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August 10, 2009

Bernie Sanders: Unfiltered?

Sen. Bernie Sanders and filmmaker Robert Greenwald have teamed up to create "Senator Sanders Unfiltered" — a roughly two-minute online "TV show" in which Sanders offers an unscripted take on major issues facing the country.

The inaugural episode of "Senator Sanders Unfiltered" was launched this afternoon. In the future, each new episode will air on Thursday.

While viewers in other parts of the country may be hearing and seeing Sanders for the first time, we in Vermont have to ask: When is Bernie ever truly "filtered"?

Each episode begins with a TwitVid question from a viewer. This week's question asked how Sanders felt about Wall Street bankers seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses from taxpayer bailout money.

Guess how he answered?

"I think the greed on Wall Street is absolutely out of control," said Sanders. "These people have no shame. Remember, this handful of Wall Street speculators are precisely the people who caused the greatest economic downturn and recession since the 1930s."

After they destroyed the economy, were bailed out by taxpayers and then asked for hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, Sanders noted, "This is basically insane. Enough is enough."

Sanders is urging regulators to fire some of Wall Street's top CEOs, not reward them with more taxpayer money. (Click here for a PDF of Sanders' letter.)

We need a Wall Street looking to put more people back to work on Main Street, argued Sanders, not just stuff taxpayer dollars into the pockets of tailored suits. One such Wall Street speculator wants a $100 million bonus.

The show came about because Greenwald said Sanders "gets it" in terms of new media and what ails the country.

"The country is in a pretty deep crisis and Sen. Sanders is one of the few voices speaking truthfully, not pulling his punches, and identifying the reasons that we're in the situation today economically, in terms of social inequities, and in terms of the wars," Greenwald told Seven Days via phone. "Everyone at Brave New Films felt strongly that we wanted to increase his megaphone and his platform. While Vermont is lucky to have him as a senator, we want the rest of the country to have him, too."

Greenwald said he and Sanders have been in contact for years.

"He, like I, probably struggles with his Blackberry, but he got it immediately when we started releasing our films," said Greenwald. "He called me up and said, 'These films are great, but the real thing is that you're breaking the gatekeepers' hold on distribution."

Greenwald said he and Sanders understand that you sometimes have to remove the filters of the mainstream media in order to get out a message. Greenwald is perhaps best known for his documentary Outfoxed, which posits that the popular cable news station Fox is a conduit for right-wing propaganda.

In total, Brave New Films has generated more than 45 million viewers to its various online TV segments taking on FOXNews, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, and other conservative factions.

“There is a strong need for progressive voices in this country. For too long, this country has been under attack by right-wing voices and ideologies," said Sanders in a statement. "This show will provide alternative, progressive perspectives that are not being covered by the mainstream media."

This isn't the only program in which Sanders reaches millions of Americans.

He is also the featured guest on the weekly "Brunch with Bernie" segment on the nationally syndicated radio talk show, "The Thom Hartmann Program." Sanders' segment airs from noon to 1 p.m. on Fridays, and can be heard in Vermont on WDEV-FM (96.1 FM / 550 AM).

So Greenwald and Sanders "get it"? And the clear implication is that most everybody else doesn't. The rest of us poor slobs don't have the vision to see through the mainstream media and discern the truth like Greenwald and Sanders do. Oh thank goodness we have Mr. Greenwald to teach the rest of us just how foolish and gullible we all are and to lead us unenlightened humans out of our ignorance into the light of understanding and truth that he and Sanders already enjoy by virtue of their superior intellect! If we, the pathetic, blind masses who inhabit the Matrix, don't see things as Greenwald and Sanders do, it's not because our alternative viewpoint is legitimate (that can't possibly be!), but rather because we, unlike they, are as yet too dim to see the truth.

Gimme a break.

And great, yet another show with Bernie screaming his jealous rage at the "rich people." That's new.

Hey Elitist,

You're quite defensive. Did your bonus get cut or something. At least Sanders is honest and is out to try and benefit the masses and not just himself. I'm a free market capitalist but I'm honest, play by the rules (both the law and my own code of ethics), and generous, so although I may not totally agree with Sanders, I respect him and would try to work with him any chance I could get.

"At least Sanders is honest and is out to try and benefit the masses and not just himself."

You're entitled to your opinion. If you follow his career, including the slimy way he eked past Pete Smith in the 1990 congressional election (at the last minute, getting NRA endorsement by accusing Smith of being "anti-gun"), it shows that he's just like any other politician: it's all about his ambition to power and doing anything it takes to win, and not about "the masses." Sure, he uses "little guy" rhetoric, but it's sloganeering that he knows will appeal to people in Vermont. No different than using God, Guts, and Guns rhetoric if you're running in the Bible Belt.

He loves the masses but his Congressional salary of $150,000 is 5 times the Vermont average? Has he taken a pay cut in these terrible economic times? Has he donated any of his salary?

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