator 25 minutes in. “Having fun.”

That’s when Brennan asked why seats for his March 1 reading were being sold on Ticketmaster, which the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has accused of anti-competitive behavior.

“Those decisions are made totally by the publisher and the bookseller,” Sanders replied. “And we’re doing a number of free events, but I don’t make a nickel out of these things at all.”

(Penguin Random House has paid the author $170,000 for the book itself, according to his Senate financial disclosure report. His office didn’t respond to a VTDigger request for additional comment.)

Brennan inquired if Sanders was “OK doing business” with Ticketmaster.

“No, not particularly,” the senator said. “But again, I have nothing to do with that. If you wrote a book, it would probably be the same process.”

It might also trigger the same response from right-wing politicians and pundits.

“Bernie Sanders is selling tickets to his book tour, ‘It’s Okay to Be Angry About Capitalism,’” U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, tweeted. “On Ticketmaster.”

“Fox Across America” radio host Jimmy Failla punctuated the point.

“If you pay $95 to get into a lecture about being angry at capitalism,” he told Fox News, “the only thing you should be angry about is yourself.”

Moving on to “The Late Show” Monday, Sanders watched Colbert plunk the book on his desk with purpose. The host could have probed about its reflections on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack or a subsequent blizzard of inaugural mitten memes two weeks later.

“There I was with my mittens on the moon, at the Last Supper, on the Titanic, alongside Forrest Gump, on top of skyscrapers,” Sanders writes in the book.

Instead, Colbert asked when the 81-year-old senator would reveal whether he’d run for reelection in 2024.

“Do you have a deadline for yourself?” the host asked.

Sanders gritted his teeth.

“We’ve got a little while to make that determination,” he said. “The people of Vermont know me and we have a pretty good relationship, and at the appropriate time we’ll let them know.”

Colbert responded with a comic raising of his eyebrows.

“You answered that like a boyfriend being asked where this relationship is going,” the host said.

Sanders was no more forthcoming earlier Monday when CBS Mornings co-anchor Tony Dokoupil, seeing the senator’s wife just off the set, asked how the two celebrated Valentine's Day.

“I have no comment, that’s classified,” Sanders concluded with a genuine grin.

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Kevin O'Connor

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