MSNBC Talks Up Socialist Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Announcement

Contrary to the media reaction in March when Ted Cruz announced that he was seeking the presidency, the extremist label has hardly been applied to self-avowed Democratic-Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders as he prepared to launch his 2016 campaign with an event in Vermont. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats in the U.S. Senate, is running for the Democratic nomination.

While the mainstream press frequently labeled Cruz radical, dangerous, and slimy, no such words were used to describe the Vermont Senator on the May 26 edition of The Rundown with Jose Diaz Balart. In fact, guests Mark Murray and Steve Kornacki both gave rather glowing reviews of Sanders, trumping up his ability to get to a one-on-one race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. 

Balart stated that a lot of candidates run for president “to bring attention to themselves,” but that did not seem to be the case for Mr. Sanders. Murray claimed that he will be viewed as the “happy warrior” in the race, one who will be able to focus on the issues he values the most: 

Yeah, it’s a totally different type of campaign Bernie Sanders is running. You’re right, Bernie Sanders is probably going into this realizing that he won’t be sitting in the White House come 2017, but what he wants to do is put his issues first and foremost, to be able to talk about income inequality, talk about campaign finance reform and do it as the happy warrior in the 2016 field. Just as long as his ideas are ones being talked about, he feels like he's making progress. 

While Balart did note, fairly, that Sanders’ brand of politics is a “non-starter in national elections,” Kornacki – host of MSNBC’s Up – suggested that Sanders has a Bidenesque charm to him that will help him stay in the race:

I think that the trump card here for Bernie Sanders in terms of his appeal is the authenticity. It’s the sense that hey, here's this kinda of rumpled, disheveled guy. He’s got a grumpy personality and means what he says. He’s not – he’s sort of the antithesis of the packaged political candidate. And I think there's a sense that maybe that kind of personality – sort of anti-charisma charisma –  could catch on. 

Kornacki insisted that – given his current polling – Sanders may have the best chance of anyone not named Hillary: 

But when you look at that goal of a one-on-one race with Hillary Clinton, of a contrast between Sanders and his brand of economic populism with Hillary Clinton and everything she represents, the odds of him getting that are not actually that bad. I think he’s actually fairly well positioned on the Democratic side at least potentially to have a shot at that. 

Other than Balart’s brief mention of Sanders’ politics being unpopular nationally, not one of the three analysts bothered to point out the Vermont senator’s radicalism. For the left-wing media, extremism can only come from one side of the aisle. 

The relevant portion of the transcript is below. 

MSNBC
The Rundown with Jose Diaz Balart
May 26, 2015
9:17 a.m. Eastern

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, host: What can we expect from Bernie Sanders today?

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC political reporter: Morning, Jose. Well, it will be a very Vermont day here on the shores of Lake Champlain. This is actually a park that Bernie Sanders helped build as mayor of this city. Around 5 o’clock we’re gonna have a big rally. Just over to my left here there will be free Ben and Jerry's ice cream, there will be music from a band called Mango Jam, which is apparently one of the best Zydeco bands around. Bill McKibben, the big environmentalist, also a Vermonter, will be here. 

And there will be a lot of people turning out. This is a guy who has been a known quantity here. He ran his first political campaign in 1971, has won about a dozen times since then, lost many others as well. One other small event today, around 2:00 p.m., a lot people who are involved in the Occupy Wall Street  movement and are now  supporting Bernie Sanders will have their own rally and then will march down here to join the official event.  

BALART: So, Mark, a lot of people who run for president in the early stages do it for a number reasons, sell books or bring attention to themselves or something they really believe in. I don’t get that's the sense from Senator Sanders. 

MARK MURRAY, NBC News senior political editor: Yeah, it’s a totally different type of campaign Bernie Sanders is running. You’re right, Bernie Sanders is probably going into this realizing that he won’t be sitting in the White House come 2017, but what he wants to do is put his issues first and foremost, to be able to talk about income inequality, talk about campaign finance reform and do it as the happy warrior in the 2016 field. Just as long as his ideas are ones being talked about, he feels like he's making progress. It’s worth noting that Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic field by some 40 to 50 points in all national and state polls. But Bernie Sanders has the potential more so than the Martin O'Malleys and Jim Webbs and Lincoln Chaffees to really be the person who becomes Hillary Clinton's top Democratic challenger.

[...]

BALART: Steve, let’s start with you. You look at Sanders’ brand of politics, it's essentially a non-starter in national elections. What is he trying or what is he going to try to achieve starting today? 

STEVE KORNACKI, host of Up: Well, Jose, I think the basic goal here if you had to thin it down would be to emerge as the chief rival to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. When you look at it from that standpoint, when you put aside, you know, the bottom line odds of Bernie Sanders becoming president in 2017 are not very good. But when you look at that goal of a one-on-one race with Hillary Clinton, of a contrast between Sanders and his brand of economic populism with Hillary Clinton and everything she represents, the odds of him getting that are not actually that bad. I think he’s actually fairly well positioned on the Democratic side at least potentially to have a shot at that. 

You look at a couple of things here working in Bernie Sanders’ favor. First of all, if you look at the polls right now, sure, Hillary Clinton is way out in front. She’s 40, 50 points ahead of everybody else. But when you look at the other Democrats who are in the race, Bernie Sanders right now is getting more than all of them combined. So he comes into this thing with a bigger base on the left. And I think, if you talk to his people, what you hear is a sense that the issues that Bernie Sanders has been talking about throughout his entire career, talking about income inequality, wealth concentration, even climate change. These are things that have really come into focus in the national debate in the last 5 years or so. So the debate they think is moving in Sanders’ direction. 

The other candidates, even if you look at Hillary Clinton and some of the moves she’s made, are moving in that more Progressive direction on economic questions. And ultimately, I think that the trump card here for Bernie Sanders in terms of his appeal is the authenticity. It’s the sense that hey, here's this kinda of rumpled, disheveled guy. He’s got a grumpy personality and means what he says. He’s not – he’s sort of the antithesis of the packaged political candidate. And I think there's a sense that maybe that kind of personality – sort of anti-charisma charisma –  could catch on. And again, at least, the goal here I think, sort of from a realistic standpoint, is to emerge from the rest of the Democratic pack and to give Hillary Clinton a one-on-one race. 

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.