There are precious few American institutions that Bernie Sanders has not called for to be unnecessarily regulated, subsidized or just completely taken over by the federal government.
You can now take the free press off that list.
He has called for what amounts to be one-sixth of the American economy to be nationalized (through Medicare-for-All), called for a similar federal takeover of the higher education system, and called for politicians to dole out tax dollars to be used for their own election campaigns.
Over the last few weeks, he has made overtures toward regulating what is a free American press.
For example, on the Joe Rogan Experience, he called for the government to seize the means of media production in the time around elections, saying that different political parties should be given a set amount of time on networks, like they do in England.
This week, he went public with a plan to completely reshape the industry from the top down, with an Op-ed in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Aside from his typically comical conspiracy theories of the American elite plotting to pull one over on the American people through controlling key institutions, the editorial provided a serious look into how Bernie sees traditional institutions of American freedom.
Bernie wrote that “Trump’s authoritarian bullying of the media is totally unacceptable and it must be denounced and rejected.”
Yet, as he correctly denounces Trump’s constant “enemy of the people” refrain, he has his own plan for controlling the press using federal authority.
That thirst for media authority is hidden among innocent-sounding gripes against what stories the media chooses to cover. He gives away the game in the eighth paragraph stating that:
“At precisely the moment when we need more reporters covering the healthcare crisis, the climate emergency, and economic inequality, we have television pundits paid tens of millions of dollars to pontificate about frivolous political gossip, as local news outlets are eviscerated.”
In other words, the media should cover the stories that Bernie wants it to cover – or else.
And what exactly does the “what else” entail? With Bernie, as always, it entails federal control, primarily through subsidization of local media outlets.
The American press is, of course, not above scrutiny. Its bias as a whole certainly leans to the left, favoring methods of story selection that lionize Democrats and demonize Republicans and Libertarians.
But the American media should be completely above regulation and subsidy. Any American who has read the Constitution and understands basic First Amendment jurisprudence should understand that.
This plan fits in with the larger narrative that Bernie pushes. This narrative demonizes private control of industry, and frames the uniquely American tradition of free-market pluralism throughout all parts of life as somehow oppressive to those who currently have less power and money than others.