It is the essence of American liberalism to trash radical dreams and then dance on them. And that’s just what the New York Times did the day after Bernie Sanders bowed out of the Democratic race for the nomination. On that day, in a special editorial, the editors of the very same paper that disparaged his every move opined that America is divided and our democracy corrupt and launched a series promising to report on just the sort of transformative policies Sanders advocated.
“A great divide separates affluent Americans, who fully enjoy the benefits of life in the wealthiest nation on earth, from the growing portion of the population whose lives lack stability or any real prospect of betterment," they write.
In the Times' world, it’s apparently ok to bemoan a society and an economy that privileges the rich over the poor, but it’s unacceptable to run for the presidency on a promise to reverse those priorities.
"The United States has a chance to emerge from this latest crisis as a stronger nation, more just, more free, and more resilient. We must seize the opportunity,” write the editors.
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The words look pretty on the page, snug in among the Tiffany ads. But when a campaign seeks to seize not just opportunity but power—and spread it around—the same paper’s reporters and headline writers called that campaign and the candidate leading it “threatening,” “menacing” and “unelectable.”
“The wealthy are particularly successful in blocking changes they don’t like,” the Times writes now, as if their own paper has played no role in that. On the eve of the decisive March 10th Midwest primaries, the week before which Sanders was leading in the polls, columnist Thomas Friedman redbaited Bernie for the umpteenth time, deliberately distorting democratic socialism as Stalinism and accusing Sanders of “demonizing the engines of capitalism and job creation."
The truth is, the New York Times, the paper of record of U.S. liberalism, likes the progressive pose. With gravitas, they write that out of the coronavirus crisis “there’s a chance to build a better America.”
But it didn’t take a pandemic to wake 13 million Americans to that chance and to vote for it in 2016, or 2.1 million of them to contribute to that effort in this race. Those millions didn’t need all this new, unnecessary death to hear the death knell sounding for status quo America. What they needed was a fairer chance against the establishment media.