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PBS's Amanpour Defends Sanders Socialism, 'Mainstream' in Europe

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Monday's Amanpour & Co. show, the program demonstrated a double standard in challenging the Republican characterization of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders's socialist views when, by contrast, in the same show, former Barack Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer was not challenged on his assertion that Republicans have become "white nationalist authoritarian" with the election of President Donald Trump.

Toward the end of an interview with Marc Lotter of the Trump reelection campaign, after he described Sanders as a "self-proclaimed socialist" twice, and as a "communist sympathizer," CNN/PBS host Christiane Amanpour admonished her Republican guest with a lecture:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Um, look, I know you're going to use those words, but, as you know, he calls himself a "democrat[ic] socialist," he is not a communist, and, here, sitting in Europe, we would call it a "social democrat." They are mainstream, but I know what your side will do.

She then introduced the very next pre-recorded segment in which PBS's Michel Martin interviewed Pfeiffer about his book, Un-Trumping America. Amanpour intoned:

AMANPOUR: So, carrying on this theme, our next guest says the very idea of American democracy is under threat. Dan Pfeiffer was senior advisor to President Obama, and now co-host of the political podcast, Pod Save America. He discusses his new book, Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America a Democracy Again, with our Michel Martin.

Martin was then seen beginning the interview by noting that Pfeiffer is known for having a sense of humor, but then adding: "But actually what you're saying in this book is no joking matter. I mean, it's actually a dire message. You're saying that democracy is actually at stake. Why do you say that?"

As he gave his response, Pfeiffer gave his own description of extreme political views which he ascribed to Republicans:

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER BARACK OBAMA ADVISOR: But if you look at the history of the Republican party, right, racial grievance politics which is at the core of the Trump message, the core of what I call Trump-ism, has been there for a very long time, and it was accelerated with the election of our first African American President. And then that racial grievance was weaponized. And so I think Trump is definitely the most absurd, ridiculous version of what was going to happen, but the Republican party has been on an inexorable path towards an authoritarian, white nationalist leader. That is where we have been.

After Pfeiffer then worried that the next Republican President might be more competent at implementing such an agenda, Martin did not challenge his political characterization of the Republican party, but instead asked if Democrats were partially to blame for not having a better strategic plan for gaining power.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, February 24, Amanpour & Co. on PBS:

MARC LOTTER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Many traditional Democrats or more mainstream Democrats are very worried about having a self-proclaimed socialist -- and I would argue, communist sympathizer -- leading the Democrat party right now. And we've seen examples of this in that there is still very strong support for President Trump. This President is bringing out a lot of energy. He's bringing out a lot of new voters to his campaign, and, once they get a nominee, we'll be ready to take that person on. And if it's Bernie Sanders, then the Democrats are going to have to sit there and decide how they own having a self-proclaimed socialist as the leader of their party.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Um, look, I know you're going to use those words, but, as you know, he calls himself a "democrat[ic] socialist," he is not a communist, and, here, sitting in Europe, we would call it a "social democrat." They are mainstream, but I know what your side will do. All right, Marc Lotter, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MARC LOTTER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So, carrying on this theme, our next guest says the very idea of American democracy is under threat. Dan Pfeiffer was senior advisor to President Obama, and now co-host of the political podcast, Pod Save America. He discusses his new book, Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America a Democracy Again, with our Michel Martin.

MICHEL MARTIN: Anybody who knows your work knows that you have a great sense of humor, if people share your sense of humor, and that you love to laugh, but actually what you're saying in this book is no joking matter. I mean, it's actually a dire message. You're saying that democracy is actually at stake. Why do you say that?

(…)

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER BARACK OBAMA ADVISOR: But if you look at the history of the Republican party, right, racial grievance politics which is at the core of the Trump message, the core of what I call Trump-ism, has been there for a very long time, and it was accelerated with the election of our first African American President. And then that racial grievance was weaponized. And so I think Trump is definitely the most absurd, ridiculous version of what was going to happen, but the Republican party has been on an inexorable path towards an authoritarian, white nationalist leader. That is where we have been.

And sometimes I think we should almost be grateful that the one we ended up with is one who is easily distracted, is not interested in details, is incapable of pulling the levers of power or as strategically as he otherwise might because the one that really scares me if we don't take some of the steps that are in this book, is the Republican who comes next, who probably is not going to spend his entire morning in a Twitter fight with Deborah Messing, right? He would actually be doing things that would lock in Republican power even more so for decades to come.

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