Better late than never, I guess? The Washington Post’s video editor, JM Rieger, highlights Sanders’ claim in the debate Tuesday night that “I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world.”
Rieger spent a substantial amount of time going through old video clips featuring Bernie Sanders and found that, contrary to that claim, Sanders hasn’t always been a critic of authoritarianism. In fact, Rieger says it’s more accurate to say “Sanders has often been quick to downplay abuses of authoritarian regimes.” Well knock me over with a feather:
But a Fix review of more than 10 hours of Sanders appearances over the past three decades reveals how Sanders has often been quick to downplay abuses of authoritarian regimes, instead focusing on aspects and programs he admired. During his two presidential bids, Sanders has at times appeared to contradict or try to explain away his earlier views on authoritarian regimes, examples of which you can watch in the video above.
In 1985, Sanders praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro for his education and health-care programs. In 1986, he recalled being “very excited” by Castro’s revolution. And after he returned from a trip to Cuba in 1989, the Rutland Daily Herald paraphrased Sanders as calling Cuba a “model of what a society could be” for Latin America…
Returning from a trip to Nicaragua in 1985, Sanders downplayed reports of abuses by the Sandinista-led government, instead lauding the country’s democratic rights, civil liberties and food lines. In 1988, Sanders discussed the government’s media censorship by pointing to previous U.S. crackdowns on press freedoms during the Civil War and first and second world wars…
After dodging a question in 2016 about his past praise of the Sandinista party, Sanders on Friday called Nicaragua an authoritarian society where things are not well.
A few voices and outlets (mostly on the right) have been talking about this for nearly a year now. Over that time it has been clear to many of us that Sanders was at one time a full communist and from the early 1980s until very recently he seemed far more interested in defending socialist regimes than criticizing them. For most of his career the media has winked at this or politely ignored it. But it seems Sanders’ rise in the polls combined with his look on the bright side of Castro’s Cuba during a recent 60 Minutes has finally signaled to editors at major publications that this is fair game.
Rieger put together this video clip contrasting some of what Sanders said then with what he’s saying more recently. It’s pretty damning and he should be asked about it 100 more times if necessary until he finally explains to the American public why he now things 1980s Bernie Sanders was wrong.
Final note, I don’t know if JM Rieger spends much time on Twitter but for his sake I hope not. The Bernie Bros are not going to react kindly to this.