In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDNC chair vote: live coverage Maher to media: ‘Get serious again’ Sanders trolls Trump over claim his rallies would be bigger than protests MORE (I-Vt.) leads Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMaher to media: ‘Get serious again’ The resurrection of the U.S.-Egyptian partnership Fake news? What about Trump’s fake promises? MORE in a presidential match-up by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent. In another recent poll, from CNN/ORC, Sanders also leads the GOP front-runner by 9, 53 percent to 44 percent. In a third poll, from Quinnipiac, Sanders leads Trump by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent. And in the summary polling from RealClearPolitics, as of Wednesday morning, he leads Trump by 3.2 points, 46.6 percent to 43.4 percent.
If NBC or Telemundo is granted permission by Republicans to host a GOP debate — or perhaps during a Trump performance hosting “Saturday Night Live” for 90 minutes, which would be an unseemly gift granted to a presidential candidate by a television network — Trump might be asked this fair question by a panelist who would soon be attacked for liberal bias:
Would Trump, who constantly cites his strength in polling and who has called on competitor Jeb Bush to drop out of the race, drop out himself to prevent every branch of government from being controlled by Democrats, led by the democratic socialist Sanders or Clinton, the latest GOP Public Enemy No. 1?
If Trump were to read this column he might call me a “dope,” as he called the widely respected journalist John Harwood of CNBC, a network not known for having socialist sympathies, or perhaps he would call me a “bimbo,” as he tweeted about the widely respected host Megyn Kelly of Fox News, which has certainly never been accused of liberal bias. He might even try to get me fired as a columnist, a practice he famously perfected on “The Apprentice.”
The question I pose about Sanders beating Trump is highly plausible, because it is based on hard data from two recent polls, including from The Wall Street Journal, hardly a bastion of liberal bias.
On one level let’s give Trump great credit. In this campaign he has been — literally — the most brilliant manager of television news in the modern history of presidential politics. In the years I worked for Democratic leaders, if I had achieved for them the near total domination of network and cable television news coverage that the real estate tycoon has achieved, I would have received the most generous raise in congressional staff history.
My view of Trump is similar to my view of Matt Drudge, who is the most powerful influencer in modern media history when it comes to what is covered by the news business. Drudge towers over the media like a colossus. News leaders read The Drudge Report like Talmudic scholars poring over ancient scrolls. News stories blessed by Drudge flow like mighty rivers from his keyboard to television screens and daily newspapers in living rooms across the nation.
As a liberal Democrat, I am overwhelmed (honestly) by the green monster of jealousy that President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democrats have never figured out that they should assemble their Democratic super-donors to finance ventures to challenge the literal monopoly of news aggregation power that Drudge — who is never accused of liberal bias — has achieved for what he does so brilliantly.
Let’s dismiss the myth of liberal media bias. The CNBC debate was perfectly fair. Harwood, as well as the other debate moderators, has earned the wide respect he has achieved in his career. America is not Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where “debates” are controlled by party hacks and journalists are corrupted by money, seduced by power or intimidated by threats. Our news media should not resemble the news business of Paddy Chayefsky’s timeless film “Network,” as it often does today.
When America’s premier journal of capitalism releases a poll showing the democratic socialist candidate defeating by a landslide margin the capitalist who dominates television news, methinks it is liberals, not conservatives, who have the better argument against bias!
Budowsky was an aide to former Sens. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.