Monday, January 24, 2022

Journalistic Diversion

Democrats made a good start on Sunday- and it wasn't by a Democrat. On CNN's State of the Union, Dana Bash seemingly asked (at 2:08 of the video below) Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)

Here we are, one year into the Biden presidency- those two key priorities are stalled in the Senate, the social spending bill and climate bill, the election reform legislation. It's because of senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won't get on board. How frustrated are you?

This was less a question than a statement. Bash's point was that progress is being blocked by two Democrats, from West Virginia and Arizona.

Sanders got off on the right track by responding

Well, it's not only those two. It's fifty Republicans who have been adamant in not only pushing an anti-democratic agenda. but also by opposing our efforts to try to lower the cost of prescription drugs, try to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and eyeglasses, to improve the disastrous situation in home health care, child health care, to address the existential threat of climate change.

You've got fifty Republicans who don't want to do anything except criticize the President and then you have, sadly enough, two Democrats who chose to work with the Republicans rather than the President and who have sabotaged the President's effort to address the needs of working families in this country. 

"It's fifty Republicans" and "you've got fifty Republicans," states the Independent who is typically more a Democrat than are most Democrats. Subtly bashing Democrats as well as Republicans- CNN's twist on "fair and balanced"- Bash claims the two Democratic priorities are being stalled because of two Democrats. The fifty Republicans- 50 out of 50- who oppose both pieces of legislation are neatly disappeared by the news host.  Instead, she targets the 4% (two out of 50) of members of the Senate Democratic caucus who are standing in the way.

The Vermont senator continued

Is it frustrating? It sure is but my view, Dana, is we need a new direction, a new approach, in the Senate. I think after six months of negotiating, so-called negotiating, we need closed doors with Manchin and Sinema. We need to start voting. We need to bring important pieces of legislation that impact the lives of working families, right on to the floor of the Senate and if Republicans want to vote against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, climate change, whatever it may be and if the Democrats (or two Democrats) want to join them, let the American people see what's happening, then we can pick up the pieces and pass legislation. But the current course of action..... 

Even after recommending a "new approach" to persuading Manchin and Sinema, Sanders still knows to lay primary responsibility upon Senate Republicans: "if Republicans want to vote against...."


The question posed by Bash represents terrible journalism, and media personalities need to recognize they are being used. If Senate Republicans stand united- as they do on almost all pieces of significant legislation- they need only one Democrat to break ranks with his/her own party.  That results in either the bill getting watered down into virtual nothingness or being killed outright. If the latter, Republicans and the media are enabled to complain that Joe Biden specifically or "the Democrats" generically are ineffective and incapable of governing.

Much of the media, in this case a CNN host, then blames Democrats generally or certain Democrats by name. That plays out as a distinction without a difference because voters conclude that the Democratic Party cannot get out of its own way and is useless at best.

One of the members of the Democratic caucus was having none of it on Sunday.  Others should do the same. The irony, of course, is that the individual standing up for our one pro-democracy party actually is not a registered Democrat.

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