My guest today is Norman Solomon, author, activist and cofounder/national coordinator of RootsAction.org,
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Norman. We last chatted back in 2015, which seems like a very long time ago. I'd like to talk a bit about your recent piece, Bernie is Not a Wind Sock [3.25.19]. What did you mean by that?
Norman Solomon: Politicians who change direction with the wind aren't dependable. We don't really know where they stand if they're willing to stand somewhere quite different when the political winds shift. Bernie Sanders is on another trip entirely. From him, instead of transactional behavior with elements of opportunism, we get long-term consistency with a core of idealism. During more than five decades, he's been part of progressive social movements that are committed to really changing the political winds -- not blowing with them.
JB: How is that playing, this time around? Ironically, although Democratic voters have moved more and more in a progressive direction and less progressive politicians have adopted more and more of his originally "out there" ideas, there is still a lot of push back to him and his candidacy. Your thoughts?
NS: A media meme during the winter was that Bernie had lost his unique appeal because so many other candidates were embracing his positions such as Medicare for All and tuition-free public college. That meme has faded as Bernie's polling numbers are so far ahead of all the candidates who've moved in a progressive direction. But there was always -- and continues to be -- enormous antipathy toward Bernie, or at least toward his politics, from corporate media and corporate forces overall. It's going to be a very tough primary campaign, and yet I think Bernie has a better chance of winning the nomination than anyone else does.
JB: Agreed. Did you watch the CNN Democratic presidential town hall? What did you think?
NS: Haven't found time to watch.
JB: What can you tell us about the media coverage Bernie receives? What's your take on it?
NS: As I put it in "The Biggest Obstacle for Bernie is Not the DNC" published in OpEdNews in March, "More than any other force, reflexive spin from corporate media stands between us and a Bernie Sanders presidency. In sharp contrast to campaigns with enormous budgets for Astroturf, the first Sanders presidential campaign was able to effectively defy the conventional wisdom and overall power structure by inspiring and mobilizing at the grassroots. His campaign was -- and is -- antithetical to the politics of corporate media."
The enormous problem with mainstream media coverage of Bernie has continued, and I expect the overall negative treatment will greatly intensify between now and the end of the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. While there are some positive news stories and commentaries, the dominant range of media approaches to him goes from skeptical to hostile. The April 27 kickoff of the official Bernie 2020 grassroots campaign included upwards of 5,000 organizing events on that one day. It reflected a recognition that the forces arrayed against the Bernie campaign -- notably including the dominant corporate media -- are so powerful and so antagonistic that it's going to be imperative to build a nationwide grassroots campaign with unprecedented depth, reach and power in order to win.
JB: And the campaign touted a brand new app that will greatly facilitate broadening the base. That sounds promising. How does Joe Biden's entering the race affect the Sanders campaign and candidacy?
NS: The former VP's pseudo-populist rhetoric aside, Biden's campaign clarifies just how corporate the Democratic Party establishment is, offering continuity to go "back to the future" -- with claims that the situation was marvelous before Trump screwed it up. It's a defense of the pre-Trump status quo of the sort that helped Hillary Clinton to lose the election. ("America is already great.")