Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lying Eyes 5: Bernie Sanders on Rape An Akin?!

MRC Watch Dept. - The MRC gang wants its readers to think it has a real scoop on its hands today. Well, sort of a second-hand scoop. On Tuesday, Mother Jones ran a biographical sketch of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders which included, among other things, a reproduction of a brief piece Sanders had written in 1972 for the Vermont Freeman. This morning at MRCTV, Dan Joseph jumped on that reproduction and tried to turn it into a major scandal; Tim Graham then pimped Joseph's article on Newsbusters. What's all the fuss about? In Joseph's telling:
"In a 1972 essay, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opined that men fantasized about women being abused.  He also claimed that women fantasized about being gang raped."
That sounds like a scandal all right!

The problem: It isn't true.

Joseph and, later, Graham are offering up a laughably false characterization of the article, even as, in Joseph's case, he reproduces it, thus debunking himself. Yes, folks, it's yet another case of Don't Believe Your Lying Eyes, a favorite pasttime at the MRC, wherein the org's writers regularly tell their readers to ignore plain words in plain English in favor of their own politically motivated falsifications of same.

The Sanders piece at the center of this faux-controversy is a bit of social commentary about various toxic elements in gender relations, issues that, in 1972, were being brought to the fore by the feminist movement (to which the piece alludes). It's offered, stream of consciousness-style, through a tale of an unnamed man and woman, including dialogue between the characters and a tragic ending.

Joseph focuses only on Sanders' opening lines:
"A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.
"A woman enjoys intercourse with her man -- as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously."
This theoretical man and woman are what the MRC writers attempt to convert to all men and women, asserting, as Joseph puts it, that Sanders "opined that men fantasized about women being abused" and "claimed that women fantasized about being gang raped." To bolster this misrepresentation, Joseph goes a step further, saying the article is entitled "Men-And-Women." Its actual title, visible in Joseph's own reproduction of it, is "Man - and Woman." Graham gets the title right but keeps the misrepresentation and adds some of his own,[1] referring to the article as "an essay that Sanders wrote in February 1972 about the 'typical' rape fantasies of men and women." In reality, the word "typical" is only used in connection to the specific fantasy of that particular theoretical man (just as quoted above) and the article isn't "about" this at all -- the article briefly questions from whence such urges may have arisen then moves on. Joseph says his misrepresentation of those opening lines represent "[Sanders'] thoughts on male and female sexuality" and "[Sanders] early views on sexuality," while Graham calls them "Bernie's unique sexual theories."

Joseph's article is particularly slimy. He writes, "Sanders didn't specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche," adding that "in terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight... It is unclear where Sanders acquired his early expertise on male and female sexual desires." And:
"Perhaps Sanders gets a pass due to his early work at a psychiatric hospital (No, he wasn't a patient.)..."
And so on.

In standard Conservative Persecution Mode, Joseph asserts that "what is clear is that had Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum wrote something along these lines--even 40 years ago--the media wouldn't stop talking about it for weeks." Graham approvingly quotes this, then writes, "The proof of that assumption is the Todd Akin hullaballoo of 2012" (Joseph alludes to Akin as well). Back then, Missouri GOP Senate candidate Akin, when asked if abortions should be denied to even rape victims, stated that, in cases of "legitimate rape," the female body has ways of preventing impregnation. As could be expected, a firestorm of coverage and condemnation ensued. And, contrary to Graham's assertion, if Sanders ever says anything that moronic and outrageous, the same will happen to him. That hasn't happened here and, unfortunately for Joseph and Graham, most people who have no reason to suspect their own eyes do believe what they see, which means this non-story is probably going nowhere.



[1] Graham also asserts that "Mother Jones dropped a little bomb on the Bernie Sanders campaign," as if MoJo had offered up some bombshell report. In reality, the MoJo piece draws no special attention to the Sanders article; it's merely reproduced as an example of something Sanders had written when, at that point in his life, he was doing some freelance journalism. Notably, Graham doesn't link to the MoJo article.

The Sanders article:

Previous entries in this series:

Tim Graham: Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes on Steve Schmidt

Jeffrey Meyer: Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes Redux

Lying Eyes 3: Shepherd Tries To Mislead the Sheep

Lying Eyes 4: Whitlock Says Don’t Trust ‘Em On Obama Remarks

[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that is rather skeptical whenever the Media Research Center suggests its eyes are lying.]

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