When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his Medicare for All legislation last week, he anticipated a massive right-wing reaction—on cue, he got it. But it is ostensibly liberal networks, like MSNBC, that have in recent days launched some of the most aggressive—and in the eyes of critics, absurd—attacks on both Sanders' bill and his decision to debate Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on their "brutal and deadly" Obamacare repeal legislation next week.
"This scurrilous attack sabotages the campaign against Graham-Cassidy and perpetuates a losing mentality and losing election cycle for the corporate Democrats making it."
—Chuck Idelson, National Nurses UnitedThese attacks reached an apex during two Friday morning segments of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," when several pundits—including hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough—and journalists took turns dumping on Medicare for All and Sanders himself, accusing the Vermont senator of "driv[ing] a lot of people towards Lindsey Graham's bill" by agreeing to debate the Graham on a national stage.
"Morning Joe" hosts and panelists charged that Sanders is "stealing the spotlight" and giving Republicans "an absolute gift" by pitting Medicare for All against the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill, which has been described by analysts as the most extreme iteration of Trumpcare yet.
Ultimately, the panel came to the unanimous conclusion that the debate is "politically stupid," that Medicare for All discussions should come "later," and that Democrats should focus solely on pitting the GOP repeal bill against Obamacare—not more ambitious alternatives.
Watch part of the segment:
In an email on Friday, Chuck Idelson, communications director for National Nurses United (NNU), told Common Dreams that "Morning Joe's" rebuke of Sanders could not be more misguided.
Far from acting selfishly and "stealing the spotlight," Sanders "has for months held rallies from coast to coast, including in a number of red states," to denounce and campaign against "the savage, mean-spirited, and elitist GOP bills," Idelson noted.
"This scurrilous attack sabotages the campaign against Graham-Cassidy and perpetuates a losing mentality and losing election cycle for the corporate Democrats making it," Idelson added. "It's both an illogical attack—there was a series of similar GOP bills before this one, long before the Medicare for All bill was introduced—and transparent in its effort both to vilify the most popular politician in the U.S. and to try to sideline the effort to actually fix our healthcare system, not decimate it, with Medicare for All."
"Part of the campaign against the draconian GOP bills should be to actually offer a real alternative to real flaws in the bill."
—Chuck Idelson, National Nurses UnitedAs for the notion that Sanders is playing into the GOP's hands by debating Republicans on their legislation and countering their deadly bill with Medicare for All, the opposite is true, Idelson said.
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"Part of the campaign against the draconian GOP bills should be to actually offer a real alternative to real flaws in the bill," Idelson concluded. "That is Medicare for All."
A Politico/Morning Consult released on Wednesday found that 49 percent of Americans—and 67 percent of Democrats—support single payer, indicating that the public is increasingly in Sanders' corner.
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times Thursday, Adam Johnson, a media analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, pointed out that the attacks launched by the "Morning Joe" panel and others are hardly original.
Johnson labels such critics "concern trolls," defined as people who claim to support a given objective but cannot act on this support due to vaguely expressed "concerns."
"Give it more time. We need more details. Who will pay for it? All meaningful changes to society have been met with these types of objections," Johnson notes. "But the game of politics isn't won by waiting for the ideal. Its most successful actors establish a moral goal and fight for it until reality catches up to them."
As "Morning Joe" chided Sanders for only "looking out for himself," the Vermont senator continued his aggressive push to ensure the failure of the Graham-Cassidy bill—which will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote by the end of next week—by releasing a video featuring two of his healthcare advisors, who explained the devastating impact the legislation would have on public health.
Watch the video:
Why is the latest Republican "health care" bill so immoral? My health care advisors break it down. pic.twitter.com/Qfy1wfsEWa
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 22, 2017