FLASHBACK: In 1990, ABC Introduced the ‘New' Bernie Sanders: 'No Fringe Politician'

Listen to the Article!

Bernie Sanders has been on the national stage for almost 30 years and his relationship with the media has fluctuated. Sometimes, journalists view him as a threat, a candidate that would surely lose to Donald Trump and must be stopped. Other times, his socialist views are exciting and captivating for these reporters.  

But if you go back to November 11, 1990, you can see that World News Tonight found the then-Congressman-elect to be fascinating and worthy of attention. Reporter Bob Jamieson told viewers that the socialist was “no fringe politician.” 

 

 

Whether they like him or not most here would agree that Socialist Bernie Sanders is no fringe politician. And his margin of victory [to Congress], 16 percent, would attest to that. He drew that support by promising to cut defense spending and tax the rich and use the money for national health care, the environment and education.

Jamieson uncritically featured Sanders slamming capitalism. (Clearly, the man's views haven’t changed much in 29 and a half years.) 

The rich have gotten away with murder, they control the Congress, they control the economic sector, they control the media. I think it's time and that's what this whole thing is about, that we begin to stand up and say wait a second this is a democratic society, it is not an oligarchy. And the rich and the powerful cannot continue to get everything while so many of our people are suffering.

Guest anchor Forrest Sawyer marveled, “The U.S. House will have a new and unusual member when the 102nd Congress convenes. Only the fifth socialist in history to serve there, the first in almost 40 years. And he arrives promising to work for dramatic change.” 

But at least ABC allowed one voice to call Sanders extreme: 

BARBARA GRIMES (D-Vermont state rep): I'm as afraid of his type of politics as I am of the politics of the very right. There is no room for compromise. “If you don't believe what I say then you're wrong.”

For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.

A transcript of the November 11, 1990 segment is below: 

World News Tonight
11/11/1990

FORREST SAWYER: The U.S. House will have a new and unusual member when the 102nd Congress convenes. Only the fifth socialist in history to serve there, the first in almost 40 years. And he arrives promising to work for dramatic change. Bob Jamieson has the story.

BOB JAMIESON: The warning is already coming down from the Green Mountains: The Vermont that gave us Calvin Coolidge is sending a socialist to Washington as its new and only Congressman. Forty-nine year old Bernie Sanders, former Mayor of Burlington, wants to reorder the nation's priorities in favor of ordinary people. And the warning, this weekend, about Sanders, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

MAYOR PETER CLAVELLE (Burlington): He raised people's expectations as to what city government could do, particularly for ordinary folks. And I think when he goes to Washington he's going to redefine what it is to be a Congressman.

BARBARA GRIMES (D-Vermont state rep): I'm as afraid of his type of politics as I am of the politics of the very right. There is no room for compromise. “If you don't believe what I say then you're wrong.”

JAMIESON: Whether they like him or not most here would agree that Socialist Bernie Sanders is no fringe politician. And his margin of victory, 16 percent, would attest to that. He drew that support by promising to cut defense spending and tax the rich and use the money for national health care, the environment and education.

CONGRESSMAN BERNIE SANDERS: What I stand for is real democracy, which means to say that to as great a degree as possible, people have the right to control all aspects of their own life.

JAMIESON: Sanders, born in Brooklyn, his political views hardened by the civil rights movement, says that control must be first taken from the rich.

SANDERS: The rich have gotten away with murder, they control the Congress, they control the economic sector, they control the media. I think it's time and that's what this whole thing is about, that we begin to stand up and say wait a second this is a democratic society, it is not an oligarchy. And the rich and the powerful cannot continue to get everything while so many of our people are suffering.

JAMIESON: If Sanders is to effectively fight the establishment he must first join it. He has asked the Democratic Party's Congressional caucus to accept him; the only way he can get a committee assignment, crucial if he is to be more than an oddity in the new Congress. Bob Jamieson, ABC News, Burlington, Vermont.

 

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