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Politics & Government

What Sanders Lacks In Media Coverage He Makes Up For In Crowd Size

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Donald Trump gets a lot of attention. But the picture on the Democratic side grows interesting, too. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is now ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire by seven points, according to the new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. Hillary Clinton continues to lead the polls nationally and in Iowa - the site of the first caucus. But Senator Sanders is a strong second - hovering above 20 percent. And Vice President Joe Biden - who hasn't said if he'll run - is close behind.

Amy Goodman joins us now. She's host and executive producer of "Democracy Now!" which airs on more than a thousand public radio and television stations and on the web. Last year, she received the I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nieman Foundation, and she joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

AMY GOODMAN: It's great to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: What do you make of the political landscape so far and, for example, Bernie Sanders' success, at least in the polls?

GOODMAN: Well, I mean, I think it's very important, and it also calls for a critique of the mainstream media because you have this candidate, Bernie Sanders, who gets - what? - a half, a third, sometimes a sixth of the coverage of Donald Trump, and, yet, he - Bernie Sanders is drawing crowds that are unprecedented for the Republican or Democratic Parties.

I think this goes to the media's coverage overall - the lack of coverage, I should say - of actual issues because that's what's drawing these crowds, even if they don't hear about him in the mainstream media.

SIMON: What issues do you think he's emphasizing that have helped?

GOODMAN: Well, there's no question that I think the number-one issue is economic inequality, the growing gap between rich - and I'm not going to say poor - but the rich and everyone else. It is not a progressive agenda or a conservative agenda to say, we are dealing in this country now with a kind of inequality that threatens the foundations of our society, and that resonates across the political spectrum.

SIMON: You know, you can't get through a political conversation these days without mentioning Mr. Trump. And I bring his name up to you because, on Friday, he took out after hedge funds. He's actually been doing that recently. I have a quote. "The hedge fund guys - they make a fortune; they pay no tax. The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder." He sounds a lot more like Bernie Sanders than he does the other Republicans.

GOODMAN: Well, you know, Scott, I think that Bernie Sanders is having an effect also on the Republican Party. It's not lost on any of these candidates, you know, not Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump.

SIMON: Speaking as a citizen and from your experience and base of influence, do you think Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state - now under inquiry by the Justice Department and the FBI - is a legitimate campaign issue?

GOODMAN: You know, I don't know what has happened, as most Americans at this point don't really understand what has taken place - what were the rules and laws the time she was secretary of state and what they are now. It is being investigated. It's not a criminal investigation, but I think we have to wait and see. She understands she has to explain herself. It's not just about an oppositional press - that the American people are being polled and saying they don't believe what she's saying around the issue of email. But, you know, I think an investigation has to be done to really understand exactly what happened.

SIMON: While we have you with us, Amy Goodman, is there an issue that a lot of candidates have ignored, relatively speaking, you'd like to draw our attention to?

GOODMAN: The issue of war, the issue of the so-called free trade agreements, the issue of equality and racial justice - I mean, overall, I would say issues are not really being dealt with in the mainstream media. They are focused on polls. What we have to focus on are issues, because that's what's going to determine the direction of this country.

SIMON: Amy Goodman, of "Democracy Now!" Thanks so much for being with us.

GOODMAN: Thanks, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.