Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to be getting just a wee ridiculous. We’re still 6 1/2 months from the first primary votes being cast, as everybody likes to tell me whenever I talk about a poll, “It’s early yet!”, and already the recriminations are flying around.
In q statement to Politico, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir dumped a bucket of shit on the heads of the very people the campaign needs for its oxygen, the media;
“This isn’t intended to be a sweeping generalization of all journalists,” he told POLITICO, “but there are a healthy number who just find Bernie annoying, discount his seriousness, and wish his supporters and movement would just go away.”
OK, chis is cheap, petty, and obnoxious for a number of reasons. For starters, while Shakir disavows making it a “blanket statement,” he goes on to infer that it’s a “healthy number,” clearly indicating he believes it’s a majority of reporters. Second, no responsible journalist would ever allow any personal feelings to seep in and color the way that they cover any candidate. And third, as long as the reporters keeps their feelings to themselves, and out of their reporting, the claim is specious and inconsequential in the first place.
This is not the first time that Bernie Sanders and his campaign have jousted with the press. The article points out that in 2016, Sanders complained that the media largely ignored him especially in the early stages of the campaign, ignoring the fact that the media regularly touted his prolific small donor contribution efforts.
Worse yet, this is not the first time Sanders has voiced public complaints this early in the campaign. Several weeks ago, when he fell further behind Biden after his campaign announcement, and as Elizabeth Warren started to climb in the polls, Sanders groused that the other candidates were holding him back by “stealing his thunder,” in pushing the same programs and ideas that he pioneered in 2016. This is like Bill Walsh complaining that other NFL teams snaffled his “West coast offense.”
The real problem here is that the optics are absolutely terrible. We’ve only had one debate, only 12% of voters have fixed on a single candidate, which means that nobody is out of the game, no votes have been cast, and yet the Sanders campaign is throwing shine all over the place. This tends to lead to two conclusions, both of them negative. Either Sanders is blaming other people for his performance and current standing in the polls, or worse yet, he’s starting to pick scapegoats to blame if his campaign fails. Neither one should be an image the campaign wants to portray, especially this early in the campaign.
Look, full disclosure, I’m not a Bernie supporter, but I’m not a Bernie hater either. I am not going to “back” any one particular candidate before the completion of the second debates at the earliest. And if it turns out that Bernie is the candidate, I will certainly vote for him. Anybody who follows politics knows that different candidates often have similar, or nearly identical solutions for major issues. Sanders should be proud that his once “radical” ideas are now a part of the mainstream conversations in the campaign. But rather than blaming everybody else for his current showing, I would think that the campaign would be better served to try to determine why his message isn’t resonating as well as he’d like and need it to be, and take steps to correct those problems. Because, this just isn’t working.