By Danielle Ryan
12 Feb, 2020
Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, but it appears this is such a hard pill for US media to swallow, that they’ve simply decided to ignore it — or at least frame it in a way that somehow makes winning sound bad.
Perusing mainstream coverage of the night, the casual observer of American politics could be forgiven for thinking a nice smiling lady called Amy Klobuchar was the star of the show. In fact, the avidly centrist Minnesota Senator came in third place — yet she gobbled up a disproportionate chunk of news coverage.
Incredibly, some of the night’s headlines didn’t even include the word ‘Sanders’ at all. “Amy Klobuchar gets her moment in New Hampshire,”gushed CNN. “New Hampshire gives Klobuchar major boost, puts Biden and Warren on 2020 life support,” Fox News wrote. “Pete Buttigieg finishes second in New Hampshire primary, Amy Klobuchar third,” a tweet from Reuters read.
Sorry to be a bother, but does anyone know who actually won? Is “strong third” the new first? Is that how this works now? Apparently so, according to MSNBC.
Third place is better than first place pic.twitter.com/yLFZUCe1kA
— Sam Sacks (@SamSacks) February 11, 2020
Sanders’ victory was overshadowed by media pundits trying to console themselves as their favorite narrative of the democratic socialist’s supposed “electability problem” was dealt a serious blow.
The Vermont senator has now won the popular vote in both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Well, you’d barely know it from the headlines or listening to the pundits on the cable news networks.
Remember all those commentators who insisted that Hillary Clinton was the real winner against Donald Trump in 2016, because she won the popular vote? Oops! It looks like in 2020 we’ve gone back to the popular vote being irrelevant again, because a socialist candidate is leading the pack. Come on, keep up.
It is undeniably true that Klobuchar’s rise from complete irrelevance to capture third place in NH is a significant achievement — but it’s not earth-shattering. These things can happen in American primaries. What is remarkable, however, is that Sanders has been a consistent frontrunner, raking in small-dollar donations and leading in national polls — but he is treated as an irrelevant and bothersome sideshow who “can’t win.”
Meanwhile, through multiple gaffes and major controversies, the same media has drilled it into Americans’ heads that former Vice President Joe Biden is the one true “electability candidate.” Maybe now that Biden placed a calamitous fifth place and fled the state before the polls had even closed they will finally give up that “electability” lark?
As reality dawned on Sanders’ media critics on Tuesday night, a new and even more absurd narrative began to emerge: He’s only winning because Klobuchar and Buttigieg are splitting the ‘real’ electability vote. Do votes mean nothing when Sanders wins them? Votes for Klobuchar and Buttigieg are “electable” votes — but more votes for Sanders? Well, that’s not relevant.
On MSNBC, which is particularly and viciously hostile to Sanders, pundits tied themselves into knots trying to downplay his victory. At one stage, Chris Matthews argued that Sanders didn’t really win, because if you added Klobuchar and Buttigieg’s votes together, they “trounced” him.
Earth to MSNBC studios: It doesn’t work that way.
Chris Matthews says he's "a little frustrated" with Bernie Sanders' NH victory, brushing it off because Klobuchar and Buttigieg combined "trounced Bernie tonight," and finally comparing Sanders' campaign to Pat Buchanan's in 1996. pic.twitter.com/YLRY7Axg3R
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 12, 2020
Lawrence O’Donnell tried to spin it from another angle, arguing that the real “story” of the night was that Sanders had “lost ground” in the state since winning 60 percent of the vote there in 2016. Nevermind that he had one significant opponent (Clinton) in 2016 and four in 2020.
There’s a long way to go in this race and anything can happen, but one thing is clear: If any other candidate was in Bernie Sanders’ position right now, we would not be witnessing this mental gymnastics by the media to downplay their success
* Danielle Ryan, is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ
Published at https://www.rt.com/