Bernie Sanders Instructs: I Need Media to Help Sell My Socialism

In his first interview since announcing his 2020 presidential campaign, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called on the media to help sell his brand of socialism to American voters. Talking to CBS This Morning co-host John Dickerson for an interview aired on Tuesday, Sanders dismissed questions about the details of his radical Medicare-for-all proposal and lectured that the press must “explain the truth” of what a “good deal” it would be for people.

Sanders touted how “many of the ideas that I talked about, Medicare-for-all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition free” that were considered “radical” or “extreme” when he previously ran in 2016 had supposedly become “part of the political mainstream.”

 

 

Dickerson observed: “So you’re saying the party came your way?” Sanders agreed: “Well, I don’t want to say that. I think most people would say that.” In response, Dickerson offered a campaign slogan: “Is that your argument, then, against your competitors? Which is, ‘I was Medicare-for-all before Medicare-for-all was cool.’” Sanders chuckled and replied: “I guess that’s one way of looking at it.”

That sentiment echoed a report from ABC’s Good Morning America in which correspondent Terry Moran gushed that Sanders “made democratic socialism cool for millions of voters.” During his 2016 run, Sanders was treated to similar media adulation over his radical agenda and “fearless” socialism.

However, unlike Moran, Dickerson followed up by actually raising problems with government-run health care:

...you have talked about the fact that polls show 70% are in favor of Medicare-for-all. But that number drops to 37%  if somebody hears private insurance is going to go away, which is what your plan offers. So I guess my question is, you’re offering something that the polling shows people can get very spooked very quickly about....The other challenge to your health care plan will be cost. People will say, my goodness, there’s no way this is – everybody’s going to get covered.

Sanders brushed aside the concerns and scolded the network host: “...now I need you in the media to help us explain the truth. No more out-of-pocket expenses, no more deductibles. The cost of prescription drugs is gonna go down. We expand the kinds of coverage available for senior citizens. It’s a good deal.”

At the top of the largely softball interview, Sanders proclaimed: “We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history, and that is a grassroots movement, John, to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.” Rather than press Sanders on what he meant by “transforming economic and political life,” Dickerson helpfully added: “And that’s your theory, which is without the groundswell, without the grassroots, you can’t change the politics in Washington?” Sanders stated: “That’s exactly right.”

Sanders also launched into a tirade against President Trump: “...we have a president who is a pathological liar, and it gives me no pleasure to say that, but it’s true. We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe...” Instead of challenging the presidential contender’s incendiary rhetoric, Dickerson yawned: “But all of your opponents will say we’ve got to get Donald Trump out of the White House, that’s not your distinguishing characteristic, so?”

Following the taped exchange minutes later, co-host Norah O’Donnell promoted Sanders as a “key voice” in Democratic primary politics while Dickerson claimed that the far-left lawmaker “will be there as somebody against which everybody else’s plans have to be measured.”

Fellow co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King enthused: “He certainly is fired up and ready to go, to steal a term from Barack Obama’s campaign.” Dickerson concluded: “There is no question about the energy behind his candidacy and his ideas. That’s for sure.”

To his credit, in the second portion of the interview aired at the top of the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Dickerson did question Sanders on accusations of sexism and harassment in his 2016 campaign.

In total, Sanders was given over 11 minutes of air time to promote his candidacy on the CBS morning show.

Here are excerpts of the February 19 interview:  

7:03 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: And we’ve got some big news this morning. Minutes ago, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced he will run again for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race. The three-term independent senator revealed his plans first to John and also in an e-mail. He said his goal will be, quote, “Transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

JOHN DICKERSON: The 77-year-old former mayor and former congressman is the tenth candidate to join the most diverse Democratic Party field in U.S. history. That’s very different from four years ago, when Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley were the major opponents to Hillary Clinton, her only major opponents.

Only on CBS This Morning, we spoke to Sanders about taking another shot at the presidency and why he believes this campaign will succeed.

DICKERSON [TO SANDERS]: So, Senator Sanders, you’re gonna run for president.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: I am going to run for president, that’s correct.

DICKERSON: What’s going to be different this time?

SANDERS: We’re gonna win. We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history, and that is a grassroots movement, John, to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. That’s what’s different.

DICKERSON: And that’s your theory, which is without the groundswell, without the grassroots, you can’t change the politics in Washington?

SANDERS: That’s exactly right.

(...)

SANDERS: But bottom line for me is I think it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated because I think it is unacceptable and un-American, to be frank with you, that we have a president who is a pathological liar, and it gives me no pleasure to say that, but it’s true. We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is doing what no president in our lifetimes has come close to doing, and that is trying to divide us up.

DICKERSON: But all of your opponents will say we’ve got to get Donald Trump out of the White House, that’s not your distinguishing characteristic, so?

SANDERS: That is not my distinguishing characteristic. I think what I am very proud of, in a sense, this campaign, John, is a continuation of what we did in 2016. You will recall, you may recall, that in 2016, many of the ideas that I talked about, Medicare-for-all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition free, all of those ideas, people said, “Oh, Bernie, they’re so radical, they are extreme. The American people just won’t accept those ideas.” Well, you know what’s happened over three years? All of those ideas and many more are part of the political mainstream.

DICKERSON: So you’re saying the party came your way?  

SANDERS: Well, I don’t want to say that. I think most people would say that.

DICKERSON: Is that your argument, then, against your competitors? Which is, “I was Medicare-for-all before Medicare-for-all was cool.”

SANDERS [LAUGHS]: I guess that’s one way of looking at it. But it’s – no. I know many other people, certainly the senators who are running, and without exception, I am fond of them, they are, in some cases, my friends.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you on your Medicare-for-all, you have talked about the fact that polls show 70% are in favor of Medicare-for-all. But that number drops to 37%  if somebody hears private insurance is going to go away, which is what your plan offers. So I guess my question is, you’re offering something that the polling shows people can get very spooked very quickly about.

SANDERS: No, but that’s because we’re going to be taking on the insurance companies and the drug companies who are going to spend a whole lot of money distorting what we believe in. The bottom line is, the average middle class family will save money, will spend less money on health care, will have more choice, and broader coverage than is currently the case.

DICKERSON: The other challenge to your health care plan will be cost. People will say, my goodness, there’s no way this is – everybody’s going to get covered. And there are – you know some of the estimates that come out –  

SANDERS: But John, this has – now I need you in the media to help us explain the truth. No more out-of-pocket expenses, no more deductibles. The cost of prescription drugs is gonna go down. We expand the kinds of coverage available for senior citizens. It’s a good deal.

(...)

O’DONNELL: Bernie Sanders is a key voice.

DICKERSON: He is, and his argument is, “I’ve been doing this and talking about this for a long time, which gives voters some sense of my commitment to these ideas.” And the tests in primaries are always, “How committed are you really to the true ideas of our party?” That’s true on the right, it’s true on the left. And so, he will be there – whether he does well in the polls and in the voting or not – he will be there as somebody against which everybody else’s plans have to be measured, and that will have an effect on the race whether he does well or not.

O’DONNELL: We’ve got more coming up?

DICKERSON: We sure do. We’ll talk about capitalism, socialism, and in the next hour –  

GAYLE KING: How about his age? Does he talk about that? He certainly is fired up and ready to go, to steal a term from Barack Obama’s campaign.

DICKERSON: Well, thank you for that segue, Gayle. Yes, indeed, we talked to him about his age and a variety of other things. He is – there is no question about the energy behind his candidacy and his ideas. That’s for sure. So we’ve got more of that coming up.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning Video John Dickerson Bernie Sanders

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