WATCH: Sanders Hammers Media For Ignoring America’s Collapsing Middle Class|
Criticism of media met with cheers and applause
After a Sunday night rally in Dubuque, Iowa that attracted 2,000 supporters, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders had some choice words for the press gaggle waiting outside.
“Corporate media talks about all kinds of issues except the most important issues,” Sanders said. “The issue that I want to be talking about is the collapse of the American middle class. You guys going to write about that?”
Sanders is right — the American middle class is rapidly disintegrating. According to the 2014 Credit Suisse global wealth report, the median wealth of the American middle class is only $31,688. That’s less than even Greece’s middle class, and amounts to just a fourth of the median wealth of Australia’s middle class.
To say the middle class is “shrinking” is not an exaggeration. Princeton economist Alan Krueger defines who makes up the middle class by grouping those who make 50 percent less than U.S. median income up to households making 50 percent of U.S. median income — between $25,970 to $77,909 in 2013 figures. Assuming that makes up the American middle class, the number of people in that income bracket dropped from 56.5 percent of Americans in 1979 to 45.1 percent in 2012.
Fewer people identified as middle class in 2014 than in 2008. While 53 percent of Americans called themselves middle class in 2008, only 44 percent identified as such six years later. Simultaneously, the number of Americans identifying as lower-middle class increased from 25 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2014, while the number of Americans identifying as upper-middle class dropped from 21 percent to 15 percent during the same time period. At the other end of the income spectrum, the richest 1 percent saw their incomes increase by 181 percent between 1979 and 2012. To contrast, the average income increase for the bottom 99 percent over the same 33-year period was just 2.6 percent.
Near the end of the Q&A session, Sen. Sanders blasted the media for covering horse-race style politics rather than devoting coverage to substantive issues like money in politics, and the widening wealth gap between the richest Americans and the poor and middle class.
“People are sick and tired of establishment politics,” Sanders said. “They’re sick and tired of a politics in which people continue, candidates continue to represent the rich and the powerful, and go out begging money from the wealthy. They’re tired of an economics in which almost all of the income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. And they’re tired of a media which continues to want, to have ‘gotcha’ questions and make conflict between the candidates rather than talking about the real issues impacting the American people.”
(Video shot by Scott Galindez, edited by Arthur Kohl-Riggs)