Dick Van Dyke Lauds Bernie Sanders, Complains People Call Him 'Socialist'

Appearing as a guest on Friday's Tavis Smiley show on PBS, actor Dick Van Dyke spoke of his support for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and oddly complained that it is "incendiary" for his critics to call him a "socialist," even though Sanders labels himself a "democratic socialist." Van Dyke then declared that "we're a fairly socialist government already."

The veteran actor, who is currently promoting his book, Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging, had previously appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell and pronounced Sanders the winner of the Democratic presidential debate.

On the Tavis Smiley show, Van Dyke first began to bring up politics in the interview by complaining about the Supreme Court declaring that "a corporation is a person." Van Dyke:

Over my 90 years, the world has become a lot more like 1984, that devil speak kind of. I mean, good is bad, right is wrong. Remember that? And the Supreme Court said a corporation is a person. That's doublespeak.

After host Tavis Smiley asked him to speak more about his views on politics, Van Dyke complained about "insurance companies and banks" and praised Senator Sanders for "sounding an alarm." Van Dyke:

As I said, it's Orwellian to me. Everything has changed. I think -- I said that Bernie Sanders is sounding an alarm that's been around for 100 years. Woodrow Wilson said in 1913 the United States government is being run by an invisible force which -- insurance companies and banks -- that was in 1913. And the stranglehold has just caught on now, I don' t think we can get out of it. Bernie I don't think can be elected, but thank God he is at least telling us -- he is the man saying that the emperor has no clothes.

Smiley responded:

I assume, then, with your reference to Bernie Sanders that you agree with him on this conversation that we need to have about income inequality and poverty?

The veteran actor concluded his political talk by lamenting:

Yes, I do. Labels are so incendiary. They use "communist" and "socialist" -- the one percent that have the money are calling him a "socialist." And we're a fairly socialist government already. I'm hoping somebody listens to him. We need it. He's right, the middle class is disappearing.

In his Thursday, October 15, appearance on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Van Dyke began the interview by heaping praise on the far left host:

Can I thank you on behalf of everybody for being a little island of sanity in all this chaos? We watch you every night. It's such a pleasure.

After recalling that he had voted for FDR, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower in past presidential elections, he was asked by host O'Donnell if he believed that the current media environment is really better than the more limited media of long ago, leading Van Dyke to complain that some cable news networks are similar to "propaganda" and to declare that Sanders won the Democratic debate:

Communication, of course, is much better now, but, unfortunately, some of the cable stations are slanted so far as to be almost propaganda politically, so I think you have to listen to everybody because Ted Turner didn't know what he was starting when he invented 24-hour cable. No, I'm a person who believes that Bernie Sanders did win the debate.

After the MSNBC host asked, "You watched the whole debate? You thought Bernie won?" Van Dyke added:

Absolutely, I thought Bernie sounded an alarm that's been around -- a problem that's been around for about 100 years. He warned us about becoming an oligarchy, and I'm afraid he's perhaps too late.

Relevant transcripts follow:

#From the Friday, October 23, Tavis Smiley show on PBS:

DICK VAN DYKE: When I was a kid, I tried to emulate, we wanted to be Fred Astaire, Carey Grant. Now, kids emulate crooks and, you know, criminals. Why is that? Why do they want to dress that way? It doesn't make sense to me.

Well, I've, over my 90 years, the world has become a lot more like 1984, that devil speak kind of. I mean, good is bad, right is wrong. Remember that? And the Supreme Court said a corporation is a person. That's doublespeak.

TAVIS SMILEY: Yeah, yeah. Since you went there -- and I'm glad you did -- I'll follow you in. This is a big question, and I'm deliberately asking it broadly so you can go anywhere you want to go with it. You've hit on a couple of themes here now. What do you make of the world that we live in? Socially, politically, economically, culturally? You tell me.

VAN DYKE: As I said, it's Orwellian to me. Everything has changed. I think -- I said that Bernie Sanders is sounding an alarm that's been around for 100 years. Woodrow Wilson said in 1913 the United States government is being run by an invisible force which -- insurance companies and banks -- that was in 1913. And the stranglehold has just caught on now, I don' t think we can get out of it. Bernie I don't think can be elected, but thank God he is at least telling us -- he is the man saying that the emperor has no clothes.

SMILEY: I assume, then, with your reference to Bernie Sanders that you agree with him on this conversation that we need to have about income inequality and poverty?

VAN DYKE: Yes, I do. Labels are so incendiary. They use "communist" and "socialist" -- the one percent that have the money are calling him a "socialist." And we're a fairly socialist government already. I'm hoping somebody listens to him. We need it. He's right, the middle class is disappearing.

#From the Thursday, October 15, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MNSBC:

DICK VAN DYKE: Can I thank you on behalf of everybody for being a little island of sanity in all this chaos? We watch you every night. It's such a pleasure.

(...)

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: But I was fascinated to read about you listening on the radio to the presidential election returns when FDR won and what that felt like.

VAN DYKE: Everybody knew that he was going to win. Where are the FDRs and the Moynihans today? We need them. There are too many lightweights around. I voted for Harry Truman, and then I voted for Ike. And I would again.

O'DONNELL: And was it, what do you think has happened? I mean, you go back to the time when you had to listen to this stuff on the radio. And to this world now where we have the Internet, we have this show, we have cable news, we have all this saturation coverage of politics. It's a very different world now than it was then. Do you think things were better then or better now?

VAN DYKE: Communication, of course, is much better now, but, unfortunately, some of the cable stations are slanted so far as to be almost propaganda politically, so I think you have to listen to everybody because Ted Turner didn't know what he was starting when he invented 24-hour cable. No, I'm a person who believes that Bernie Sanders did win the debate.

O'DONNELL: Oh, good, let's hear about that. So you watched it all? You thought Bernie won?

VAN DYKE: Pardon me?

O'DONNELL: You watched the whole debate? You thought Bernie won?

VAN DYKE: Absolutely, I thought Bernie sounded an alarm that's been around -- a problem that's been around for about 100 years. He warned us about becoming an oligarchy, and I'm afraid he's perhaps too late.


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW
2016 Presidential Debates Communism Economy Regulation Liberals & Democrats PBS MSNBC Tavis Smiley Bernie Sanders