Don't look now, but while people in both parties seem to be too busy screaming at Hillary Clinton to just go away and die or something because nobody likes a political loser while simultaneously running against her in November, it seems that political loser Bernie Sanders is getting accolades for pulling a Trump TV.
The Vermont senator, who’s been comparing corporate television programming to drugs and accusing it of creating a “nation of morons” since at least 1979 — and musing to friends about creating an alternative news outlet for at least as long — has spent the last year and a half building something close to a small network out of his office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.
He understands, but resents, the comparison to the man who’s described the news media as the “enemy of the people.” His take is different, and he has his own plans. “[Am I concerned] that people might see me and Trump saying the same thing? Yes, I am,” Sanders conceded, leaning back in a leather chair in a conference room in his office on a recent Tuesday, as footage of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony one building over played on TVs throughout his office. Wearing his standard uniform — long tie, jacket in need of a few swipes with a lint roller — he launched into the critique now familiar to anyone who’s watched one of his rallies. “My point of view is a very, very different one. My point of view is the corporate media, by definition, is owned by large multinational corporations: their bottom line is to make as much money as they can. They are part of the Establishment. There are issues, there are conflicts of interest in terms of fossil fuel advertising — how they have been very, very weak, in terms of climate change.” Needless to say, the content he produces is not sponsored by advertisers.
Sanders hosts an interview show (“The Bernie Sanders Show”) that he started streaming over Facebook Live on a semi-regular basis after his staff got the idea in February of 2017 to film the senator chatting with the activist Rev. Dr. William Barber. After they posted that simple clip and it earned hundreds of thousands of views with no promotion, they experimented with more seriously producing Sanders’s conversation days later with Bill Nye.
The chat with the Science Guy ended up with 4.5 million views. Sensing an opportunity, the next day Sanders’s aides turned down multiple network TV requests and took his response to Trump’s first address to Congress directly to his Facebook page.
Things escalated. Audio recordings of his conversations, repackaged as a podcast, have since occasionally reached near the top of iTunes’ list of popular programs. Sanders’s press staff — three aides, including Armand Aviram, a former producer at NowThis News, and three paid interns — published 550 original short, policy-focused videos on Facebook and Twitter in 2017 alone. And, this year, he has begun experimenting with streaming town-hall-style programs on Facebook. Each of those live events has outdrawn CNN on the night it aired.
“The idea that we can do a town meeting which would get a significantly larger viewing audience than CNN at that time is something I would not have dreamed of in a million years, a few years ago,” Sanders says.
The result is a growing venue for Sanders’s legions of backers, and other curious progressives, to take in tightly curated lefty takes on policy news — one that, increasingly, competes directly with more traditional news outlets for eyeballs. There’s little room for minute-by-minute analysis of White House drama or Robert Mueller’s probe — and no panels full of opining “strategists” — but also little room for dissent. The scale is unmatched by any other politician, inviting obvious questions about whether Sanders plans to pivot it into a massive primary campaign-mobilization machine come 2020. But the mainstream media criticism implicit in the venture also invites obvious comparisons — if equally stark contrasts — to the man crying “Fake news” at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
It's weird how Sanders is not only allowed to do this but encouraged to do it, something that if Hillary Clinton had tried would be trashed by approximately 90% of America as "fascist propaganda" and "hate speech" by 60% of America. If Hillary went online to do this, we'd have GOP legislation regulating political speech on the internet by the end of the month.
And yes, there's the problem where Sanders freely admits that American media should be viewed as the untrustworthy enemy "establishment" and bypassed completely in favor of Sanders getting his "direct message" out to the people.
There's a fair number of people who want to hear Bernie's message, but it seems that on the Left, only he's allowed to have a message. Everyone in the Democratic party is already automatically suspect, and that's his real message. You can't trust the party, you can't trust the media, you can only trust me.
That's also Donald Trump's current message.
I do not care for it.