CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, argued Thursday about media responsibility in the wake of a gunman's horrifying attack on congressional Republicans at a suburban Washington baseball field.
The gunman – mortally wounded by police during the siege – wrote on social media he was a supporter of the Independent Vermont senator, and Blitzer asked Sanders if her husband went too far in once describing President Donald Trump as the "worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country."
The exchange was posted on YouTube.
"I don't think so," she responded, adding: "We have to be able to discuss the issues without demonizing the opponent and honestly, Wolf, I think the media needs to look at itself as well."
"The media characterizes every conversation as an adversarial one," she scolded. "Your job, the media's job, I think, is to illuminate the facts, not fan the flames. And the media continues to cover the latest scandal, the latest back and forth, but not the issues so much."
Blitzer interrupted, saying, "With all due respect, if a president or a senator or someone of authority is making very, very strong statements, you want us to simply ignore those statements, if there's a social media post, a tweet and the president says something really, really strong . . . do you want us to censor those words as part of the news media?
"What are you suggesting?" he prodded.
Sanders replied the media ought to engage in "self-reflection," but Blitzer countered that was already being done, saying the media is "always looking back and learning," and asserted a robust democracy needs a robust media.
"This is not a perfect science by any means," he said, adding: "We certainly aren't going to try to censor very strong statements from people of responsibility."
But Sanders countered "what we need to do is to focus more on the issues."
"Let's focus on the matter at hand rather than who said what," she said. "My hope is that, we believe at the Sanders Institute, that democracy, vital democracy, requires an informed electorate," she said.
"We're at a political crossroads," she later added. "A lot of people are concerned about [the country] becoming an oligarchy . . . there are concerns about democracy . . . if we can't call attention to undemocratic action, that's not good. . . ."
But she said, "We need not to make it personal and demonize . . ."
Sanders also emphasized the violence by the partisan gunman "is not OK, and it's certainly not what Bernie preaches."
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