Do the Media Have a Double Standard When It Comes to Bernie Sanders?
Salon’s Simon Maloy points out that while every move of Republican presidential hopefuls is reported by U.S. media, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ideas are either unreported or ridiculed, despite their apparent value in the face of growing inequality.
So Sanders is a long shot, but he’s not without a sizable bloc of support. In fact, when you crunch the numbers, Sanders is outperforming the combined support of several GOP presidential wannabes. The Bernie 2016 boomlet is clearly a bit puzzling to reporters, who don’t seem to know what to do with Sanders beyond treating him as a foil to Hillary, and so they default to doing nothing, even as every utterance of GOP candidates who are polling below 2 percent merits its own headline. There are clear double standards at play, and one of them pertains to how reporters cover a candidate who is unreservedly liberal versus how they cover “proudly conservative” Republicans. This dynamic is sometimes subtle, and it emerged during an interview Sanders gave with CNBC’s John Harwood.
Income inequality and the distribution of wealth are two topics Sanders hammers away at constantly, and during the interview with Harwood he brought up the fact that the top marginal tax rate for income during the 1950s was somewhere around 90 percent. Sanders’ comment took Harwood aback. “When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” he asked. “No,” Bernie shot back. Sanders’ endorsement of the Eisenhower-era tax structure also raised eyebrows at the New York Times, which observed that Sanders “doesn’t flinch over returning to the 90 percent personal income tax rates of the 1950s for top earners.” In these reactions you can easily spy an undercurrent of incredulity that a politician would enthusiastically advocate for rich people to pay more – much, much more – in taxes.
This is what happens after more than three decades of economic policymaking that has enshrined tax cuts as the greatest good one can strive for. For Republicans, the policy is tax cuts everywhere and always and most especially for the rich. For Democrats, it’s tax cuts for the middle class while the wealthy, who benefit disproportionately from a tax structure that is “barely progressive,” are asked only to “pay a little more.” We’ve become so accustomed to historically low rates of taxation for the wealthy that when someone like Sanders comes along and says the rich can and should pay a far higher rate, people assume he’s out to lunch.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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