Game Changed: MSNBC Throws Bernie Into a Fire, Hillary Into a Pillow Fight


After months of displaying a demonstrable anti-Hillary Clinton and pro-Bernie Sanders bias, something seems to have changed at MSNBC, if the network’s two most recent interviews are any indication. Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who only ever take time out from attacking Hillary to fluff Donald Trump, conducted a nearly 40-minute interview with Clinton that was softer than a warm roll of Charmin. The interview aired Friday morning, and here’s a taste of what Hillary faced on that snuggly firing line:

Even the brief foray into Hillary’s email “scandal” was as gentle as a baby aspirin.

By contrast, Bernie Sanders did an hour-long town hall special with Chris Matthews Thursday night, and the questioning there went beyond adversarial and into sneering derisiveness that was just this side of abusive:

Now, there are ways and there are ways to conduct a “tough” interview, but spending 14 minutes stuck in the same ditch while you yell at a guy is just a waste of everyone’s time. Whether you like Bernie’s answer or you don’t, it shouldn’t take any grown adult fourteen minutes to get it to sink in. Sanders seemed to grasp this as well, because in the highlight of the interview, he finally loses patience with Matthews, gets it back, and loses it again. I love the way he winds up lowering his voice to a near-whisper, as if he’s calming an excited toddler:

Sanders: I have to say this respectfully. You’re a nice guy. You’re missing the point, all right? You’re missing the point. If you look at politics today as a zero sum total, if you’re looking at 63% of the American people not voting, 80% of the young people not voting, billionaires buying elections, you’re right. I’m not looking at that world.

Matthews: How is that going to change the day you’re in office? You won’t have a Supreme Court on your side. You need 60 votes.

Sanders: We’re going around in circles.

It amazes me that in all that time, neither of them got around to mentioning that if there really were to be a revolutionary mobilization around Sanders’ message, then there would be 60 votes, since the best way voters can affect a political revolution is by, y’know, voting. I’d find both Democratic candidates’ messages a lot more compelling if they would at least ask for a majority, instead of imagining one or another kind of Jedi magic.

But that’s beside the point here. This pair of interviews seems to signal a media narrative shift that’s pretty stark, a bait-and-switch away from Hillary as damaged goods vs. upstart Bernie, and to a Hillary who’s turned the corner and a Bernie who can’t possibly do anything ever.

Hillary Clinton supporters might find this a refreshing change, but a softball interview like that doesn’t do her any favors, nor does haranguing Bernie like a rabid chihuahua for fifteen minutes. Really good, challenging questions are an opportunity for candidates, especially in settings like these, and both candidates were denied those opportunities, as were voters. I still haven’t heard how Hillary Clinton plans to get us to universal coverage, or how Bernie Sanders plans on convincing Americans to ignore his foreign policy blind spot when some yoyo scares the crap out of them in a couple of months by hollering “ISIS.”

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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