Democratic Debate #2 Reveals Media Bias

The second Democratic debate has, for all intents and purposes, been swallowed whole by events unfolding in Paris.

Nevertheless, there is much that can be gleaned from what was a substantive discussion among grown-ups, quite unlike the vaudeville performed on Republican debate stages.

I thought Martin O’Malley stepped forward rather effectively this time.

It is interesting that, as was the case with the first Democratic debate, the conventional media seems to be awarding the ‘win’ to Hillary Clinton, mostly because she already has a substantial lead in the conventional polls and didn’t commit a huge blunder on stage. They place Bernie Sanders second and O’Malley a distant third.

Quite to the contrary, it appears that alternative media and online polls give it to Bernie by a landslide, followed not shabbily by O’Malley, with Hillary  the distant third.

Being a creature of the blogosphere, it probably isn’t surprising that I agree with the latter analysis.

What this disconnect tells us about the state of Democratic politics follows at least the leitmotif of their Republican counterpart.  Democrats are a party divided.

Advancing deregulation and globalization have consolidated conventional media under so few corporate owners that they could all be counted off on a single hand; and Citizens United has sealed the deal on corporate ownership of the public platform.

Corporatist media will of course look more favorably on the conventional candidate who represents their own interest and investment; and this bias will carry through, more or less unconsciously, in the ‘talent’ they hire and the analysis they trust.

It is the way of the world.

The fact that there is an ‘alternative media’ to test this presumptive arrangement is such a recent scenario that there has been little opportunity for the corporatist interests to secure the paddock gates.

Make no mistake about it; if the whole battle over ‘Net Neutrality’ ends badly for us, it will result in full message coordination, based on corporate interests alone.

2016 could be our last opportunity to see a truly independent candidate like Bernie on the debate stage, whose widespread appeal can still be easily tracked online, despite the fact that he vigorously spurns participation in his campaign by big money PACs.

Did you ever think you’d hear, on the stage of a major party debate, discussions of socialism,  free college tuition, healthcare as a human right, penal reform, a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens, legalizing marijuana and raising taxes on the rich?

Did you ever think the spouse of Bill Clinton would go so far as to style herself a ‘progressive?’

All these things are possible thanks to the populist support for Bernie Sanders, which you only know about thanks to the current situation of net neutrality.

I’ve gone on much longer than I had intended to before getting to what I thought was one of the most important take-aways from the evening.

With the Paris attacks not even fully in the rear view mirror, CBS was eager to shape the debate into a showdown over who would be toughest on ISIS.

After an awkward start, Bernie pivoted to the domestic platform which he earnestly commands; he refused to be distracted from his messaging mission. He knows how little time he has to energize his base for the revolution that is so badly needed.

Nevertheless, when he returned later to talk of ISIS and war in general, ably assisted by Martin O’Malley, he reminded Sec. Clinton and the audience of what exactly had precipitated the state of eternal terrorism in which we now find ourselves. Recognizing the folly that lay ahead, he voted against the Iraq invasion, whereas Hillary voted for it.

They both had the same information to rely upon, yet it was Hillary alone of the candidates, who followed Bush into a never-ending war.

While Hillary touted her experience with warfare in the past, both he and O’Malley pointed out that what is required in the face of twenty-first century terrorism is not a cumbersome and hugely overfunded machine of twentieth-century warfare, but a nimble and freshly conceived approach addressing the asymmetric threat all around us.

The U.S. military is something like three times the size of all the rest of the world’s military combined! Deploying conventional military assets to fight such an unconventional enemy amounts to using a steamroller to squash a swarm of flies around a sleeping dog. They’ll just scoot out of the way and its the hapless dog who will take the brunt…or, in the case of Syria, the innocent civilian population.

You probably won’t read a lot about that conversation in the conventional media because they are only concerned with whether or not Hillary did any damage to what they regard as her ironclad lock on the nomination.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

13 thoughts on “Democratic Debate #2 Reveals Media Bias

  1. You stated a lot of my views about corporate media and the future of free speech (intertubes, etc.) The gates may be closed as the corporatists continue to try to control the FCC, or barring that just being selective of what packets they allow through.

    Reflecting my personal paranoia about gaming the system, I could see operatives trying to push one of the opposing candidates to to front because they (the operatives) have something they can use to torpedo the final election. Imagine if all liberals really supported Ted Cruz (for a nightmare situation)?

    1. Read your column and disagree with you. Do you think this country will have Bernie Sanders as the nominee of the Democratic Party? He has NO foreign policy knowledge, which was so glaringly evident in debate #2. He spoke for a few seconds about the Paris attacks and quickly changed to railing against Wall Street and multi-national corporations, like Ben and Jerry’s for instance. Does he not realize that all people who have a 401K or a pension of any kind for the future, have it all invested in Wall Street? Does he really want to destroy Wall Street? Free college tuition? It will never, ever happen. No foreign policy experience whatsoever. No Black support. No Hispanic support. Hearing that the middle class will be taxed at a higher rate – will they vote for him? NO!!!
      Martin O’Malley had a pretty good night, but Baltimore is his mess. The poverty and the gun violence there is abhorrent. What did he do? Hillary won the debate and Bernie lost again. This campaign now has turned from the economy, Wall Street, like Bernie wanted, to foreign policy. All he can say is that Hillary voted for the Iraq war and everything since then is her fault. What more did he say about future foreign policy for our country? NOTHING.

      1. I think, if you listened carefully, you would have heard that both he and Martin O’Malley pointed to the need to rethink our 20th century military interventionist strategies that have cost this nation a fortune and only exacerbated the spread of terrorism.

        I heard only the same-old, same-old from Hillary, which always sounds patly confident, but is just blowing smoke if there aren’t entirely new strategies on tap.

        In the wake of the Paris attacks, we need nimble leadership advised by a different kind of strategists. Whoever the nominee is, he or she will have to embrace that fact.

  2. All great points, Sue. What I wonder is how Bernie can play his strongest card more forcefully and more often, and that is: campaign finance. Yes, the “disappearing middle class” remains the central pillar of Bernie 2016, but the argument gets complicated fast, and it’s hard to explain during a debate.

    But reminding people repeatedly that Hillary owes her political life to Wall St banks, and that Bernie is funded in $30 increments by 750,000 people — that’s easy to grasp. It’s the populist version of Trump’s main calling card: No one owns me.

    It’s the most powerful thing Bernie can say. He just needs more creative ways to bring it up, over and over again.

    1. It is hard to explain during a debate; especially in one minute increments.

      That’s why the power of Bernie’s message is best delivered off the debate stage.

      I respect him, though, for refusing to be lured off-message by the headline of the day.

  3. As Bernies campaign has taken off a few question marks reappear in thought bubble. One was the near refusal to makeover or even broaden his message to include more issues relevant to a larger voting bloc more in tune with national election issues. In claiming ‘climate change causes terrorism’ displays no problem tying world events to his message no matter how far-fetched.

    Another ? is the extreme avoidance of the public in general, and visceral hatred for the press of whom some attacks are junkyard dog-like, and faaar in excess of the legendary grouchyness. And, he always angrily barks the same line, that they are not asking “substantive questions” both of which are troubling and a pretext for his gutteral attacks imho. The other ? was stubborness in dismissing BLM – finally discovered there are ppl in this world who will not give his grumpiness a pass and after Sat hopefully sees a few more.

    Although pols have a love-hate relationship with press, they are mostly eager to be quizzed & queried as this is an opportunity to get their own message out while honestly answering as few questions as possible, then dodging every real issue, which has become an art form for both interviewer and interviewee, every news junkie knows this. Which for me yet another ? became increasingly curious — why was Bernie not taking advantage of this huge asset and free publicity for own talking points?

    For me the light came on following the Sat debate. Paris attacks brought an unexpected slight but legitimate change of venue, mere segue to current events. And with the change – opportunity for each candidate to display ability to be flexible, agility in political gear-shifting, showcase foreign policy acumen or…in Bernies’ case…lack of all three which are Poli-Sci 101.

    Bernie oddly averse to veering off own talking points and message. Though not terribly unusual, only comfortable in own zone is not something public officials can easily maintain.

    Fact that the other two had no problem very telling. He and camp still had hours to conjure something – Bernie’s not exactly a political boor. Fighting this pure folly and all the more telling. But the complete ferocity told most of all – discomfort on match with HRC foreign policy discussion and lack of insight. Stubbornly sticking to format foolish move.

    Bernies one-trick-pony grasp of issues and johnny-one-note message reveal a resume that’s extremely thin. This is what I believe to be underneath it all – bluff and bluster serve as cover for inability or unwillingness to talk at the same length and with the same ease as HRC no matter how much of it is actually true – she can at least talk up a good game and has a command of the basic issues and facts.

    Rather than scaring away the press it would behoove Sanders to study up on ”substantive issues” which he’s had plenty of time to do and have ready answers for hard questions. He’s certainly smart enough but time will tell whether he’s up to the challenge. But this will leave him very open and a weakened position if the sleeping dogs awaken.


    1. You make a good point, but looking back on Bernie ‘s mission ever since the beginning of his career, he wants his time front and center in the public eye to be spent primarily on inspiring the ‘revolution’ he speaks of. That is his purpose in seeking the presidency.

      No matter who wins, the president is pretty much always just a figurehead who defines the broader agenda and inclinations of an entire administration, hopefully comprised of experts in all kinds of areas.

      Senator Sanders is keenly intelligent and has been active in Congress long enough to have a pretty good grasp of foreign policy matters. Sec. Clinton may have served as Sec. of State, but if the experience has not opened her eyes to the need for a complete rethinking of conventional military interventionism, she has not emerged from that position as a particularly superior candidate for commander in chief.

      Bernie knows that if we don’t make a more equitable world for youth at home, we could one day be facing a violent cultural upheaval that will make us long for the days when our only enemies came from far away places.

      1. “Stardust” made excellent points about Bernie Sanders. The words he uses are totally wrong – “revolution”, “socialism”, those words scare many people in our country. Do you think that senior citizens (who vote in large numbers) want to hear that? He seems to be talking to young people most of the time, and I hope he realizes that many young people go to rallies, but do not turn out to vote. And he is counting on them to win a primary.
        Bernie has his talking points. He does not listen to any suggestions and it is obvious he does not listen to those that help with debate prep. If he ever listened, he would have done much better with foreign policy. He has been stumped by the horrible Paris events. The bombings were not caused by climate change. We all laughed during the debate, when he bellowed that out.
        Multi-national corporations (like Ben and Jerry’s that is donating a lot of money to him) did not cause the bombings. He had time to study, as “Stardust” wrote, but obviously did not want to change his talking points he had memorized. George W. Bush used to do that too, and look what we lived with for 8 years.

  4. Actually, the climate change remark was on the money and has been recognized by many experts. Crop failures and natural disasters across the world have intensified competition for survival, providing fertile ground amidst the resulting poverty and unrest for recruiters from ISIS and other less familiar terror movements.

      1. Yes the report is valid as his basis however swing voters as well as nontruebelievers will not buy anything percieved as questionable.

        CIA are not climatologists and many are wary of the science including myself, however there are many other valid and great reasons for pushing renewables.

        Much of the blame for ME instability points to this regime and HRC imo. Disaster caused by the reckless regime run by old guard starring W as puppet prez complete incompetence was made worse by Obama and incompetent HRC.

        Too bad Bernie was so distracted by own talking points therefore unable to hit her record where it would do the most damage. Paris could have been tied to present regime and HRC.

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