So what if Clinton won the debate?
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It is amusing to watch and listen to the talking heads on television and the reporting services, both reporters and pundits, all chortling about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMillennials and the great reckoning on race Biden chooses Amanda Gorman as youngest known inaugural poet Can Biden encompass the opposition he embodied? MORE's victory at the podium during the first Democratic debate. But it was all a study in self-fulfilling prophesies. If Vice President Joe Biden isn’t going to run, then Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal Former Sanders spokesperson: Progressives 'shouldn't lose sight' of struggling Americans during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) is her closest rival and he can't possibly win because he's — drum roll here — a socialist. We the people are deeply mired in the bubble of the media's prejudice and conventional thinking.


There are several levels on which the public should be alarmed. These media assessments are based on debating points, not substance. The uniform conviction from these sources was that Clinton scored big points on Sanders over the gun debate and Sanders was not alert enough to defend himself with little more than a lame response about achieving a D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association. Where was the sober assessment of public opinion on the issue of gun control and how do the two candidates differ on the substance of preserving perceived rights under the Second Amendment with public safety? There was none, and there never is a considered exposition of the different levels of the debate. Democrats are barred from taking the Second Amendment into consideration and Republicans are not permitted to talk about banning assault weapons or shutting down loopholes in the system of background checks. In fact, Sanders has been obtuse on gun control and he has difficulty admitting that anything he has stood for in the last 30 years is "evolving" since he prides on having been consistent in his beliefs since the beginning of the Stone Age. The only one to address balancing rights and restrictions was former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). But, of course, whatever he said was meaningless because he wasn't scoring debate points.

Second, the media, all of them, including the presumed sobriety of CNN, are pandering for ratings. There was all the hype and ginned-up anticipation of a battle. There was breathless anticipation of which candidate would attack whomever. There was the continuous interjection of Donald Trump's tweets. While there is no advocacy here for dull debates, there is a thirst for substantive discussion; including Trump in that vein is an oxymoron. One can argue that it is the hype that gets people to watch, but that comes with a patronizing conviction that people are only attracted to the action and not the issues. Where in CNN is the program manager who understood that the action folks were off watching Major League Baseball or wrestling matches?

Finally, the smug arrogance of an industry that has made only the slightest effort to go behind the antiquated stigma associated with the label "socialist" is a disgrace. For every one of the pundits who think that Clinton scored well by dismissing universal healthcare and free college education provided in Denmark with the sneering "Sen. Sanders, America is not Denmark," here is a little news flash: Should not Clinton have received a follow-up question as to whether or not she agreed with these objectives? (Because she doesn't.) She may have sound arguments for why, but we will never know. But she got the debate points with her snarky retort.

Sanders's objective was to reach out and be seen by a larger audience, those who do not know him. It was clear that he was intimidated at times by the staging. It is also clear that his style, age and accent don't put him in the category of polished and mainstream. If the media judgments are to be acknowledged, he wasn't hurt by his performance, but was bested by the style of Clinton. It remains to be seen as to whether or not this exposure will garner results. The message, however, was clear and the facts bear out his positions and his prescriptions.

The one takeaway that the Sanders campaign has to recognize and adjust to must be the predisposed rejection of his candidacy by the folks who report or interpret the news. Now that they feel comforted by Clinton's success, it is very likely that their patronizing will become even uglier than it was before, during and after the debate. In all likelihood, Sanders will continue to enjoy large turnouts, certainly larger than Clinton's. Will he achieve his revolution? We have been waiting 15 years for the middle class in America to wake up and rebel against the government that has promoted income inequality and at this point it looks as if it has to happen outside the world of corporate media if, in fact, if it happens at all.

Russell is managing director of Cove Hill Advisory Services.