DC Press Corps Spins Itself Silly Over Sanders’ Specifics
By Dean Baker
The Washington press corps has gone into one of its great feeding frenzies over Bernie Sanders’ interview with New York Daily News. Sanders avoided specific answers to many of the questions posed, which the DC gang are convinced shows a lack of the knowledge necessary to be president.
Among the frenzied were theWashington Post‘s Chris Cillizza, The Atlantic‘sDavid Graham and Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen, with CNN‘s Dylan Byers telling about it all. Having read the transcript of the interview, I would say that I certainly would have liked to see more specificity in Sanders’ answers, but I’m an economist. And some of the complaints are just silly.
When asked how he would break up the big banks, Sanders said he would leave that up to the banks. That’s exactly the right answer. The government doesn’t know the most efficient way to break up JP Morgan; JP Morgan does. If the point is to downsize the banks, the way to do it is to give them a size cap and let them figure out the best way to reconfigure themselves to get under it.
The same applies to Sanders not knowing the specific statute for prosecuting banks for their actions in the housing bubble. Knowingly passing off fraudulent mortgages in a mortgage-backed security is fraud. Could the Justice Department prove this case against high-level bank executives? Who knows, but they obviously didn’t try.
And the fact that Sanders didn’t know the specific statute—who cares? How many people know the specific statute for someone who puts a bullet in someone’s head? That’s murder, and if a candidate for office doesn’t know the exact title and specifics of her state murder statute, it hardly seems like a big issue.
There is a very interesting contrast in media coverage of House Speaker Paul Ryan. In Washington policy circles, Ryan is treated as a serious budget wonk. How many reporters have written about the fact this serious budget wonk has repeatedly proposed eliminating most of the federal government? This was not an offhand gaffe that Ryan made when caught in a bad moment; this was in his budgets that he pushed through as chair of the House Budget Committee.
Juan González Was at Bernie Sanders’ NY Daily News Editorial Board Meeting. What Really Happened?
By Democracy Now
Much of the corporate media has been openly criticizing Bernie Sanders’ performance during an interview with the New York Daily News editorial board. The Washington Post ran an article titled “9 Things Bernie Sanders Should’ve Known About But Didn’t in That Daily News Interview.” Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “The Transcript of Sanders’ meeting with the Daily News Ed Board is almost as damning as Trump’s with the WaPo.” We get a different perspective from someone who was actually there: Daily News columnist Juan González.
AMY GOODMAN: So, right now the race comes to New York.
VAN JONES: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: April 19th. And immediately, there was this New York Daily News meeting. Juan, you were at it. It’s being—the transcript has been released. Hillary Clinton has sent it to her supporters. What did Ryan Grim write in The Huffington Post? “A notion is rapidly crystallizing among the national media that Bernie Sanders majorly bungled an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News.” CNN just said, “Several times during the interview, Sanders expressed uncertainty over facts, said he couldn’t give a proper answer to a question because he didn’t have all the relevant information, or simply stated, ‘I don’t know.’” CNN said, “In one exchange, Sanders acknowledged that he wasn’t sure exactly how he intended to break up the big banks, a proposal that has been a centerpiece of his Wall Street reform agenda.” A Washington Post says, “This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders.”
But not everyone agrees. Juan, you raced out of here on Friday, because you were racing back to the New York Daily News to attend and question Bernie Sanders at this New York Daily News editorial board meeting.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, well, I certainly didn’t get that impression, tell you the truth. The editorial board is notorious, especially our editorial page editor, Arthur Browne, for his laser-like one question after another, and he bombarded, as several others of us also asked questions. I, overall, thought that Bernie Sanders handled the exchange very well. And I think that there were a few places where he stumbled, and—but I was amazed at his ability to parry the questions that were thrown at him and to, basically, for instance, bluntly say, when he was asked about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, that Israel needed to withdraw from the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory, which I was astounded that he was quite frank and clear on his position, while at the same time saying he would do everything possible as president to negotiate peace and security for Israel in an overall settlement. And I think there—he did stumble a little bit when he was pressed on how he would break up some of the too-big-to-fail banks. He clearly did not have that down pat.