It's not enough that much of the mainstream media cheered on Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 or browbeat former President George W. Bush on Iraq and Afghanistan to force Republicans from control of Congress. No, it's time for a "progressive television network" and for left-wingers to support radio hosts that are sympathetic to liberal causes according to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
You may have thought there already was a "progressive" cable network in MSNBC and left-wingers sort of had an opportunity to support Air America, but that didn't quite pan out as anticipated - though it's still hanging on. Nonetheless, Sanders, a self-described socialist, appeared on MSNBC's Aug. 13 "Rachel Maddow Show" and blasted Fox News and conservative talk radio. He blamed both for creating obstacles to Democratic Party led efforts to fundamentally alter health care in the United States. But he also said it's time the left attempted to replicate the right and created their own left-wing networks.
"I'll tell you what else we need to do," Sanders said. "We need to understand that it is very, very hard for the president or anybody else to take on not just the Republican Party, that's the easy part - to take on all of right-wing talk radio, which covers 90 percent of talk show hosts, a whole Fox network which is nothing more than an arm of the Republican Party and the Democrats got to think long term. Why is there not a progressive television network? Why aren't we supporting good and effective personalities on radio as well and building up a network there so that we can that kind of political consciousness-raising that the Republicans, in fact, are doing so well right now."
Sanders has openly supported measures like the Fairness Doctrine in the past to silence conservative media, but his tirade about media was spurred on by a question from host Rachel Maddow, who had conceded the left could not counter the message of those who oppose Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress' brand of health care legislation. She asked Sanders if these protests should be acknowledged and combated, or just ignored.
"If it is harder to rile people with hope than it is to rile them with fear, it may be hard to go sort of base versus base, activist versus activist, honestly shouting person versus shouting person at some of these events and in terms of competition for the overall narrative around health care," Maddow said. "Do you think that people who are saying, who are promoting these myths - that the president does want to kill old people, all these crazy things about health care reform - do you think they should just be ignored? Is it worth debunking them or mocking them?"
Sanders explained to Maddow that what he described as "lies" had to be fought. However, he also suggested that proponents take the issue of health care and turn it into a civil rights issue that "tens of millions of people" would rally behind.
"Oh no, I think what you are doing and all of us have to do - we have to call a lie a lie and they lie a whole lot of times," Sanders said. "And we have to hold the Republican Party and the officials who support these lies accountable. But that's not enough. What we need to do is do what Obama did during is very brilliant campaign, as that is rally tens of millions of people to stand up and say that health care is the civil rights issue of the moment, that is not acceptable that a million people a year, this year are going to go bankrupt because of medically related costs. We need to do grassroots organizing."
Sanders' idea that the President's health care proposal hasn't gotten any help from the media is absurd if you take into account the results of a study by the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute. It found the media support the president's health care policy. The study examined 224 stories about health care on the three broadcast networks' morning and evening shows that aired between Jan. 20, the date of Obama's inauguration, and June 24, and found they are reluctant to include reporting about cost and tended to exaggerate the number of uninsured, which bolsters Obama's case.