CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil on Thursday lobbied Bernie Sanders to drag Joe Biden to the left, touting ideas such as a “ban on fracking” and “national rent control.” Offering no hint that these ideas could be extreme, Dokoupil asked the socialist if Biden “has promised you anything?”
In an exclusive interview, the first since Sanders dropped out, the co-host pressed, “I made a little list of some of the things that have been central to your campaign and I hope you'll let me know which of these you think could be part of a Biden administration. Universal health care is a biggie. Free college for all. Canceled college debt. National rent control. A ban on fracking. A wealth tax. Marijuana legalization. A 50 percent reduction in the prison population.”
Dokoupil wondered, “These are all things you've campaigned on that have made you popular. Joe Biden doesn't support any of them. Which do you see him moving on?” The journalist hopefully added, “Has he promised you anything?”
Of course there was no discussion on how “free” college, nationalized rent control and releasing half of the prison population would actually work. (Dokoupil is the same guy who, in February, used an actual pie to try and sell socialism.)
But then, throughout the Democratic presidential primary, the This Morning journalists have worked to portray the Democratic candidates as “moderate.” In March, reporter Ed O’Keefe insisted that far-left Senator Kamala Harris was part of the “moderate” wing of the Democratic Party.
Last summer, just prior to the first debate, he insisted that the event “could be a big night for the lesser known, more moderate, Democrats on stage who are eager to break through.”
Back in September, O’Keefe praised Buttigieg’s “moderate” health care plan as “sounding pretty good.” The journalist hyped, “[Buttigieg is] hoping to gain support for sure and definitely wants to talk up this idea because he sees it as a more moderate alternative to Medicare for all.”
Given the way CBS has covered the Democratic race so far, perhaps even socialist Sanders could become part of the “moderate” wing of the Democratic Party. (Also during Thursday's Sanders interview, CBS finally broke down and mentioned the sexual abuse allegation against Biden.)
A transcript of the segment’s questions can be found below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
8:16: AM ET
TONY DOKOUPIL: Former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders tells CBS This Morning he believes the vast majority of his supporters will back former vice president Joe Biden even though many, including Sanders' former press secretary, say they won't. In his first network TV interview since endorsing the presumptive Democratic nominee, the Vermont senator spelled out the issues where he expects Joe Biden to adopt a more progressive stance.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: On day one of my campaign, what I said is that if I lose, I will be there to support the Democratic nominee because it is absolutely imperative that we defeat Donald Trump, who in my view, is the most dangerous, irresponsible president in the modern history of this country.
DOKOUPIL: It’s an argument against Donald Trump, but making the argument for Joe Biden is a different matter.
DOKOUPIL: I made a list of some of the things that have been central to your campaign, and I hope you'll let me know which of these you think could be part of a Biden administration. Universal health care is a biggie. Free college for all. Canceled college debt. National rent control. A ban on fracking. A wealth tax. Marijuana legalization. A 50 percent reduction in the prison population. These are all things you've campaigned on that have made you popular. Joe Biden doesn't support any of them. Which do you see him moving on?
DOKOUPIL: Has he promised you anything?
DOKOUPIL: Joe Biden is going to need every vote that he can get. How do you improve on your 2016 record to make sure that –
SANDERS: My 2016 record was a fine record. In my house right here, I got a couple letters from Hillary Clinton thanking me for the very strong support I gave her.
DOKOUPIL: I imagine you will be fund-raising for Joe Biden.
DOKOUPIL: How do you campaign in the midst of this pandemic? Should there be conventions? Can you have rallies and the late summer maybe?
DOKOUPIL: I think it's indisputable that this virus has exposed how medically and financially fragile many sectors of our society are.
SANDERS: That's right.
DOKOUPIL: In that tragedy and our response to it, do you think society may re-evaluate the need for the policies you've been arguing for for 30 years now?
SANDERS: The answer is yes.
DOKOUPIL: We also asked Senator Sanders about other concerns some supporters have, including a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden. His accuser reportedly filed a police report last week. Now claiming Biden assaulted her in 1993 when she was working in his Senate office. Published reports indicate her story has changed over the years. Biden's campaign calls the allegation, quote, “untrue,” and says the alleged incident, quote, “absolutely did not happen,” close quote. Here's what Bernie Sanders had to say about it. One of your most important allies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said recently she thinks it's legitimate and relevant to talk about sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. Do you agree?
SANDERS: I think it's relevant and to talk about anything. I think any woman who feels that she was assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims.
DOKOUPIL: Do you think that should weigh significantly in the mind of --
SANDERS: I think that she has the right to make her claims and get a public hearing, and the public will make their own conclusions about it. I just don't know enough about it to comment further.
DOKOUPIL: All right.