The age of the bad take: how the US liberal media plays to lose

The symbiosis between the media and the Democratic party establishment is a recipe for failure

The opening line in MSNBC host Brian Williams’s daily broadcasts has been exactly the same since January 20th, 2017: “Good evening once again, day 1,347 of this Trump administration, 37 days to go until our presidential election.” Like an inmate counting down each day of their imprisonment as well as the days until their liberation, the opening line serves to prime his audience into equating Trump’s four-year term in office into a prison sentence with no parole. Another one of MSNBC’s highly paid personalities, Rachel Maddow, spent the better part of 2017-19 offering the possibility of such a parole by her obsessive peddling of the Russian interference story that eventually led to Trump’s impeachment. Of course it was destined to fail, as by now it had become all but obvious that a Republican-held Senate would require Republicans to put their country’s interests ahead of that of their party and their president. Only one did so.

Fox News often gets the blame for exemplifying the kind of conservative media brainwashing that has proven so toxic in recent decades, leading to sycophantic levels of support for Trump as well as George W. Bush before him. But much less has been said about the role of the other two networks that form the US’s triumvirate of cable news: CNN and MSNBC. Just as Fox News is unabashedly conservative (notwithstanding its since removed “fair and balanced reporting” motto), CNN and MSNBC supposedly represent the “liberal” side of US politics. And just as the last four years has seen Fox News wage a campaign of apologism and denial over all of Trump’s misdeeds, CNN/MSNBC has basically turned into a 24-hour stream of Trump outrage. And by doing this, has largely turned a blind eye to the structural causes of why Trump won while blindly supporting a Democratic Party establishment that has no intention of addressing them. Continue reading

Why Bernie can win it (and Corbyn couldn’t)

He’s facing none of the personal or contextual adversities that led to Corbyn’s electoral wipeout

With less than two weeks left before Super Tuesday, the single most important day in the US’s highly convoluted and highly un-democratic primary elections, Bernie Sanders has consolidated himself as the candidate to beat, particularly following a very strong showing in Nevada and polls that show him gaining an ever greater share of national support. There are, of course, still obstacles to his nomination. Michael Bloomberg (the 9th richest man in the world) could still find ways of ad-blitzing his way to the nomination with his virtually unlimited cash. Or the Democratic establishment (namely the so-called Super Delegates) could end up voting for someone else in the event of a contested convention, even if Sanders gets the most delegates. Suffice to say that that the Democratic establishment is not keen on a Sanders candidacy and will continue doing everything it can to derail his chances at securing the nomination.

But even as the Sanders steamroller continues to get stronger, one of the most frequent criticism I hear about him is that he can’t beat Trump, and that if the Democrats are unwise enough to select a radical leftist, they will suffer a similar defeat like that which Corbyn faced in December 2019 in the UK. Trump, after all, continues to enjoy the support of a rabid, fired-up support base, Republicans are united behind him, and the prospect of the country that pretty much invented modern capitalism voting for a self-declared socialist seems almost preposterous. Well, for starters, the polls show otherwise. Even in 2016, polls showed Sanders having much wider leads in match-ups against Trump than Clinton did, because both represented anti-establishment figures willing to take on entrenched elites (only one of them, Sanders, clearly meant it). This time around, polls also show Sanders ahead of Trump and I suspect the difference will keep getting wider as his campaign continues to strengthen. Continue reading