Blow, Kristof, and Collins

In “A Bernie Blackout?” Mr. Blow says you could argue that Sanders has been starved of much of the positive coverage — or that he has been saved from much of the negative.  Mr. Kristof is in Unity State, South Sudan.  In “‘Big Government’ Looks Great When There Is None” he says what Republican candidates consider an American weakness seems like a strength when viewed from South Sudan.  Ms. Collins wants us to “Take the Trump Quiz.”  She says as Donald Trump is very likely going to be the Republican nominee for president, here’s a quiz to ease the transition.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

On Tuesday night, after Hillary Clinton trounced Bernie Sanders in state after state, Sanders took to a podium before throngs of thousands in Arizona and delivered a stirring speech for nearly an hour.

You didn’t see it? Understandable. It wasn’t covered live by any of the major cable news channels. At all. Not even a couple of minutes.

Why? As the Huffington Post reported:

“Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all declined to carry Sanders’ speech, instead offering punditry about the evening, with the chyrons promising, ‘AWAITING TRUMP’ and ‘STANDING BY FOR TRUMP.’ ”

This episode again drew cries about what has become known as the “Bernie Blackout,” a failure of news organizations, particularly television networks, to seriously cover the Sanders candidacy.

I must say that the numbers back this up, but I want to put more of the focus here on the disparity between the Democratic candidates.

Clinton’s coverage on television has dwarfed Sanders’s. As a New York Times Upshot report this week pointed out, Clinton has received more than twice the “news and commentary” about her campaign “on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on social media” as Sanders has.

(The demagogic real estate developer who leads the Republican field has received more than twice that of Clinton, but Sanders has received more than any of the other Republican candidates.)

In December, the Sanders campaign complained in a news release titled “Why the Bernie Blackout on Corporate Network News?” As the news release put it:

“The insurgent campaign that has drawn the biggest crowds on the presidential campaign trail has been all but ignored on the flagship television network newscasts, according to Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news coverage by NBC, CBS and ABC.”

The Tyndall Report’s annual totals for 2015 found that Clinton received 121 minutes of campaign coverage on the networks while the “noticeably under-covered” Sanders received only 20 minutes.

The bulk of the Sanders campaign’s complaint seemed to be aimed at the coverage of the Republican front-runner, whom the campaign accused the networks of “wildly overplaying,” “while at the same time wildly underplaying Sanders.”

(It should be noted that liberal outlets/entities like AlterNet have alsoaccused this newspaper of being part of the Bernie Blackout. The Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, weighed in in September:

“The Times has not ignored Mr. Sanders’s campaign, but it hasn’t always taken it very seriously. The tone of some stories is regrettably dismissive, even mocking at times. Some of that is focused on the candidate’s age, appearance and style, rather than what he has to say.”)

A strong argument could be made by all candidates — Democrat and Republican — that there has been some level of media malpractice as it relates to the amount of coverage received by their campaigns and that of the Republican front-runner, and they would be right. If any candidate had received the huge media coverage of the current G.O.P. front-runner, they would likely be in a stronger position now.

But the more consequential distinction for Democrats at this point is coverage between Clinton and Sanders.

There appear to be two parallel universes of Democratic voters this season — one disproportionately older, the other disproportionately younger — whose habits make them almost invisible to each other.

Clinton’s voters may be less likely to show up to rallies, or post on social media or be serial commenters who commandeer comments sections, but they do show up to vote. But these are the same voters who are less likely to hear much news about Sanders.

In a February Pew Research Center survey, a plurality of people 18 to 29 years old said that the social media was their most helpful source for learning about the 2016 presidential election. A plurality of those 30 and over cited cable news as the primary source. Network news was the second most popular source for those 65 and older.

The Sanders campaign and its supporters have a right to be unhappy about the disparity. But the Clinton campaign has its own view of Sanders’s supporters media grousing, and, as to be expected, it isn’t kind. As The Times reported last month:

“The Clinton campaign, however, argues that Mr. Sanders has benefited from the superficial horse-race journalism he scorns, and that coverage has largely focused on his avuncular style and cross-generational appeal rather than thorough inspections of his proposals or record. In the Vermont senator’s continual discrediting of the news media, the Clinton campaign sees an effort to inoculate himself from critical coverage.”

There is probably a kernel of truth to those suspicions — people forget that Sanders is a shrewd politician, and not just a curmudgeonly crusader — although I believe the Sanders campaign is legitimately flummoxed by the lack of coverage.

Indeed, the Tyndall Report pointed out that nearly as much coverage of Clinton was about controversies as about her candidacy. In addition to the 121 minutes of campaign coverage Clinton received on the nightly network newscasts in 2015, she also received “88 minutes devoted to the controversy over her emails as secretary of state and 29 minutes to the investigations into the Benghazi Consulate attack.”

Media coverage of Sanders has by no means been robust, but neither has it been withering. Coverage can be a double-edged sword, and it has most likely cut for and against Clinton. You could argue that Sanders has been starved of much of the positive or that he has been saved from much of the negative. But some of his supporters fear he has gotten the worst of both scenarios.

For what it’s worth the NYT’s public editor was raked over the coals in the comments to her piece on Sanders coverage, with comments citing chapter and verse of the NYT’s sins.  Now here’s Mr. Kristof:

After hearing Republican presidential candidates denounce big government and burdensome regulation, I’d like to invite them to spend the night here in the midst of the civil war in South Sudan.

You hear gunfire, competing with yowls of hyenas, and you don’t curse taxes. Rather, you yearn for a government that might install telephones, hire a 911 operator and dispatch the police.

From afar, one sees the United States differently. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz seem to think that America’s Achilles heels are immigration and an activist government. But from the perspective of a war zone, these look more like national strengths.

Indeed, take what Trump is clamoring for: weaker government, less regulation, a more homogeneous society. In some sense, you find the ultimate extension of all that right here.

No regulation! No long lines at the D.M.V., because there is no D.M.V. in the conflict areas. In practice, no taxes or gun restrictions. No Obamacare. No minimum wage. No welfare state to breed dependency. No sticky rules about eminent domain. And certainly no immigration problem.

Yet it’s a funny thing. In a place that might seem an anti-government fantasy taken to an extreme, people desperately yearn for all the burdens of government and tolerance of social diversity that Americans gripe about.

In a country where to belong to the wrong tribe can be lethal, South Sudanese watch American aid workers arrive — a mixed salad of blacks and whites, Asian-Americans and Latinos, men and women — with some astonishment. These Americans come in all flavors of faith: Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists and more. And while they may snap at one another, they don’t behead one another.

One lesson of South Sudan is that government and regulations are like oxygen: You don’t appreciate them until they’re not there.

Two political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, argue that America’s achievements rest on a foundation of government services but that we Americans suffer from “American Amnesia” (that’s also the title of their book coming out this month) and don’t appreciate this.

“We are told that the United States got rich in spite of government, when the truth is closer to the opposite,” they write. Every country that journeyed from mass illiteracy and poverty to modernity and wealth did so, they note, because of government instruments that are now often scorned.

These instruments also create a sense of national identity that eclipses tribal identities, even if this process is still incomplete in America.

I came across a group of homeless women and girls in the South Sudan swamps, hiding from soldiers who would have killed or raped them. One teenager was wearing a castoff T-shirt that read “Obama Girl,” so I asked her if she knew who Barack Obama was.

She was confused; there are no functioning schools in the area, so she can’t read and didn’t know what her shirt said. But I explained. That didn’t help, for she had never heard of Obama. I asked her friends if they knew, and finally I found one woman who did. She said shyly that Obama is president of the United States.

These women and girls are all members of the Nuer tribe, which the army of South Sudan has often targeted and which remains to some degree marginalized in the central government. And the Nuer are related to the Luo tribe, which is the tribe of President Obama’s father. So a Nuer now cannot in practice become president of South Sudan, but someone of similar ancestry can be president of the United States.

That’s an inclusiveness that enriches America and that should be a source of pride. Yet Trump sunders that unity and divides us by heritage: He turns us from Americans into people of many tribes.

What we Americans excel at are our institutions. We have schools, laws, courts, police, regulators, bureaucracies, safety nets — arms of a government that is often frustrating but always indispensable. These institutions are the pillars of our standard of living.

From the perspective of a South Sudanese war zone, our greatest challenge isn’t big government or immigration, but the threat to those pillars from those who miscalculate our national strengths and weaknesses.

It’s odd that some conservative candidates should be so anti-government when an intellectual forerunner was Thomas Hobbes, the 17th-century philosopher who rightly warned that life in the natural state is “nasty, brutish and short.” Trump and Cruz would do well to remember his point:

Government, laws and taxes are a burden, indeed, but they are also the basis for civilization.

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

Donald Trump is very likely going to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States. Take three deep breaths. I know we’ve been on this path for a long time, but it’s still hard getting your head around the idea, isn’t it? Just to ease the transition, our first-ever exclusively Donald Trump quiz:

1   After his big string of victories this week, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he was asked who his foreign policy advisers were. He said:

  • “I’m speaking with a lot of generals. Very impressive people. All winners.”

  • “I’m speaking with myself.”

  • “I have a long list. It’s a good list. Vladimir Putin said it was the best list he’d ever seen.”

2   After making his surprise endorsement, Ben Carson said that there were “two different Donald Trumps” and that the private one was “very cerebral.” Asked about that comment, Trump replied:

  • “I think there are two Donald Trumps.”

  • “I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps.”

  • “I think there are two Donald Trumps … I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps.”

3   Trump claimed on “Good Morning America” that there was “nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have.” As an example he pointed to:

  • His endorsements by Mike Tyson and Dennis Rodman.

  • The black guy who won “The Apprentice” in 2005.

  • His $100,000-membership club, Mar-a-Lago — “totally open to everybody.”

4   After a protester rushed the stage at one of his rallies, Trump claimed the man was associated with ISIS, and retweeted a video of him holding a gun in front of the ISIS flag. When NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out that it was a hoax, Trump said:

  • “Whoops.”

  • “All I know is what’s on the Internet.”

  • “As Kierkegaard said, ‘The truth is a trap.’”

5   One of the groups that’s been opening Trump rallies is USA Freedom Kids, little girls who sang about “President Trump” who “knows how to make America great …

  • “… And give us schools that really rate.”

  • “… Teach us to love and not to hate.”

  • “… Deal from strength or get crushed every time.”

6   Trump defended the supporter who sucker-punched a protester being led away by security forces. He said the attack was justified because the protester:

  • Had violently attacked an elderly woman.

  • Had tried to grab one of the officer’s guns.

  • Was “sticking a certain finger up in the air.”

7    House Speaker Paul Ryan scored a great triumph at the end of 2015 when the House passed a compromise spending bill that keeps the government running through the fall. Trump has been loudly critical, and at a recent rally in North Carolina, he said the bill was bad because:

  • “The appropriation for infrastructure repair is inadequate.”

  • “It fails to address the really critical Puerto Rican oil export issue.”

  • “It funds ISIS.”

8   Sarah Palin had to leave the Trump campaign to be with her husband, who had a serious snowmobile accident. Before her departure she said Todd’s multiple injuries made her appreciate:

  • “The skill of Alaskan emergency treatment centers.”

  • “The time that we have to spend in doing something so worthy, and that’s to get Donald J. Trump elected president.”

  • “The stress my family has undergone due to my unflagging pursuit of celebrity.”

9   After Trump defended the use of torture against suspected terrorists, his son Eric, who was campaigning for him, pointed out that waterboarding:

  • “Is no different than what happens on college campuses in frat houses every day.”

  • “Has real efficacy when employed as a last resort in isolated incidences.”

  • “Is no worse than what China’s doing to our manufacturing base.”

10   Since he threw his support behind Trump, Gov. Chris Christie has been humiliated on a daily basis for everything — from his slavish stare at the candidate’s press conferences to widespread criticism of his absence from New Jersey while he toils on the campaign trail. To pay him back, at a pre-primary event this week, Trump:

  • Made fun of Christie for the absentee thing.

  • Announced he was indeed planning to make Christie secretary of transportation.

  • Invited Christie to tell the audience about all the things he went through on 9/11.

11   Trump has endlessly complained about the way immigrants steal jobs from American workers, but he’s used loopholes in federal law to hire foreign workers himself. At a recent debate he argued that voters wouldn’t care about that seeming contradiction because:

  • “Everybody would like a Romanian helper.”

  • “Nobody knows the system better than me.”

  • “What happens in Mar-a-Lago stays in Mar-a-Lago.”

And here’s the answer key:

1B, 2C, 3C, 4B, 5C, 6C, 7C, 8B, 9A, 10A, 11B

I got 10/11.  I missed the one about the little girls.



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