Bernie Bits: Media Declares Open Season on Sanders' Love Life | Off Message
Pin It
Favorite

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bernie Bits: Media Declares Open Season on Sanders' Love Life

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 9:02 AM

bernie-bits-header.png
At a town hall meeting last Thursday in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) complained that the media "regards politics as either a baseball game or a soap opera."

The baseball game, he said, "is who's winning, what are the polls today and how much did somebody raise?" The soap opera, he continued, "is what happened in your life 87 years ago, this, that and the other thing."

What happened in Sanders' life 46 years ago became a hot topic Thursday when three news organizations published accounts of the candidate's lost years in the 1960s and 1970s — a period during which he moved to Vermont, worked odd jobs and dabbled in politics. The grand revelation in each story: that Sanders' son, Levi, was born out of wedlock, years after the senator's first marriage dissolved and years before he remarried. 

Though rumors of Sanders' love life have long circulated in Vermont — including during his 1996 reelection campaign — all three news outlets noted that its details had not previously been reported.

VTDigger's Jess Wisloski, whose story was published first Thursday morning, wrote that neither the senator's first wife nor Levi Sanders' mother "has been previously identified in news reports." Hours later, the Daily Mail's Martin Gould breathlessly exclaimed that he'd gotten the "EXCLUSIVE."

Gould's headline: "Bernie Sanders' very 1960s love life revealed - his first wife, the woman who had his son, and the sugar shack home where he lived as a 'revolutionary.'" 

Thursday evening, Politico Magazine published the most detailed piece on the subject, which made clear that reporter Michael Kruse had been researching the topic for weeks. The details of Sanders' early life, he wrote, came as "a surprise to some who have known him for decades."

Kruse continued: "It’s also very much a product of an unwritten compact between Sanders, his supporters and local reporters who have steered clear rather than risk lectures about the twisted priorities of the press."

"Compact" may be too strong a word, but it's certainly true that Vermont reporters generally avoid writing about politicians' personal lives, unless the details relate to public business. Indeed, it took years for the press to even mention Gov. Peter Shumlin's longtime girlfriend, Katie Hunt. VTDigger's Anne Galloway finally did in a profile published shortly before Shumlin's reelection last fall.

Many Vermonters will surely roll their eyes at Thursday's news. After all, Sanders was hardly alone in living an unconventional life in the Green Mountains during the '60s and '70s. Whether voters in more conservative parts of the country will react similarly is hard to say — as is what will next emerge from the Sanders archives.


Tags: , , , ,

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

About The Author

Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz

Bio:
Paul Heintz is a staff writer and political editor for Seven Days. He wrote the "Fair Game" political column from May 2012 through December 2016.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

On Topic...

Latest in Off Message

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation