stickdog99 wrote:“Manufacturing Consent” In Action
PBS NewsHour does a long update on all the candidates except one.
The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should.
They squandered their credibility by promising that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would, as claimed by President Bill Clinton, create 200,000 new, well-paying jobs per year; instead, several million jobs were lost. They squandered it by allowing corporations to move production overseas and hire foreign workers at daily wages that did not equal what a U.S. unionized worker made in an hour, a situation that obliterated the bargaining power of the American working class. They squandered it by allowing corporations to use the threat of “offshoring” production to destroy unions, suppress wages, extract draconian concessions and push millions of workers into the temp and gig economies, where there are no benefits or job security and pay is 60% or less of what a full-time employee in the regular economy receives. They squandered it by forcing working men and women to take two or three jobs to support a family, jacking up household debt to $13.95 trillion. They squandered it by redirecting wealth upward, so that during the Clinton administration alone 45 percent of all income growth went to the wealthiest 1%. They squandered it by wiping out small farmers in Mexico, driving some 3 million of them off their lands and forcing many to migrate in desperation to the United States, a human tide that saw the U.S. right wing and President Trump direct mounting rage toward immigrants. They squandered it by turning our great cities into urban wastelands. They squandered it by slashing welfare and social service programs. They squandered it by supporting endless, futile wars that have an overall price tag of between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. They squandered it by setting up a surveillance system to spy on every American and then lying about it. They squandered it by catering to the big banks and gutting financial regulations, precipitating the 2008 economic meltdown. They squandered it by looting the U.S. Treasury to bail out banks and financial firms guilty of massive financial crimes, ordering the Federal Reserve to hand over an estimated $29 trillion to the global financiers responsible for the crash. They squandered it by not using this staggering sum instead to provide free college tuition to every student or universal health care, repair our crumbling infrastructure, transition to clean energy, forgive student debt, raise wages, bail out underwater homeowners, form public banks to foster investments in our communities at low interest rates, provide a guaranteed minimum income and organize a massive jobs program for the unemployed and underemployed, whose ranks are at least double official statistics. They squandered it by cutting child assistance programs—most drastically during the Clinton administration—resulting in 16 million children going to bed hungry every night. They squandered it by leaving over half a million Americans homeless and on the streets on any given day. They squandered it by passing laws that keep students burdened by massive college loan debt that has climbed to $1.4 trillion, debt they cannot free themselves from even if they declare bankruptcy. They squandered it by militarizing police and building the world’s largest system of mass incarceration, one with 25% of the world’s prison population. They squandered it by revoking due process and habeas corpus. They squandered it by passing massive tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, many of which—such as Amazon—pay no federal income tax, ballooning the federal deficit, now at $779 billion and climbing. They squandered it by privatizing everything from intelligence gathering to public education to swell corporate bank accounts at taxpayer expense. They squandered it by permitting corporate money—an estimated $9.9 billion will be spent this presidential election cycle on political advertising—to buy politicians in a form of legalized bribery that sees corporate lobbyists write legislation and create laws. They squandered it by doing nothing to halt the looming ecocide.
The problem is not messaging. The problem is the messenger. The mortal wounds inflicted on our democratic institutions are bipartisan. The traditional Republican elites are as hated as the Democratic elites. Trump is vile, imbecilic, corrupt and incompetent. But for a largely white working class cast aside by austerity and neoliberalism, he at least taunts the elites who destroyed their communities and their lives.
After polling averages showed him as a frontrunner in the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic nomination contests, journalists predicted South Bend, Indiana, mayor, presidential candidate and “media darling” Pete Buttigieg would be in the hot seat at last month’s MSNBC/Washington Post debate in Atlanta.
“‘Everyone’s Going to Come for Pete’: Buttigieg Faces Debate Spotlight,” declared Politico (11/19/19), claiming the candidate’s “fast rise in recent early-state polls has come with new scrutiny and made him a big target.” Besides the “surge” that made him “a serious threat to the top Democratic presidential candidates” (and thus “makes the debate a serious threat for him”), there had just been what Politico described as a “dust-up”: Buttigieg, whose support among African Americans nationally was, as recently as August, roughly 0% (and who had quite possibly leaked a memo putting that down to black people’s homophobia), had been promoting his “Douglass Plan for Black America” in materials that deceptively implied the endorsement of hundreds of black South Carolinians. All three of the prominent leaders named at the top of one press release (Intercept, 11/15/19) said they were misrepresented.
But despite having a black moderator, and being in a majority-black city, the MSNBC/Washington Post debate only directed a single vaguely worded question about “Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s outreach to African-American voters” to Kamala Harris, with Buttigieg never being directly asked about the Intercept’s report that his campaign fabricated endorsements from prominent black leaders in South Carolina.
The alleged “Buttigieg boom” may now be crumbling under the candidate’s stubborn opacity around his funders and great swaths of his career, as well as the entry into the field of fellow smug centrist Michael Bloomberg. Such as it was, the phenomenon was based largely on two small, white states early in the primary process; Buttigieg showed few signs of breaking out of 4th place—either nationally, or in the larger and more diverse states, like California, that are more representative of the Democratic electorate.
But corporate media have a practice of outsizing the attractiveness and viability of centrist candidates, including shielding them from critical examination (FAIR.org, 7/3/19).
Before suggesting his early wins might put him in their crosshairs, Politico‘s Jack Shafer (4/17/19) had explained media’s coddling of Buttigieg’s candidacy by relating it to the favorable treatment of corporate media’s “previous political shooting star,” former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. “Why the Media Dumped Beto for Mayor Pete” offered a self-conscious list of press-attracting qualities: “plays a decent piano,” “once gave a TEDx talk,” “an old person’s idea of what a young person should be like.” The press corps’ transition to Buttigieg has been seamless, finding in him another candidate who speaks complete sentences, who likes the camera almost as much as it likes him, who subscribes to the usual Democratic articles of faith and scans like a lost episode of The West Wing….
Finally, whenever national political reporters look at the ambitious, conspicuously educated, ticket-punching, aggressively tame candidate Buttigieg, they can’t help but see themselves. Think of their coverage as modest self-assessments.
Savvy enough. However, as FAIR (Extra!, 10/89) has long documented, and as Politico founding editor John Harris (11/7/19) recently admitted, the pervasive force shaping coverage of Washington and elections is what might be thought of as centrist bias, flowing from reporters and sources alike.
In other words, when Politico admits that national political reporters “see themselves” when they look at Buttigieg—who has, e.g., flip-flopped to attack Medicare for All because it would remove “choice,” and more importantly would hurt the profits of the for-profit healthcare industry that is increasingly bankrolling his campaign—we should keep in mind that this identification includes, along with his piano-playing, his status quo, top-down corporate politics on issues from austerity to foreign policy, and his ability to sell this anti-change paradigm while sounding like a visionary.
The emphasis on Buttigieg’s persona at the expense of his policies (to the extent he has actually proposed any) is hardly unique to Politico’s report. It dovetails neatly with the denatured horserace coverage corporate media love so much, that often portrays a lack of voter support as an obstacle to their preferred centrists’ ascent, rather than evidence of a problem with the centrists for not supporting a progressive political agenda representative of most voters. And then, to the extent these media outlets focus on issues, they often reverse reality by describing politicians who do support popular progressive policies as “divisive,” “unelectable” or “unrealistic” (FAIR.org, 7/2/19, 7/30/19, 10/25/19).
The Los Angeles Times (11/10/19) reassured readers that, with “many Democrats growing anxious that an uncompromising progressive at the top of the ticket could push swing states into President Trump’s hands,” Buttigieg is talking “moderation and reconciliation.”
A report on the “37-year-old wonderboy” by CNN’s Chris Cillizza (11/12/19) focused vapidly on whether Buttigieg can “sustain his momentum,” and what “could possibly rain on the Pete parade,” while offering no analysis of what policies Buttigieg actually supports.
Time’s profile, “Mayor Pete’s Unlikely, Untested, Unprecedented Presidential Campaign” (5/2/19), openly admitted that Buttigieg’s campaign “is more about who he is” and “what he represents” than “what he’ll do if he’s president,” given that “unlike many of his opponents, he hasn’t posted any detailed policy proposals on his website.” Time noted that “winning voters of color may be difficult,” supposedly because Buttigieg is a “white guy” running against “black senators,” and other white guys like Joe Biden who have “long-standing relationships in black communities”—not because his mayoral record and presidential campaign suggest that he doesn’t value people of color or what they want.
Politico (11/19/19) presented Buttigieg’s “failure to gain traction” with black people as primarily a potential weapon for his opponents, who might “link” it to his electability. Bloomberg’s report, “Pete Buttigieg Embraces Top-Tier Status With New Message of Unity” (11/5/19), similarly described “his lack of support among black voters” as “a significant hurdle for Buttigieg”—framing voters’ lack of interest as an obstacle to a politicians’ ambitions, rather than as an expression of democratic preference.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal (11/11/19) declared that the “hottest Democratic presidential candidate right now is Pete Buttigieg,” and suggested that because people believe mayors can’t hide “from either problems or their own decisions,” that relatively small-arena experience could “be more political asset than liability.” The New York Times’ “Pete Buttigieg Tests 230 Years of History: Why Can’t a Mayor Be President?” (11/18/19) echoed the Journal by daringly speculating that the “vagueness” of being a mayor of a “less well-known” place like South Bend “may be an asset” in overcoming the fact that Americans have “never elected a sitting mayor to the presidency.”
USA Today’s “Rising Star? Seven Hurdles Facing Democrat Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 Presidential Campaign” (4/14/19) listed among these “Running as a White Male,” as if belonging to the same demographic group as 33 out of 35 previous nominees was a particular hardship. Not considered such a “hurdle”: his lack of support for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college or taxing the wealthy, despite all these policies being popular with voters, particularly Democratic ones (In These Times, 11/15/19).
USA Today’s later front-page article, “Buttigieg Has Voters Seeing and Believing” (11/18/19), labored to disengage the personal and political in Buttigieg’s sexual orientation. “It’s that combination of attributes—moderate, high-achieving and a person of faith—that makes Buttigieg far more than a one-note candidate,” the story states, countering a claim made by no one in particular. Sources claim both that Buttigieg’s candidacy is a “game changer” for LGBTQ Americans and that he’s “not running as a gay candidate”—echoing the way pundits back in 2007 marveled that Barack Obama was black, but “has never positioned himself as the black candidate” (Extra!, 3–4/07).
“Buttigieg has stood out,” the paper tells us, “not for being gay but for winning over voters with his intelligence, message of unity and pragmatism.” The proffered examples are his call for “Medicare for all who want it,” his opposition to free college and his view of the Green New Deal as a “set of goals” for addressing climate change, but “not as a way to overhaul the economy.”
Compare and contrast coverage of Buttigieg with the constant reports of a besieged Sanders campaign teetering on the brink of collapse, that is “struggling” despite continually being among the top three candidates in national polling, breaking records for individual donations and having the largest crowd sizes at rallies. FAIR (5/25/16) found that one of corporate media’s more cynical talking points in the 2016 election cycle was that Sanders hadn’t been properly “vetted” with proper scrutiny and criticism, despite plenty of contrary evidence. Corporate media concern trolled about his “electability,” even though polls at the time consistently showed that Sanders had a higher chance of beating Donald Trump in a general election (FAIR.org, 11/11/16). Notice that while corporate media speculation about liabilities with Buttigieg’s candidacy have almost nothing to do with his milquetoast platform, their objections to Bernie Sanders’ candidacy have very much to do with his “too far left” progressive agenda.
One can hardly imagine how corporate media would’ve treated Bernie Sanders if he had been caught fabricating major black endorsements following reports of struggling with black voters. If he had been caught flip-flopping on issues like Medicare for All while taking money from billionaires (Fortune, 10/24/19; Common Dreams, 11/22/19), on the other hand, corporate media might even praise Sanders for being “pragmatic” just like Buttigieg. Such outlets, after all, don’t care as much about winning elections as they do about blocking the threat of a progressive political movement (FAIR.org, 4/16/19, 8/21/19).
Buttigieg omitted high-powered bundlers from disclosure
The financial supporters not named by the campaign include former ambassadors and wealthy investors.
By MAGGIE SEVERNS
Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign omitted more than 20 high-level fundraisers from a list of top bundlers it disclosed last week.
The public list of bundlers, featuring more than 100 people who have raised at least $25,000 for Buttigieg, was meant to bring a close to more than a week of feuding between Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren over campaign transparency. But the list left off a number of people the Buttigieg campaign had previously touted as top donors in an internal campaign fundraising report obtained by POLITICO.
They include uberwealthy supporters such as Boston power broker Jack Connors Jr. — who declared he was “all in for Pete Buttigieg” in a June fundraiser invite — and Hollywood producer Jordan Horowitz, whose films include "La La Land." Buttigieg also omitted hedge fund investor John Petry; William Rahm, senior managing director at the private equity firm Centerbridge Partners; Nicole Avant, the former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas; and former U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Phillips. The latter two were also major Obama donors.
Story Continued Below
Candidates voluntarily disclose bundlers to signal forthrightness and allay concerns about conflicts of interest, and lists of bundlers — people who are frequently rewarded with ambassadorships and nominations to other administration posts — offer important windows into the high-powered networks that support candidates like Buttigieg.
In a statement, the Buttigieg campaign said it had made an error and would update its public list of campaign bundlers “to include an accurate accounting.”
The campaign said the error happened as it tallied the total amount of money the bundlers had raised.
“In creating this updated list, we went through to recalculate totals from the earlier list to make sure we were being accurate,” campaign spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement. Some people who had been previously disclosed in a document to donors were “inadvertently” not listed again in the disclosure Friday, Meagher continued.
But critics — who have already been wary of the Buttigieg campaign’s approach to transparency — said Buttigieg’s campaign has not been as forthcoming with information as it claims.
“Producing data four days after they were asked for it with obvious omissions, that is sketchy,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project, which scrutinizes executive branch appointees, and a frequent Buttigieg critic. “The first time I saw this list, I said, 'There is no way this is comprehensive.' It’s just kind of mind-blowing that they would be this dishonest.”
Buttigieg is the only major current candidate who has disclosed campaign bundlers. Kamala Harris disclosed her bundlers before she ended her bid, while Bernie Sanders and Warren do not attend big-money private fundraisers. But other 2020 rivals — including Joe Biden, who has been frequenting the big-donor circuit — are not revealing their bundlers, though there is a tradition of both Democratic and Republican candidates doing so. President Donald Trump has also not revealed his top fundraisers.
While Buttigieg published a list of bundlers on his website last week, the campaign privately circulated the names of people in its “Investors Circle” — fundraisers who had raised at least $25,000 — in a finance update this summer. The 20 people and couples on that document who weren’t on Buttigieg’s public bundler list last week are: Andrew Tobias of New York; Barbara and Rodge Cohen of Irvington, N.Y.; David Winter of New York; Didem Nisanci of Washington; Eli Cohen of Chevy Chase, Md.; Eric Schieber of Chicago; Freddy Balsera of Miami; Genevieve and Robert Lynch of New York; Hamilton South of Cornwall, Conn.; Jack Connors of Boston; John Petry of New York; John Phillips of Washington; Jordan Horowitz of Los Angeles; Kelly Bavor of Atherton, Calif.; Kyle Keyser of Atlanta; Nicole Avant of Los Angeles; Stephen Patton of Chicago; Ted Dintersmith of Charleston, S.C.; Tom Gearen of Chicago; and William Rahm of New York.
Buttigieg has combined the power of low-dollar online fundraising and big events with wealthy supporters to become one of the most successful fundraisers in the Democratic field. He has raised $51 million in his bid for president as of Sept. 30, the most recent fundraising deadline, with 47 percent of the contributions coming from donors who gave less than $200.
But as Buttigieg’s poll numbers have risen in Iowa and New Hampshire, critics on the left are accusing the South Bend, Ind., mayor of failing to live up to Democratic Party ideals. Protesters picketed outside a Buttigieg fundraiser in New York last week, chanting “Wall Street Pete.” Warren, who is competing with Buttigieg for the top spot in February's Iowa caucuses, has been particularly critical, calling out Buttigieg for offering donors “regular phone calls and special access.”
Buttigieg recently began allowing media access to his campaign fundraisers in response to some of that criticism.
Buttigieg, who like other candidates is racing to bank millions of dollars to spend on television and field staff in Iowa and other early voting states, has continued hitting high-dollar fundraisers at breakneck speed between his campaign stops. On Monday morning, the families of several of Silicon Valley’s biggest executives — including spouses and relatives of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg — assembled in Palo Alto, Calif., for an event supporting Buttigieg.
The night before, Buttigieg was in Napa Valley, where Buttigieg and donors dined under a chandelier adorned with 1,500 Swarovski crystals in cavernous room known as a “wine cave.” “Needless to say, we will never have a fundraiser at a wine cave,” Sanders' campaign wrote Monday in a fundraising email to supporters.
Speaking to the crowd in Napa, Buttigieg urged his donors to redouble their work.
“I’m asking to you to work to share whatever it is that brought you here to those that may have gotten a little more cynical about the whole thing,” Buttigieg told the donors. “If we do that, as bleak as things are in our country circa December 2019, my hope and my faith is that, in a few years, we’ll be able to look back on 2020 with pride."
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) may be the top-tier presidential contender set to have the best January.
Unlike Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) he won't be pulled off the campaign trail for an impeachment trial of still-to-be-determined length, and unlike former Vice President Joe Biden, he won't have to answer questions about his role in the controversy surrounding impeachment.
Instead, he'll have the opportunity to hit the campaign trail and focus on kitchen table issues that voters say they care most about, such as health care and the economy, at a time when the country is still divided on impeachment.
“If Buttigieg has the opportunity to talk more about kitchen table issues that voters really care about — their financial well-being, their health care — and the other candidates are out there talking about impeachment, whether they're playing offense or defense, then that gives him more of an opportunity to score points with those voters,” said Michael Gordon, a Democratic strategist and principal at Group Gordon.
The impeachment process comes as Buttigieg has begun to plateau in a number of polls after experiencing a bump in November and December. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday, for example, showed Buttigieg dropping from second to fourth place.
Buttigieg will now have a chance to be at the center of attention with the critical early primary and caucus voters who will help determine the next Democratic nominee.
She tore into Pete Buttigieg and swiped at Bernie Sanders. And by the time the debate ended Thursday, it appeared that Amy Klobuchar might have a chance.
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