Factchecking NPR’s Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders | FAIR
As the two journalists continued to chat, Liasson took closer aim at Sanders, stating with bold authority that “you don’t even need to do the research part of oppo-research because his policy positions are opposed by big majorities of Americans.” Clearly, these journalists did little to no research preparing for this important broadcast. So many polls have documented what the public thinks about Sanders’ policy positions, and the evidence is overwhelming: From a wealth tax to minimum wage, they are extremely popular.
Last March, a CNBC/All-American poll illustrates this: support for paid maternity leave, 85%; government funding for childcare, 75%; boosting the minimum wage, 60%; free college tuition, 57%. Medicare for all came in at 54%. In October 2019, The Hill reported on an American Barometer survey that found “70% of the public supported providing ‘Medicare for All,’ also known as single-payer healthcare.”
Notably, the only issue included in that poll that garnered only a 28% approval rating was Andrew Yang’s idea of a universal basic income, even with the slogan “freedom dividend,” something Sanders has not focused on.
Another key policy proposal with broad public support is a wealth tax that both Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll (1/10/20), nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that the very rich should pay more. Among 4,441 respondents, 64% strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs.” Support among Democrats was even stronger, at 77%, but a majority of Republicans, 53%, also agree with the idea.
Liasson continued with a carefully selected list of “unpopular” positions that Sanders has taken: “He wants to ban fracking and somehow win Pennsylvania.” But a poll released days earlier (Pittsburgh City Paper, 1/30/20) found that 48% of Pennsylvania voters support a ban on fracking, and just 39% opposed a ban; 49% felt the environmental risks outweighed the economic benefits, with 38% taking the reverse position.
“Even a majority of Democrats don’t want to end private health insurance,” she exclaimed. Actually, 77% of Democrats support “a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare for All, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan”—as do 61% of independents (KFF, 1/30/20).
What can we take away from this sad story brought to listeners by two formidable journalists, one who recently received high praise for her hardball questioning (NPR, 1/24/20) of Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? Their ignorance is willful, and finds its roots in a profoundly ideological position, an ideology adopted by journalists who favor and are rewarded by corporate arguments promoted by corporate Democrats.