CONWAY, N.H. — When addressing audiences, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) regularly includes the “corporate media” in a list of what’s ailing American politics these days, right alongside the outsize influence of the “billionaire class,” corporate greed and super PACs.
He did so again Monday, at a rally here attended by about 750 people, complaining that the media is too eager to turn presidential politics into a soap opera or a sporting event rather than cover “real issues,” such as job creation or guaranteed health care.
Asked by the media to elaborate after the event, the presidential hopeful said he doesn’t think he is being treated unfairly, telling a gaggle of reporters: “I don’t have a problem with the way I’m being covered.”
But Sanders stood his ground on his critique of the media’s priorities, responding with a little finger-wagging for the cameras.
“I want you to talk about and force discussion about climate change,” he said. “Do you think you do that enough? I would like you to force discussion of poverty in America. I have talked over and over and over again that 51 percent of African American kids are unemployed or underemployed. You think that’s an important issue? I do. Are you going to discuss it?”
He continued: "So what I am asking you is help me. … The American people want a discussion of the real issues. They don’t really care that Marco Rubio threw a football and hit some kid in the head. Not one of the great issues facing our society.”
In the same gaggle, Sanders fielded a few questions on what impact Vice President Joe Biden might have on the Democratic contest if he enters the race.
Sanders allowed that Biden would be “a formidable opponent” but said it’s unclear how exactly the dynamic would change.
“What impact he will have on the race? I honestly don’t know,” Sanders said. “I would like to tell you, but I don’t. Will it help or hurt me or help or hurt Hillary Clinton? I just don’t know.”
Sanders suggested he has one thing going for him that neither Biden nor anyone else does: momentum running as a non-establishment candidate.
“The bottom line is I think people understand there is something profoundly wrong with establishment politics, that we need some bold ideas to resurrect the middle class of this country, to address poverty, to address income and wealth inequality,” Sanders said, adding that there is “profound anger and disgust with the campaign finance system.”
He noted that the polls clearly indicate he is gaining and “that Hillary Clinton’s support seems to be receding. But we’ve got a long way to go.”
Sanders also sounded unimpressed with Biden’s meeting over the weekend with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a favorite of the Democratic left wing.
“Well, you know, I’ve had a lot of meetings with Elizabeth Warren,” Sanders said, adding that he considers Warren a good friend.