U.S. ‘Progressive’ Magazines Deep-Sixed Senator Sanders’s Incipient Presidential Campaign

Eric Zuesse

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont might be the most progressive of all U.S. Senators — only two Senators are even contenders for that spot, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts, and neither of them has campaigned at all for the Presidency.

Only Sanders even tested the waters. On 17 September 2014, Paul Heintz of Vermont’s weekly newspaper Seven Days, headlined, “‘Run, Bernie, Run’: In Iowa, Sanders Tests the Presidential Waters,” and opened: “The crowd went wild Saturday afternoon [13 Sep.] as Bernie Sanders ascended a makeshift plywood stage at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wisconsin. … ‘Run, Bernie, run! Run, Bernie, run!’” Heintz noted that, later on the same day, in Iowa, Sanders addressed students at Dubuque’s Clarke University. Then, the next day, on Sunday morning, he was at Waterloo Iowa’s Center for the Arts. 

Already, he had tested the campaign waters in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and other states, and received enthusiastic receptions everywhere, even in the deep South where Democrats rarely win. Heintz spoke to David Yepsen, a veteran political reporter in Iowa, who said, “I think he’ll run.” That was as of 17 September 2014. 

Then, on 30 April 2015, in a terrific MSNBC interview with Ed Schultz, Sanders said that he would run, and he explained why; and on May 26th, he officially kicked off his campaign, with a wildly enthusiastic event in Burlington Vermont, where his political career had started in 1981 as Mayor. 

All this while, Sanders was one of the leaders in the Senate in opposing Obama’s ‘trade’ deals, and, earlier, pressing Obama to support more strongly a public option in the healthcare exchanges, and on many other matters. He has hardly been an inactive Senator, such as Hillary Clinton was. Instead, he was always one of the leaders of the Senate’s progressives.

How much coverage were America’s supposedly ‘progressive’ magazines providing of this? Nothing before he started making noises about a possible Presidential run, and little even after that.

Here are the “Sanders” search-results as of 11 May 2015, at the magazines that claim to be ‘progressive’ — and this is everything, going back not only before 2015, but before 2014: it’s everything at every period. They ignored him up through 2013, and covered him little during 2014 and 2015, while he has been campaigning nationally.


The Nation Deep-Sixes Sanders’s Campaign

30.Apr.2015       http://www.thenation.com/blog/205865/6-degrees-separation-between-bernie-sanders-and-hillary-clinton

5.May.2015        http://www.thenation.com/article/206521/bernies-race

13.May.2014      http://www.thenation.com/article/179837/bernie-sanders-could-be-2016-democratic-candidate-weve-all-been-waiting

6.Mar.2014        www.thenation.com/blog/178717/bernie-sanders-i-am-prepared-run-president-united-states


Mother Jones Deep-Sixes Sanders’s Campaign

30.Apr.2015       http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/sen-bernie-sanders-running-president-greatest-hits

30.Apr.2015       http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-democrat-2016-press-questions

2.Apr.2015         http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/bernie-sanders-inequality-president-interview

6.Nov.2014        http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/bernie-sanders-big-money-election-spending


The Progressive Deep-Sixes Sanders’s Campaign

8.Oct.2104        http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/10/187877/highlights-fighting-bob-fest-senator-bernie-sanders

                            (That’s a speech he gave in Wisconsin.)


American Prospect Deep-Sixes Sanders’s Campaign

nothing after 2011


But, there is one exception (although it was only very late and very sudden):

In These Times Endorses Sanders for President

30.Apr.2015       http://inthesetimes.com/article/17893/bernie-sanders-a-candidate-worth-voting-for

6.Apr.2015         http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17814/bernie_sanders_endorses_chuy_garcia_in_chicago_mayoral_election

26.Jan.2015       http://inthesetimes.com/article/17572/bernie_sanders_president


He was the only progressive who was even testing the waters for a possible 2016 Presidential bid, and these were the 5 ‘progressive’ national political magazines, and so no wonder, then, why it was that as of his official kick-off date of 26 May 2015, he was so little known to the American public that he didn’t even show up at all in the 2016 Presidential polls. 

He was an unknown even though he has more political experience than either of the other two Senate progressives, and even though he has been campaigning, already, for almost a year. 

These five magazines are the only five national progressive political magazines; and, so, they’re the ones that should have been devoting major attention to him, both in the Senate and on the prospective campaign trail, yet only one actually did, and even that one started on 26 Jan. 2015 2015, months after he had started “testing the waters.”

Here is NBC Nightly News on 12 April 2015, the day that Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy.

None of the network national news shows covered the Sanders 26 May 2015 kick-off event, even though NBC News did have a van there. Here is NBC News’s Politicall Director Chuck Todd, saying that Sanders is just an idealistic sideshow to the 2016 race. “He may not be able to win Iowa, or even get 15% in Iowa.”

The ‘progressive’ magazines were doing nothing to help ‘their’ person to overcome the contempt that dripped from the mainstream ‘news’ media against him.

So: on which side do the ‘progressive’ magazines actually weigh?


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, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

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  • ClubToTheHead

    These self described progressive magazines are just shills for the Democratic Party and would never take any position that would alienate them from the Democratic Party loyalists that comprise a significant part of their readership.

    The chief reason to not support Bernie Sanders is that he is
    unprincipled on the key issue of his Democratic Party campaign, that
    being his revolution against billionaires.

    He will try to run on this anti-billionaire platform in one of the two
    parties of the billionaires, and is certain to lose. And he assures his
    supporters that when he loses he will once again support the
    billionaires’ party. He will lead his revolutionary supporters into
    party compliance.

    So he is NOW committed to BOTH support and NOT support a revolution
    against billionaires.

    One both committed and uncommitted to one principle at the same time is
    by definition unprincipled.

    Bernie needs to run as an independent or be shouted down for his
    deceitful, unprincipled behavior.

    • steelhead23

      that is simply nuts. You are correct that the current two-party system is billionaire-dee and billionaire-dum, but there is no reason for such similarities to persist. I believe that Sanders’ ideals are the ideals of many if not most registered democrats. But running as an independent is to give up the fight to tear the democratic party away from the Rubin crowd. Are you really against that?

      • ClubToTheHead

        Big money will go to the big money’s candidate, and not to Bernie.

        Sanders has already planned for his own inevitable defeat by announcing his support for those who will never support him or his “revolution” after his failed run.

        The people may support Bernie’s ideals. I support the ideals he verbalizes. But anyone who thinks he”ll be on a November 2016 Democratic Party ballot is nuts or naive.

        You think the that in the choice between the Ruben crowd and Bernie, the Democrats will choose Bernie? Seriously?

        The Democratic Party loses nothing by Bernie’s defeat in the primary. The Democratic Party can have a Pyrrhic victory by beating Bernie in the general election.

        If the Democrats want to continue emulating the Republicans they deserve to lose.

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  • hidflect

    The media is going to play Bernie as the slightly-kooky-but well-intentioned-uncle-from-out-of-town and when they’ve finished patronizing him, furrow their eyebrows in seriousness and ponder Madame Clinton’s gravitas as she spouts corpo-speak on the topic of inner-urban blight.

  • wunsacon

    Eric or other readers,

    Some naive questions here…

    What is it about the first link (http://www.thenation.com/blog/205865/6-degrees-separation-between-bernie-sanders-and-hillary-clinton) and second link that leads you to believe the coverage is slanted against Bernie?

    To try to answer my own question: It seems to me the author unduly emphasizes Hillary’s greater campaign resources and thus makes it sound like Bernie’s an underdog. My guess is that you feel — and I guess I’ll agree with you — that the coverage at this early stage of the game should be about policy and platforms and not focus on money.

    Indeed, isn’t it ironic if these mags — which wring their hands over the influence of money in politics — succumb to and in fact propagate money’s influence by focusing on Hillary’s financial resources and (oligarch) political relationships?

    • steelhead23

      I cannot speak for Eric but his point is not that the progressive mags have not put out any pro-Sanders pieces, it is that by comparison to the coverage of Ms Clinton, those mags are not pumping hard enough.

  • jadan

    It’s early yet. Let’s see if Bernie can wake the populist beast. He doesn’t like billionaires. Hillary does. The right wing BS Reagan used has done nothing for the people. The right has lost credibility. Bernie’s anti-billionaire sentiment can catch fire like Reagan’s “revolution” because it correctly identifies the problem. He’s not a sleazy liar like Clinton. He names names. Give it time. Sanders is working against the Democratic Party regulars….

    • ClubToTheHead

      Sanders does not have the character to take a principled stand against big money.

      He promises to cave to the bringers of economic ruin.

      If he was serious he would run a campaign against the Democrats as an independent.

      Hope kills by forestalling necessary but risky action.

      • jadan

        Read this background on Sanders and his early years from Mother Jones…..http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/young-bernie-sanders-liberty-union-vermont….He is taking a principles stand against big money right now and he’s been consistent. Where does he promise to “cave to the bringers of economic ruin”? Back up what you say. Anybody can talk shit. Sanders is the only candidate who actually has character and principle. Who’s your candidate, or do you embrace the-don’t-vote-because-it-interferes-with-activism nonsense of David Swanson?

        • ClubToTheHead

          Bernie has promised to support the Democrats.

          Bernie will not be the party nominee.

          The party will not take any actions Bernie says he would take if he were elected.

          If you didn’t learn anything from the difference between the Obama campaign and his performance in office, you are an Obamabot, and any further attempts at discussion with you is not worth the effort.


          • LEGOates

            Yup, keep us engaged until the inevitable, then beat us over the head with their LOTE nonsense.

  • 5 dancing shlomos

    my name is bernie shlomo sanders.
    i support israel wrong or wronger or wrongest.
    you want to criticize my love state. i say “shut up”.
    my name is bernie shlomo sanders

  • Ok, so where is his push to nationalize the fed? Hello???

  • Gretchen Pemberton Brena

    Thank you for this article. I’ve noticed this and I’m actually surprised. If these magazines really were progressive, they’d be doing everything in their power to get Bernie elected. I think he can win and a lot of people agree with me. I’m donating money and I’m volunteering my time. This reminds me of Obama all over again, except this time we progressives have a true progressive champion. Join me and Bernie can win it all!!