What the Ex-Pat Primary Tells Us About the Bernie Blackout

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What the Ex-Pat Primary Tells Us About the Bernie Blackout

(Photo: Michael Vadon/flickr/cc)

Tuesday, March 22, and Wednesday the 23rd were excellent days for the Establishment misinformation machine. 

Two Days in the Life of the Bernieblackout

Tuesday began with an email from the Sanders campaign telling me he’d won the ex-pat primary by a huge margin.  Good enough, but the corporate media barely covered it.  Yet Sanders’ victory overseas tells us a lot about the state of journalism and its consequences here at home.  Before we get to that let’s continue through two days in the life of the #BernieBlackout.

After the email, I got some coffee and waded through what passes for news here in the land of the free. First up was a piece in Huffington Post explaining how I was a sexist if I didn’t support Hillary.  The New York Times had an article on why Sanders should get out of the race.  Apparently with less than half the state delegates in – and with many of those that have been awarded coming from states that are essentially irrelevant for Democratic Presidential candidates – it’s all over.  Who knew?

For the rest of the day, most of the news centered on the bombings in Brussels.

But that afternoon on All Things Considered, they did a piece with commentary on the so-called "leading candidates'" position on terrorism.  So, first up was Trump’s take, followed by Clinton’s, Cruz’s, then Kasich’s … and that was it.  Apparently, Sanders isn’t a major candidate. Talk about Berni Blackout. 

Then it was off the the Sanders Rally in San Diego, where my wife and I stood in the longest line I’ve ever seen – nearly two miles long at four and five abreast – and waited while the completely overwhelmed staff of the SD Convention Center attempted to cope.  

We showed up at 4 PM, and got into the second overflow room at around 9 PM.  Some had waited in line since early morning.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Not Beatles concerts, not Disneyland, not any of the massive protests on the National Mall (including Viet Nam, Civil Rights, Iraq) -- nothing compared. Sure those events attract more than 20,000, but none of them require people to stand in a two-mile long line. Some folks stood for 12 hours waiting to get in.  You’d think Sanders was giving out the latest Apple gizmo or something.   

He announced at the offset that Hillary had won Arizona, but he expected we’d do well in Utah and Idaho. On the way home we put the news on to see what had happened and to see how the news would cover this massive rally.  Not much.  One piece on NPR about how Hillary was pulling away. 

So How did the press cover this virtually unprecedented event?  When we checked the local news that night they reported that several hundred Bernie fans had showed up for a rally.  The next morning there were a few reports that put the crowd at 10,000 or so.  Fact is, the original hall the Sanders campaign reserved held 10,000, and they ended up with two overflow rooms where his speech appeared on a large screen, and each of those held five or ten thousand.  So at a minimum, 15,000 to 20,000 attended, and more were turned away.

The rest of the news that morning in the corporate media mentioned that Sanders had won Idaho and Utah, and, inexplicably there were a few more of the “Hillary is pulling away/Bernie should get out” variety. 

Yet here’s the bottom line on delegates awarded yesterday. Including delegates form the ex pat primary, as of Wednesday evening Hillary got 66 delegates, while Bernie got 83.  Seems to me, that means he gained ground.  You wouldn’t know it from the Corporate Media, though. 

Mostly they talked about Hillary’s big win in Arizona, and while a few mentioned Sanders’ victories, they almost universally discounted them, and talked about Clinton’s insurmountable lead.  For example, here’s a headline from CNN: Primary Results: Front runners score key Western victories. Or take the The Washington Post, which called Clinton a “big winner” on Tuesday and declared the race all but over.

When they weren’t misleading or misinforming folks about what happened in the Democratic race, they blathered incessantly about Trump, Trump, Trump – while simultaneously wondering why he’s doing so well.  

So even after Sanders closed the gap, the main impression one would get from the corporate media – which includes the corporate funded PBS and NPR – is that Bernie has no chance and that he was slipping further and further behind. 

Is it all over for Bernie?

Not by a long shot.  In reality, he needs to win the remaining primaries by a 60% to 40% margin to get the delegates he needs. Considering he won just shy of 80% of the vote in Idaho and Utah and that many of the remaining states in the West have similar demographics, he’s likely to go into the big state contests in the second half of the contest with a lot of momentum, making the task much easier than the pundits suggest.  On the other hand, some of the biggest prizes are closed primaries which exclude independents, a group Bernie wins big – one reason he does so much better than Hillary against Republicans in head to head races.

Now, about that ex pat primary

It included Americans living abroad all over the world.  They voted overwhelmingly for Sanders – 69% for him, 31% for Clinton.  This may well tell us something about the effect of the Bernieblackout.

While here in the US, the media and the rest of the Establishment either ignores or discounts Sanders, he’s covered as he should be overseas – as a serious contender with mainstream policies that appeal to the majority of Americans.  Yes, that’s right, on an issue-by-issue basis   most Americans agree with Bernie on the major policy choices facing us today.

So the lesson is, Bernie is right – we need a revolution.  One that not only gets money out of politics, but one that seizes the fourth estate back from the clutches of the Oligarchy.

John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and book one of a trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.

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