Accuracy in Media

The media coverage surrounding Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign mostly ignored his past statements, actions, and political maneuvers as a longtime public servant. But, after his win in the Nevada caucuses this weekend, elements of the mainstream media admit that Sanders’ past could come back to haunt him on the campaign trail. NBC News admitted such in its recent political analysis of Sanders’ past.

NBC News headlined its concern for Sanders’ past statements in the form of a question, “Will Bernie Sanders’ long-ago praise of Socialist regimes hurt Democrats in November?” The analysis detailed Sanders’ multiple pro-socialist (or pro-communist) quotes over the years and how it could spell trouble for his 2020 campaign.

For example, NBC News received a copy of a letter a constituent sent to then-Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders in 1985. Sanders had returned from a trip to Nicaragua, then run by a socialist and USSR-backed government, and called the situation “complex.” Nicaragua suspended civil liberties under the military dictatorship and Sanders agreed that the Nicaraguan government had a right to do so. Due to the “brutal war” Nicaragua was involved in, Sanders said that it was rational that the government suspended civil liberties to prevent foreign subversion in its affairs. He specifically pointed out that the Nicaraguan government’s enemies were “totally financed by the most powerful nation on earth,” or in other words, the United States of America. Sanders cited several historical examples of governments restricting civil liberties in times of war, such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese-American civilians in World War Two.

The news outlet noted other examples of pro-socialist quotes and statements, such as a 1972 quote to Vermont junior high school students that U.S. policy in Vietnam was “almost as bad as what Hitler did.” He also called Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega “a very impressive guy” and did not mention Ortega’s human rights abuses. But NBC News failed to mention other information linking Sanders to socialism, such as his support in 1980 and 1984 for the Socialist Workers Party.

Although NBC News was fair in its analysis about Sanders’ past praising socialist movements and governments, it left out other relevant information. Accuracy in Media has called out the media for ignoring Sanders’ past and it is overdue for the media to publish serious analyses of Sanders’ past support and praise for socialism.

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