Citizen Action Monitor

CBC correspondent’s report on Biden’s win in Michigan creates misleading impression of US electoral politics

Paul Hunter’s fleeting 2:45-minute video narrative from Michigan suffers in comparison with detailed informative accounts by other commentators.

No 2601 Posted by fw, March 14, 2020

Paul Hunter’s Opening Observation – “Yeah, well Joe Biden seems to be doing it. Who would have thought that, just a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, here in Michigan, he’s won. It’s a state rich in delegates and in symbolism. Could it be, in the Democrats seemingly never-ending battle to find a challenger for Donald Trump, that tonight they’re finally honing in on it. In Monroe City Michigan, those [five] we met were clear.”

Hunter’s Closing Observation“…that’s underlying how Democrats see this election. This isn’t like other elections. This is about one thing and one thing only, the way they see it, and it’s getting Donald Trump out of office. Tonight, in Michigan, the key state of Michigan, Democrats have sent their guy to do that, and it’s Joe Biden.”

Paul Hunter “is a foreign correspondent for CBC News based in Washington, D.C.”

During his 2:45-minute narrative from Monroe, Michigan on Biden’s big win, Paul Hunter had fleeting exchanges with four male and one woman voter. The substance of the exchanges was — Who did you vote for? And why? In three instances the replies were clipped – “Joe Biden.” In answer to the “Why” question, one was to “beat Trump”, one “to return to normality” and from the woman, a humorous “I would vote for a celery stick if it could beat Donald Trump.”

From those five brief encounters, and presumably from whatever preconceptions he arrived with, Paul prepared his short video narractive, which was squeezed in to the second half of the CBC’s one-hour National News. (Possibly the CBC producer may have edited Paul’s account to fit an available time slot).

Regardless, the final report created a misleading impression of US electoral politics that paled in comparison with detailed informative accounts by other commentators.

My post, below, on Paul Hunter’s narrative is presented in three parts, excluding this introduction:

1) An embedded 2:45-minute CBC video of Paul’s report from Monroe Michigan; 2) My transcript of Paul’s video report; and 3) A comparison of Paul’s report with excerpts from detailed written accounts by other commentators. And Part 3 is in three segments: a) six short excerpts from Paul’s narrative selected from my transcript of his Monroe, Michigan story; b) my take on Paul’s narrative explains how his words can create a misleading impression of U.S. electoral politics; and c) excerpts from detailed accounts by other commentators offer, I suggest, a more informative point of view on the current U.S. political landscape.

Reposted below is the embedded CBC’s You Tube video of Paul Hunter’s narrative. Alternatively, to watch the video on You Tube, click on the following linked title.

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Michigan primary could solidify Democrats’ front-runner by CBC News: The National, On You Tube, March 10, 2020

 2/ My TRANSCRIPT OF PAUL’S VIDEO REPORT

CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault – Paul Hunter is in Monroe Michigan tonight, just south of Detroit. Paul —

Paul Hunter — Yeah, well Joe Biden seems to be doing it. Who would have thought that, just a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, here in Michigan, he’s won. It’s a state rich in delegates and in symbolism. Could it be, in the Democrats seemingly never-ending battle to find a challenger for Donald Trump, that tonight they’re finally honing in on it. In Monroe City Michigan, those [five] we met were clear.

Male Voter 1 – Yes, I voted for Joe Biden.

Male Voter 2 – I voted for Biden.

Male Voter 3 – Biden.

Paul Hunter – Why?

Male Voter 3 – I feel he has the best chance to beat trump.

Paul Hunter – For so many, it’s that simple.

Male Voter 4 – To get back to normality. It’s painful for me to see what’s going on in this country nowadays.

Paul Hunter – Monroe, a factory town southeast of Detroit is itself in the spotlight, not least for its symbolism. This county twice backed Barack Obama for the White House. In 2016 it flipped and voted Trump. Monroe also favoured Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, as did all of Michigan. But all of a sudden the landscape’s changed.

Male Voter 2 — I think we’ve got to get Trump out and get a Democrat in. And I think Biden has the best chance of doing it.

Paul Hunter – So all eyes are now on these voters. Biden’s been surging. It’s as if voters now know who it’s going to be – Joe-Mentum, they call it. Sanders, who needs Michigan to reignite his campaign this week, slammed Biden for being part of the so-called “establishment”.

Bernie Sanders (video clip) – Does anybody really think that that will be the campaign of excitement and energy that’s going to grow the base that we need to defeat Trump? I don’t think so. I say that honestly as a friend of Joe’s.

Paul Hunter – As for Biden, he got cornered today when a factory worker accused him of plans to get too tough on hardening gun laws.

Joe Biden (video clip) – I did not say that. I did not say that.

Paul Hunter – Still, it’s not the kind of thing likely to put off voters dead set on getting rid of Trump. Even those who today voted Sanders, underlined they’ll back Biden if Biden takes on Trump.

Woman voter – I would vote for a celery stick if it could beat Donald Trump.

Paul Hunter – You know, she jokes, Adrienne, but that’s underlying how Democrats see this election. This isn’t like other elections. This is about one thing and one thing only, the way they see it, and it’s getting Donald Trump out of office. Tonight, in Michigan, the key state of Michigan, Democrats have sent their guy to do that, and it’s Joe Biden.

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3/ COMPARISON OF PAUL’S NARRATIVE WITH EXCERPTS FROM DETAILED WRITTEN ACCOUNTS BY OTHER COMMENTATORS

Paul’s Narrative — “…well Joe Biden seems to be doing it. Who would have thought that, just a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, here in Michigan, he’s won.

My Take: This passage “…Joe seems to be doing it…” leaves one with the impression that Biden is solely responsible for his sudden and unexpected “surge” to the front of the pack. Joe certainly seems to believe that. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Accounts by other commentators

Patrick Martin, reporting on March 4, in the World Socialist Web Site, writes:

Instead, the results demonstrate the opposite: the Democratic Party is a right-wing political formation, one of the twin parties of the American capitalist class, unbreakably tied to Wall Street and American imperialism. Rather than bow to Sanders’ apparent momentum after caucuses in Iowa and Nevada and the New Hampshire primary, the Democratic Party leadership intervened massively to bolster the faltering campaign of the most right-wing of the main contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. … It now appears that Biden will go into the next two weeks of primaries, in large states like Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Illinois, with a lead in delegates and the full support of the Democratic Party apparatus in those states, as well as a flood of campaign cash from big money Democratic donors who have been holding back, waiting for the emergence of a single right-wing candidate.”

*****

Paul’s Narrative — “…in the Democrats seemingly never-ending battle to find a challenger for Donald Trump, that tonight they’re finally honing in on it.” In the passage beginning”… in the Democrats…” the context suggests that Paul is talking about the Democratic leadership.

My Take — Paul emphasizes that, in Biden, the Democrats have found “…a challenger for Donald Trump”. Re Paul’s general use of the word “Democrats”, I presume he is speaking about the “Democratic Party leadership in Congress, although, used generally, it could also refer to voters. If the former, at this point in the campaign I believe the Party’s leadership is perhaps more interested in stopping socialist Bernie Sanders than in worrying about Trump.

Accounts by other commentators

Globalism sociologist William Robinson brings an interesting perspective to US 2020 electoral politics. In part 2 of 2 of a February 5 video interview on The Real News Network, he says —

“I want to conclude responding to this part of your interview by saying that the Democrats — meaning the mainstream elites — are more scared of the Sanders’ campaign, and of this insurgency of the left, and this rising popularity of socialism than they are of Trump. So, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have to oppose Trump. And there’s mass sentiment against Trump [from] their own social base. And they have to oppose the far left within the Democratic party, and outside of the Democratic party. So, they’re facing their own party crisis.”

U.S. historian Lawrence Davidson writes this in his March 8 analysis –

“… the Democratic Party establishment is ready to ‘risk intraparty damage to stop his [Bernie Sanders’] nomination.’ … Their hostility to the left wing of their own party may prove greater than their dedication to ultimate Democratic victory in November. That does not necessarily mean the Democratic ‘moderates,’ faced with a Sanders nomination, would actively support Trump. They could passively support him by just staying home during the campaign and November election. Yet, this would certainly be a disaster for the future of the Democratic Party, just as four more years of radical Republican rule would be a disaster for America and, arguably, the world as a whole.”

Patrick Martin, reporting on March 9, for the World Socialist Web Site, writes:

“Sanders is unacceptable to the party because it has no intention of raising any issue of significant social reform in the 2020 elections. It wants to run a right-wing campaign, largely based on attacking Trump as a Russian agent, a re-run of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, in which it seeks to gain the support of Wall Street and the CIA for the ouster of Trump.”

*****

Paul’s Narrative — “This [Monroe] county twice backed Barack Obama for the White House. In 2016 it flipped and voted Trump. Monroe also favoured Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, as did all of Michigan. But all of a sudden the landscape’s changed.”

My Take – Paul notes the flipflops and sudden “landscape” changes but doesn’t explain either. Moreover, re the term ‘landscape’, adding the adjective ‘political’ might have helped those few CBC viewers who likely have an understanding of America’s “political landscape,” which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “the distinctive features of a sphere of activity.” In this context, the “sphere of activity” likely refers to the 2020 election. But I suggest there are as many varying descriptions of the “distinctive features” of America’s 2020 electoral politics as there are commentators writing about the event. So take your pick.

Accounts by other commentators

Globalism sociologist William Robinson brings a studied perspective to 2020 electoral politics. In a February 5th video interview on The Real News Network (part 2 of 2), Robinson was asked why he sees so little difference between corporate Democrats and Trump’s Republicans in their response to the global capitalism crisis – And yes there is a crisis. Here is a passage from his reply –

“Let me remind the listeners, if you hadn’t heard the details of part one, that I had pointed out that the current moment, whether we’re talking about impeachment in the United States, whether we’re talking about headlines from anywhere around the world, the backdrop to that is the crisis of global capitalism. … Elites in the United States, both Democrats and Republicans — and again, this goes worldwide, but we’re talking about the United States — are deeply aware of this crisis of legitimacy and of capitalist hegemony. … And we are seeing a breakdown of the ruling order. And the ruling groups are asking, “How do we reconstitute hegemony? How do we stabilize this system? How do we sustain this system? How do we stave off revolution or this radical rebellion from below?” Then you have within the US elite — putting aside those reformers — you have the Democrats representing more of the same. You mentioned Biden, and Biden is the classical example, and now the former mayor of New York [Bloomberg] also, and Buttigieg. All of them are simply more of the same. Simply more of what we got with Obama and much of what we got with Trump. Which is — a continued war mobilization and massive financing for war in the military industrial complex, more neoliberal structural adjustments, a little more kinder, a little more friendlier than Trump’s neoliberal structural adjustment and austerity and so forth. … there is the far right response to the crisis as Robinson outlined in part one….Trump’s strategy involves fascist mobilization and intensifying the war against immigrants. Democrats’ key strategy is to redirect public attention to “the external enemy” – the Russians.”

*****

Paul’s Narrative — “Biden’s been surging. It’s as if voters now know who it’s going to be – Joe-Mentum, they call it.

My Take – Re “Biden’s surging,” Paul returns to a point he made in his opening remark – that Biden “Seems to be doing it.” By repeating the misleading impression that Biden is solely responsible for his sudden and unexpected “surge” to the front of the pack, Paul reinforces this misguided view. Turning to Paul’s “It’s as if voters now know” who is going to “get Trump out” as one voter put it. But, do voters really know what’s going on behind and beyond the fake politics?

Accounts by other commentators

Chris Floyd, a columnist for CounterPunch, wrote a dismaying piece about electoral politics, for the March 11 issue. Here’s an excerpt —

“So yes, I think it’s very possible for Biden to beat Trump. Because, for so many people, it doesn’t matter what Biden says or doesn’t say, how incoherent he is, how many outright lies he tells, how atrocious his record is or how diligently he is serving the domineering elites who have blighted our society to such a degree. It doesn’t matter that he has made it clear that he is not going to do anything about climate change, student debt, the healthcare crisis, rampant militarism, police brutality, economic injustice, low pay, ICE, and on and on. What matters [is] that he is a fresh screen where our most unworthy fears and unrealistic hopes can be projected, for a time; where we can forget, for a time, the massive disasters that are looming ahead and pretend that things can somehow go back to ‘normal.’ I think, perhaps, that we have come to such a crisis point on so many fronts that things are simply too overwhelming for most people to process, much less deal with, in any realistic way. Some strange combination of fatalism and magical thinking seems to have taken hold of large swathes of the electorate.”

*****

Paul’s Narrative — “As for Biden, he got cornered today when a factory worker accused him of plans to get too tough on hardening gun laws.” Joe Biden responds to worker – “I did not say that. I did not say that.”

My Take – It appeared not to have occurred to Paul, or the CBC, that viewers tuned in to the National News might want to know “Is Joe telling the truth?” A quick search and fact-check in the October 2, 2019 edition of the Washington Post reveals that Joe does have an 11-page gun law plan, which “includes support for universal background checks and reinstating the assault weapons ban.But even more worrisome than Joe’s apparent lie is the recent spike in reports that Biden is displaying symptoms of incipient dementia. Could it be that Joe’s denial of plans to get tough on gun laws were neurological signs of a memory lapse, and not a lie?

Accounts by other commentators

In a March 5 story by Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian writer, about US politics, she presents overwhelming video evidence – 38 video clips in all — of Joe Biden’s symptoms of “incipient dementia”. Biden’s defenders are aggressively attributing Joe’s speaking gaffs to a “speech impediment”. But, as Caitlin points out, it’s so much more than a mere “speech impediment”. Here, for example, is a Sept, 12, 2019, 0:35-second clip of Julián Castro calling out Biden for saying the exact opposite of what he had said just two minutes earlier.

Returning to Caitlin’s March 5 story, she writes:

“I hate doing this. I hate repeatedly writing about the obvious and undeniable fact that an old man is exhibiting obvious and undeniable symptoms of incipient dementia. It isn’t fun, and it doesn’t feel good. But the alternative is laying down and allowing the Democratic party and its allied media to gaslight people into believing it’s not a thing, as they are doing currently. … Anyone who wants Trump out of office should fiercely oppose Biden’s nomination.”

*****

Paul’s Narrative — “This isn’t like other elections. This is about one thing and one thing only, the way they see it, and it’s getting Donald Trump out of office. Tonight, in Michigan, the key state of Michigan, Democrats have sent their guy to do that, and it’s Joe Biden.”

My Take – Is this election really about “getting Donald Trump out of office?” And is Joe Biden really the guy the Democrats have “sent in to do that?” And precisely which “Democrats” have selected Biden to do this? — given that untutored voters have been propagandized into doing the bidding of the corporate elites.

Accounts by other commentators

In a March 11 article titled Keep Up The Fight: Electoral Politics Was Never Meant To Be The Solution, Caitlin Johnstone writes

“Bernie’s primary race [had] been very successful. The Democratic establishment was pressured so hard that it was forced to engage in a brazen coordination against the most popular candidate right before Super Tuesday, in order to install an actual, literal dementia patient whose neurological deterioration will be brought to mainstream attention in the coming months.

They’ve been forced to do this all out in the open, and it was necessary to make them do it. If there had been no anti-establishment candidate running and no forceful grassroots movement behind them, they could have slid in a nice fresh-faced empire loyalist like Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg with no difficulty instead of settling for the former veep who they themselves were all calling senile in 2019.

Now people can see them. Now #DemExit is a top trend on Twitter as progressives realize that they were sabotaged by the party’s leadership. This will only get more obvious as rank-and-file liberals realize that a clearly unqualified candidate was installed to thwart the candidate with a functioning brain, and that neither their party’s leadership nor the news media responsible for informing the populace ever told them that this was happening.

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