On Thursday, February 20th, the top headline on the Home Page of the Huffington Post website — a mouthpiece for the Democratic National Committee to reach and persuade a largely young and female progressive Democratic electorate — was “Finally, The Real Elizabeth Warren Steps Up: The gloves came off at the Democratic primary debate in Vegas.” The site’s lead article said:
Again and again on Wednesday night, Warren humiliated former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ― not only by presenting him with his own words but also by pressing him to release an unknown number of women who worked for him from nondisclosure agreements pertaining to sexual harassment. Bloomberg refused.
But Bloomberg wasn’t the only source of her ire. In less than a minute, she pummeled three other opponents ― former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ― on health care.
It praised her throughout as “the Warren who made Wall Street executives wilt at Senate hearings and became a feminist icon on the left for refusing to stop speaking when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to silence her. It’s the Elizabeth Warren who infuriated President Barack Obama by attacking his trade agenda and assailing his budget deals with Republican leaders.”
It praised her, such as “She speaks loudly and carries a big stick ― frequently against her own party. She was Obama’s chief antagonist over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that ultimately failed due to opposition from progressive Democrats and a sizable block of House Republicans.” Actually, however, she and Sanders both led different aspects of the campaign to sink President Obama’s TPP and TTIP mega-trade treaties, but the article doesn’t even so much as mention Sanders, except with regret at its very end, to say that he might win the nomination instead of her — as if that would be unfortunate.
This sales-pitch was aimed at Democrats who are more progressive than Obama was, and it aims at getting Bernie Sanders voters to switch to supporting Elizabeth Warren instead. If it had been a paid advertisement for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, it couldn’t have done a more effective job of diminishing Warren’s real opponent, who is the more authentic (and far more widely trusted) progressive, in this electoral contest: Sanders.
If Democratic Party billionaires won’t be able to get Democratic Party voters to vote for their favorites, Buttigieg, Klobucar, Biden, and Bloomberg, then Warren is their backup person, or fall-back Democrat to run against Donald Trump in the Fall, because Sanders is totally unacceptable to them. This is what Sanders really means when he talks about a “revolution”: it’s taking the Democratic Party back from its billionaires, who have controlled it nonstop ever since at least 1992. Even Warren is acceptable to them — only Sanders is not.
The billionaires who control Huffington Post and all of the other major ‘news’ media hire people not only to write such articles but to be editors or producers who will place them on the front page or otherwise at maximum public attention, so as to determine what the public will notice and what they won’t.
Their other major headline of the day was “5 Takeaways From The Nevada Democratic Presidential Debate”. These “Takeaways” were:
1. Bloomberg took a punch. And another punch. And then another one. And another one. …
2. Elizabeth Warren came ready to fight. …
3. Buttigieg and Klobuchar really don’t seem to like each other. …
4. The “Medicare For All” fight you have definitely heard before isn’t going anywhere. …
5. Bernie Sanders isn’t going anywhere either.
That last one was (complete here):
Sanders is a leading candidate. He’s rising in the polls. He looks poised to win the caucuses in Nevada and have a strong showing on Super Tuesday, March 3.
Sanders faced some difficult subjects. He was met with familiar attacks on his health care plan and his self-proclaimed democratic socialism. And he was asked yet again to answer for angry online supporters.
“We have over 10.6 million people on Twitter, and 99.9% of them are decent human beings, are working people, are people who believe in justice, compassion and love,” Sanders said. “And if there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people. They are not part of our movement.”
But Sanders was doing just as much of the attacking Wednesday. He came to the debate already a winner of a primary contest and with the momentum behind him.
Seeing how feisty the rest of the field was, it’s clear that some of the other candidates got that message, too: If things continue as they are, the race could consolidate around Sanders in a couple of weeks.
Or it could be completely up for grabs.
Most of the pundits judge that the debate was won both by Warren (for her brilliantly prosecutorial treatment of Bloomberg) and by Sanders (for his having parried all attacks against himself and benefited by Warren’s grilling of Bloomberg without Sanders’s having needed to turn some voters off as being ‘aggressive’ — she did that nasty job for the benefit of both of them). (Here’s a good summary of that viewpoint.)
There is nothing wrong with political articles that are obviously pro or anti (which HuffPo’s are), but if there is something misleading in them — which was the case with both of those prominently positioned HuffPo articles — then the article is propaganda and not journalism, and to publish it is to publish and be a propagandist, and not a news-medium. And to give prominent position to any such ‘news’ report is to be even more of a propaganda-medium, and less credible and trustworthy by intelligent readers.
The next day, on February 21st, HuffPo led its Home Page with “Warren Goes After Bloomberg Again, Offers Contract To Release Women From NDAs”, and right below that lead story was “Elizabeth Warren Keeps Punching, Seeking To Supercharge Campaign”; and both were puff-pieces for her — and not Sanders — to win the nomination. The top story on the Home Page bannered “Warren Fires Up: Aims For Nev. Supercharge”. Nothing puffed Sanders, who, even at that time, swamped each one of his Democratic primary competitors in the Nevada primary polling. And this wasn’t paid advertising for her campaign, even though it might have been coming from (actually funded by, in salaries to these ‘journalists’ and their editors) some of the same billionaires who had donated money directly to her campaign.
So, it’s not only the New York Times and Washington Post and The Atlantic and The Progressive and The Nation and Harper’s and The New republic and NBC and ABC and CBS and Fox and CNN and MSNBC, etc., that are propaganda-operations for the billionaires, but even most of the ‘progressive’ ‘alternative news’ online sites are.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.