“BERNIE SANDERS SAYS HE WILL VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON” blares NBC News.
And Politico. And Fox News. And CNN. And everywhere else you want to look in a major media landscape that is seemingly so bereft of new content that its denizens need to re-package passé information into “breaking news.”
Why is this being reported as some significant new twist? It stems from a Friday appearance on Morning Joe (and a later, less decisive one on CNN), where Sanders was asked whether he would vote for Clinton in November. Watch the clip here.
“Yes. Yes, I think the issue right here is I am going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump. I think Trump in so many ways will be a disaster for this country if he were to be elected president.”
Okay, so…who cares? We already knew that Sanders vowed not to run third party, and we already knew that he was adamantly opposed to Donald Trump. We could easily infer from those facts that he wouldn’t be endorsing someone like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, since that would also support a third-party movement and give strength to Trump. Who does that leave? The only person who can beat Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton.
Then how can we explain why this is headline news across the mainstream media, second only to last night’s Brexit results? Supposedly, this is critical stuff because it’s some kind of tacit acknowledgment from Sanders that he lost the primary. But again, we already knew that—months ago. In the meantime, he’s been fighting to influence the party platform and to try to make a potential Clinton presidency as progressive as possible.
When Sanders officially drops out of the race, that will be news. When he officially endorses Clinton, that will be news. But the fact that he’ll vote for her, over Trump or third party candidates that would help Trump? That’s old, and inevitable, and reporting on it now is another way to succumb to horse race politics—dressing up something totally ordinary as a major shift, and ignoring, as always, the real reasons why Sanders remains in the race; and why he had so much success in the first place.