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Vice’s rebranding is an interesting development


Over the course of two presidential campaigns, Sanders has found a measure of success bypassing traditional outlets, particularly cable news. In 2020, he built a campaign that resembles a digital media company, with its own podcast and television show and newsletters that highlight Sanders’s policies (and negative coverage of his opponents). But Sanders’s post-Super Tuesday slide has also underscored the limitations of this approach, the need for more media allies, and the persistent influence of cable news. There are many explanations for Sanders’s lack of support among older people; cable news, which is disproportionately watched by the elderly, is one of them.

A number of news outlets are seeking to fill the sizable gap to MSNBC’s left. Though they’re emerging too late to aid Sanders’s presidential run, they are jockeying to become a go-to news source for his movement. And while these emerging outlets and shows may not yet present a serious ratings challenge to the old guard, they may end up pushing mainstream networks to the left.

Vice is the largest and most interesting new entrant. The media company is rebranding yet again, after experiments in prestige nightly news partnerships, comedy, and more traditional late night fare. As The New York Times’s Ben Smith reported earlier this week, “Vice’s research, from the expensive strategy firm Magid, found what populists everywhere are discovering: Angry outsiderism is a growth industry.” Vice’s television chief Morgan Hertzen told Smith the network’s new mantra is: “The everything system is broken — let’s fix it together.” Its first big acquisition is Anand Giridharadas, the author of Winners Take All, who has become a star as a rare populist voice on MSNBC, particularly Morning Joe

“When you get to that level of television, everyone is prosperous at the table,” Giridharadas told Smith. “I’m not sure I’ve ever sat next to an uninsured person on television. I sit next to uninsured people on the subway all the time.”

Vice’s goal is to create a network around which the populist left can coalesce. At the moment, the lefty television landscape is small and fragmented. Some shows, like Sam Seder’s Majority Report and The Young Turks, have seen a rise in popularity in recent years (though the latter is currently embroiled in a union-busting controversy, with creator and host Cenk Uygur claiming the company is in a precarious financial position).

Krystal Ball, the host of The Hill TV’s Rising—a Crossfire-ish YouTube show that pits Ball against Saagar Enjeti, a conservative populist—attributed the show’s success (it has 3.5 million viewing hours in the past 25 days) to its willingness to say things that the networks won’t. People like the show, she said, because “rather than smearing or dismissing these mass populist movements, there’s an attempt to understand why people are voting the way they’re voting.”

A major problem with MSNBC’s coverage is the lack of genuine ideological diversity on many of its shows. The network likes to think that Joe Scarborough and James Carville represent the totality of the American political spectrum, but there are actually fewer Sanders-style leftists on the network than his popularity would warrant. Shows like Rising or Vice’s new programming could increase pressure on MSNBC and other cable networks to take the left more seriously. “You have to do everything you can, even if it’s not taken seriously, to get heard by the mainstream,” Ball told me.



With the nation’s attention fixed on the rapidly spreading coronavirus, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation to extend FBI surveillance powers that were set to expire on March 15.

The bill, formally titled the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act, cleared the House by a vote of 278 to 136, with 152 Democrats and 126 Republicans voting yes. View the full roll call here.

The legislation, strongly opposed by civil liberties groups and privacy advocates, is the product of bipartisan negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.).

Attorney General William Barr voiced his support for the measure in a statement on Wednesday.

Don midwest
Don midwest

“work from within if you disagree with the party”


even if you are one of the most important politicians in the nation’s history, you have a continual up hill battle to bring about changes needed for the future

both factions’ goal is to preserve the status quo

bring in Orwell’s 1984 with dems support

“no one could have predicted”

hard to hide from a pandemic

and slow Joe says he would veto medicare for all

is the pandemic a help or a hindrance to the Bernie movement?

my response is to ring more doorbells here in OH

Don midwest
Don midwest

WA Post set record with 16 negative columns in one day in 2016 primary

Over the years, liked work of Dana Millbank

but he has this

Let me be perfectly clear: Sen. Bernie Sanders has lost the Democratic presidential nomination.

Barring Joe Biden forgetting his own name or being made into a hamburger by anti-dairy activists, Sanders has no credible chance after another primary-night trouncing on Tuesday. What Sanders did in Burlington, Vt., on Wednesday, therefore, was not a continuation of his presidential campaign but the beginning of a new campaign: that of spoiler

As Jeremy Scahill says, you don’t have to earn my vote, you just tell me how to vote

The DC crowd wants to put a nail in the coffin

The Bernie Sanders spoiler campaign begins

the dems think they can win without a campaign

like they did with Hillary


There are still big states at stake. NY for one. There are still votes being counted, irregularities, etc. Only about a third of delegates have been awarded. Any of the establishment hack politicians would take it to the convention. Why shouldn’t Bernie??? Are they afraid of the “Million to Milwaukee” turning into 1968?


FL votes on St. Patty’s Day: 3/17. The DNCrooks forget about us.



Joe Biden has taken a commanding lead in the Democratic presidential primary. It is far from over in mathematical terms, but it would take a drastic shakeup of the race at this point for Bernie Sanders to mount a comeback. His last serious opportunity will likely be the next debate on March 15.

For anyone who believes in any kind of representative theory of democracy, this is a baffling situation. Big majorities of Democratic voters report they want Medicare-for-all, and many even express favorable opinions of socialism. Yet they are voting for a candidate whose record is arguably the most conservative of any Democratic nominee since 1976. What gives?

One big part of the answer is watching Fox News in the White House even as we speak. Donald Trump blew a hole in American politics — and Joe Biden is strolling right through it.

The first lesson Trump taught the Biden campaign is that there are now almost no standards for presidential candidates. Trump spews forth a constant firehose of scandal, corruption, and dishonesty that utterly dominates political media coverage. The mainstream political press at the best of times is extremely bad at prioritizing, but Trump has given it the attention span of a sugar-addled toddler. Stories that would have gotten weeks-long coverage a decade ago now get only a couple days, if that.

As a result, Biden has shrugged off several disastrous missteps that would have ended a campaign in the pre-2016 era. Recently he was caught making up a bizarre self-aggrandizing story (not the first time) about being arrested trying to visit Nelson Mandela, which would have been a major scandal in the press in previous ages. Indeed, Biden’s first campaign for president imploded when he was caught plagiarizing a speech from British politician Neal Kinnock. But the Mandela fabrication got almost no attention — at least for the moment.

Even corruption in the Biden family has been largely ignored. As I have argued, Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to gin up a fake investigation of Biden over his son Hunter getting a no-show job was an impeachable abuse of power. Nevertheless, Hunter getting a $50,000-per month job he had no qualifications for was very obviously about trading on his father’s name and position — the kind of corrupt logrolling that saturates the global plutocratic elite. And it’s not just him — the FBI recently raided the headquarters of a company linked to Biden’s brother James in an apparent embezzlement investigation. James allegedly promised “a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections,” and introduced the head of the company to Joe Biden, Politico reports. James got a large personal loan from the company, but the funding he had promised allegedly never materialized.

It is especially remarkable that these stories have gotten no traction given how they undercut the strongest case against Trump in a general election. Biden is a singularly non-credible messenger for the argument that people should vote against Trump because of his bad trade deals, or because he is accused of abuse of women, or because he has proposed to cut Social Security and Medicare, or because he is corrupt, or because he is plainly mentally unfit to hold office. If Biden is the nominee, Democrats will be forced to twist up arguments that Biden’s bad characteristics or associations in all these areas are not as bad as Trump, rather than simply better.

And yet, that appears to be what is happening. Biden is not Trump, and cable news, NPR, and the Democratic establishment tells worried base voters that he will be strongest in November, so it must be him. End of discussion.

Now, Biden still could win the general election, especially if there is a big recession from the coronavirus epidemic. But even if so, the next president is going to have to handle multiple gigantic disasters simultaneously — climate change, cancerous inequality, and possibly a financial crisis and recession, all while rebuilding the entire federal bureaucracy from the smoking ruin Trump has created. Even in his prime Biden was an unproductive and undisciplined politician. Come 2024, the United States may be in for something a lot worse than Trump.



The main lesson of the Democratic primaries is the growing generational divide in US politics, one that reflects the deep and disruptive shifts taking place in the US economy. Former Vice President Joe Biden has captured the votes of older Democrats; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the votes of younger Democrats. Both Sanders and Biden outpace Trump in head-to-head polls, and in a recent poll, Biden leads Trump among voters of all ages, with the margin narrowing significantly among older voters. It is vital to understand the generational divide both to address America’s glaring crises and to peer ahead to the future of American politics.

These extraordinary voting differences by age reflect ongoing disruptive changes in the American economy; the share of secure, well-paid jobs in the workforce is shrinking as a result of the digital revolution. A century ago, machines displaced agricultural workers. In recent decades, increasingly capable robots have replaced assembly-line workers.

Today, the e-commerce wave is displacing shopworkers, while automated data systems are replacing clerical and administrative work. Transport and warehousing employment will be the next to go. National income is shifting away from wages to capital, and notably to capital income that accrues to higher education, intellectual property and digital platforms.

This is a key reason why stock markets have soared while wages have stagnated during the past generation, and why stable work has been replaced by gig work. Capital owners have added to the ever-increasing inequality by using their political clout to amplify their market-based successes with political prizes as well: tax cuts on corporate and personal income, and the ready access to tax havens providing safety from stringent enforcement.

From the perspective of a young person, especially the roughly three out of every five young people who do not earn a bachelor’s degree, and the roughly 70% of graduates who will earn a Bachelor’s degree together with debt, today’s economy is deeply threatening. Jobs are precarious; paychecks are low and stagnant; and healthcare coverage is either crushingly expensive or simply unaffordable. And workers know that today’s low unemployment is cyclical and therefore evanescent, vulnerable to the coronavirus epidemic, trade wars, budget deficits, climate shocks, or a number of other factors that can easily turn the economy into recession. Young people know that when the downturn arrives, there will be little social protection.

Moreover, they have little — if any — financial savings, and many have few prospects to buy a home. The formerly soaring stock market is something between an irrelevance and a provocation. Add to this the realistic fears of massive climate change combined with crippling public debts and higher future taxes to service them. It adds up to a perfect storm.

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