Bernie Sanders: ‘We’re taking the campaign to the Convention.’ Media: ‘He just threw in the towel.’
After Hillary Clinton won four out five states Bernie Sanders released the following statement:
The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.
Call me crazy, but if I had to boil this down into a nugget of a take away, I’d say something like, “Sanders vows to stay in the race!” or “Sanders will campaign all the way to the Convention,” or “Sanders will push progressive values and platforms.”
But that’s not the dominant narrative among pundits or headlines.
- “It is fair to say that this Democratic contest is effectively over.” – Rachel Maddow on MSNBC
- [something similar to what Maddow said that I can’t remember but saw and it was the same idea.] – Lawrence O’Donnell.
- “Bernie Sanders’ campaign just dropped a major hint that the race is over.” – Headline, by Matt Yglesias at Vox.
- “Bernie statement admits he’s no longer in this to get the nomination.” – Molly Ball, Atlantic political writer, on Twitter.
- “Bernie Sanders Surrenders Nomination Fight While Congratulating Clinton On Primary Wins.” –Politics USA headline.
- “Sanders Hints at Endgame.” –Newser headline.
- “Comments Proved He’s Finally Winding His Campaign Down” – Bustle headline.
- “Bernie Sanders Campaign Just Conceded Nomination Fight, Congratulates Clinton” – Liberal America headline.
- “Bernie Sanders Shifts Focus From Nomination to Influencing Presidential Race.” The Wrap, headline.
Maybe Sanders is reprioritizing. But that’s kind of not the point. The point is what much of mainstream media chooses to prioritize through its framing and coverage. Why, for instance, if Sanders explicitly states that he will stay in the race until the Convention, are the headlines and hot takes focusing on something that is speculative. The media too often deliver speculation as prophecy, declaring some candidates certain comers and others clearly doomed. Sanders has surpassed their predictions and the public expectations they instilled.
The media should at least pretend they aren’t invested in showing Sanders as a lost cause. And they should pretend to be interested in reporting on what Sanders is actually saying. They can posit that Sanders, by not mentioning a victory strategy, really has chosen to stay in the race to push the Democratic Party to be more progressive. But shouldn’t they start by reporting what they actually know? And then decode its significance? Don’t skip over the newsworthy story, which is that Sanders is going to keep on keeping on.