On Monday August 12 2019 Bernie was the top trending topic on Twitter with #myberniestory - over a thousand supporters posted a video explaining why they were supporting Bernie. This is newsworthy one might naively think - maybe not the main political topic but certainly worth a mention in one of the CNN segments that day. Wrong. Instead, CNN spent the day smearing Bernie regarding quite innocuous and obviously true comments he made about the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos etc.
Some things are worse left unsaid
Moderators could have solicited much more differentiation between candidates in the November debate. Viewers were left worse off as a result of the questions that weren’t asked by Maddow etc. -
Like not asking Warren about her recent change from directly supporting single-payer Medicare for all to at first retaining private health insurance then pushing for single payer later during a Warren presidency.
Gaffe number 1:
Two mass shootings occurred early August 2019 in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio. In his initial response, Biden falsely referred to the shootings as having happened in Houston and Michigan. According to Snopes.com
(amongst many other sources):
“Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden incorrectly referred to the locations of two mass shootings in August 2019 in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as having happened in “Houston,” Texas, and “Michigan.” The remark came during a speech Biden gave at a fundraiser in San Diego, California, on Aug. 4, the same day as the Dayton massacre.
On Sunday November 10 and Monday November 11, Tom Steyer and Joe Biden had CNN townhalls. Why?
No explanation was given as to why these candidates deserved their own townhalls whereas other candidates didn’t. Nor did CNN just issue disclaimers to the effect that Steyer and Biden’s new super pac had just bought the airtime. The lack of any explanation of these on the face of it strange townhalls gave the impression of media bias towards Joe Biden, with Tom Steyer providing Biden and his super pac with some billionaire company.
In fact, Biden’s townhall was an exercise in cringingly blatant obsequiousness to Biden and equally blatant unrealistically positive spin by the pundit class. Preliminary softball questions about veterans’ issues (as November 11 was Veterans Day) were followed by what looked like a pre-meditated, artificial attempt to make Biden look good (‘Presidential’), or at least better than he had looked in debates thus far. Yet even in this bogus contrived setting, deliberately set up as propaganda for Biden, he was almost as rambling and unconvincing as he usually is.
The issue of health care has been one of the most pressing concerns amongst voters as far as recent polls about Democratic Party candidates for President have been concerned. Following the tragic mass shootings in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio (August 3 and 4), the importance of an issue that Jake Tapper raised with Bernie prior to the second round of debates has increased exponentially (though the media are not talking about it).
Tapper basically asked Bernie: are the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies akin to murderers? (If they are, they produce far more death than the El Paso and Dayton murderers and ought to be condemned.)
Aren’t such CEOs and pharmaceutical companies right to think that they are helping people (Jake asked?) Bernie responded that there is a philosophical issue here that needs to be addressed. The format of the tv interview didn’t allow for a philosophical discussion but even a decent undergraduate moral philosophy student can see that Bernie is right if we reject consequentialism.
(The following is a draft excerpt from a forthcoming book on the 2020 election, related to the excerpt ‘Jefferson Bernie and Biden’ on this site. This excerpt touches on the question of the objectivity of the Supreme Court’s role in American politics, with particular regard to the second amendment (guns). The preceding chapter in the book deals with the nature of the relationship between God (if such exists) and morality and Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma.)
Since it is implausible to believe that Trump believes in God or acts as if God is the source of objective morality (or even that God’s commands involve evincing a divine subjective feeling), this chapter assumes that God does not exist, but that either objective moral facts exist anyway, or that morality is subjective. In which case, which of these options fits most closely with the moral nature of Donald’s and Hillary’s relationships with the NRA and their attitude towards (innocent) human-animal gun death and (innocent) non-human-animal gun death?
As implicit ethical egoists, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump can consistently claim that human-animals have natural rights of the sort alluded to in the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights though Trump can consistently claim that non-human-animals don’t have natural rights (and thus condone the actions of his sons in taking pleasure from killing wildlife in Africa). In fact, he can consistently claim that human animals don’t have moral rights. Ethical egoism, a form of consequentialism, rejects the notion of moral rights as nonsense. Moreover, there are no actions on this Trumpean egoistic view which are morally wrong because of the nature of the action (or policy) in question, contrary to the implicit views about ethics propagated by the main stream media.
Anderson Cooper included a prerecorded lengthy segment on his show AC 360 in which he interviewed Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and author of ‘Thank you for being late’. The main point of discussion during the piece concerned Friedman’s recent op ed piece in the New York Times titled ‘Spare me the Revolution’.
Friday 18 October - the mainstream media (CNN) ran segments on shows throughout the day reporting on what was portrayed as a straightforwardly controversial recent claim made by Hillary Clinton (talking to David Plouffe in a podcast) that Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein were both Russian assets. Clinton alleged that just as Jill Stein was in cahoots with Russia running as a third-party candidate in the 2016 election, now Tulsi Gabbard is being ‘groomed’ by Russia to run as a third-party candidate in 2020. In response Van Jones (with Erin Burnett) described Hillary as a ‘legend’ however she is playing a dangerous game in slandering Gabbard without evidence (ignoring Stein in his comments). He went on to suggest that Hillary is merely being the cut-throat politician that many view her as. She’s just getting retribution for Tulsi’s endorsement of Bernie in 2016 and her resigning from the DNC due to its corruption (Debbie Wassermann-Schultz, Donna Brazile etc.). That sort of back-stabbing political pay-back is understandable - what is potentially politically dangerous (but not morally unacceptable in Washington) is slandering someone without evidence.
‘Bernie media bias?’ was the title of a segment on the S.E. Cupp Unfiltered show, CNN Saturday July 20.
One sometimes comes across the idea online that to think that the media is biased against Bernie is a case of ‘confirmation bias’. In other words, on this view one already believes that the media is biased against Bernie and is looking for evidence which supports one’s preconception, whilst ignoring other evidence that contradicts one’s bias.
However, if one considers the following evidence one cannot rationally deny that objectively, there is widespread and systematic media bias (putting it mildly) against Bernie. For instance, in the 2016 primaries:
Hundreds of Democratic Party super-delegates in 2016 (including Donna Brazile) were portrayed by the media as already on Hillary’s side before a single primary vote was cast, giving voters the impression that Bernie faced an insurmountable task. Although Bernie’s policies were appealing many didn’t vote for him because they thought he couldn’t win - directly because of media bias (super-delegates weren’t supposed to vote until the end of the primary process).
(In 2020, skewed media polls have taken the place of super-delegates (who will become relevant if a second ballot is called for).)
On Saturday October 12 2019 in the 8-00 p.m. CNN slot a hit piece about Bernie Sanders was tagged onto the end of another completely different story for which Matt Lewis, senior columnist for the Daily Beast and CNN political commentator Ron Brownstein, senior editor for The Atlantic and CNN senior political analyst were panelists.
The piece featured an interview with Bernie talking about what his response would be to voters who think he is very similar to Elizabeth Warren as far as policy is concerned but she hasn’t had a recent heart attack. In the full video clip, Bernie alludes to policy differences between himself and his friend Elizabeth but this part was not shown in the edited CNN clip (from ‘This Week’ on ABC). CNN do not allow any of their (edited for propaganda) video clips to be embedded in other websites.
Anderson Cooper: “Normally the Democratic Party nominee is picked behind closed doors but still wants to give the impression of being Democratic. However, after the 2016 primaries when our panelist Donna Brazille got caught colluding with the DNC to sabotage Bernie we want to try to make the nomination process seem as transparent and unbiased as possible (even though it’s obviously not).”
Wolf Blitzer: “That’s right Anderson. Although we bias our daily political coverage in favor of Joe Biden, we often try to appear like we’re objective and neutral by covering other corporate candidates who claim to be progressive like Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. To the extent that we mention Bernie, we only do so in a negative way.”
(The above caption is from the website of the Union Of Concerned Scientists (https://www.ucsusa.org/.) The following below is a draft excerpt from a forthcoming book, which amongst other things touches on the prisoner’s dilemma (game theory) and its application for climate change and the Green New Deal.)
Don Lemon July 11
Don Lemon’s producers included a section in his show regarding Democratic Party House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s public spat with a ‘squad’ of four including ALexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The section was prefaced in terms of Pelosi being reluctant to impeach Trump or investigate Alex Acosta’s connection with the sex-trafficking of Jeff Epstein, but the broader emphasis was on the public disagreement between AOC and Pelosi regarding the direction of the Democratic Party generally. Pelosi represents the old guard establishment, whereas AOC etc. represents the progressive wing of the party. Should these two apparently inconsistent factions within the Democratic Party be reconciled in order to defeat Trump in 2020. Can they be reconciled?
The primacy / recency effects and how they are subverted for MSM propaganda
A strange thing often happens a few minutes prior to the end of main stream media shows about politics in the USA. Just focusing on CNN, consider the shows of Erin Burnett, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo etc. Unwitting viewers of these shows are often presented with some seemingly light-hearted or otherwise apparently innocuous story (or cringeworthy hand-over from one anchor to another). These contrast starkly in tone with the often acrimonious previously broadcast disputes between politicians and panelists representing the corporate duopoly of the GOP or Democratic Party.
For example, on Saturday September 7, 2019, Ana Cabrera finished with a short segment about recent research on Loch Ness in Scotland and the suggestion that ‘Nessie’ may be a giant eel. Consider the frequent Jeannie Moos short segments at the end of the Erin Burnett OutFront show on CNN. Consider the cringeworthy handovers between Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo, or between Cuomo and Don Lemon (not to mention Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC). Not least, remember the day when Trump announced his tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires (to be paid for by cuts to Medicare over ten years)? That day, CNN and other corporate media outlets ran a story at the end of some of their shows about military UFO sightings.
On Friday July 5 CNN aired segments of Chris Cuomo’s ‘one-on-one’ with Joe Biden (in a cafe, the kind of place Biden likes to be seen). The same segments were introduced in the afternoon (by Dana Bash in for Jake Tapper) and at eight o’clock (by Jim Sciuto, in for Chris Cuomo).
On Monday August 26, the result of a new Monmouth University nationwide poll was revealed in the corporate media. Noticeably, CNN did the opposite of what they usually do when a poll favorable to Biden is discussed - they put the poll in at least some context. At least, that’s Wolf Blitzer’s conservative panel on ‘The Situation Room’ generally tried to seem to be doing (with the exception of Jeffrey Toobin).
Tuesday June 25 2019
Chris Cuomo began his show with the usual let’s get after it. Next was a segment billed as a precursor to the first set of Democratic Primary debates, on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 June on CNN. Invited guests were Nina Turner (from Bernie’s 2020 campaign, previously denied the opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016) and former Governor of Pennsylvania and ex DNC Ed Rendell.
What is it that morally justifies legal punishment (i.e. state sanctioned punishment of criminals)? There are at least four main possible responses as far as the death penalty is concerned.
First, God commands (‘lex talionis’?) that murderers must die. Although this idea is explored briefly in what follows, it depends on the notion that God exists to begin with (which God?). Since Plato showed that even if some God does exist, morality can’t depend on any authority (even a divine one) this possibility won’t be pursued here. However it should briefly be mentioned that governments in other countries (and terrorist groups) enforce religiously motivated capital punishment. For example Saudi Arabia, an ally of the USA, sanctions the religiously motivated beheading of people for actions that would not be deemed as crimes in civilized countries.
The second option is a retributivist one, of which there is an absolute and proportional variety. On each view, the moral justification for punishment has nothing to do with punishment having any deterrence value. Punishment is just a matter of retribution, i.e of giving the offender what they morally deserve.
Interviewed by Erin Burnett (together with April Ryan and Keith Boykin), Trump surrogate Rob Astorino made a number of false statements and fallacious inferences designed to obfuscate and subtly propagate the effects of the racist remarks Trump had made the previous day against four progressive Congress members and women of color. Unfortunately these falsities were not called out in the actual segment, which consisted of righteous indignation to Astorino’s claims rather than refuting them with reason and logic. The following attempts to do what might have been done during the segment in question.