Bernie Sanders may have participated in the CNN-hosted debate this week but he wasn’t afraid to call out the network for choice of advertising during the debate’s commercial breaks.
During a discussion on Medicare-for-All, CNN host Jake Tapper asked several of the candidates whether or not they would raise taxes on Americans in order to pay for universal health care coverage.
“Jake, your question is a Republican talking point,” responded Bernie Sanders.
“By the way,” Sanders continued, “the healthcare industry will be advertising tonight on this program.” At this point Tapper tried to move on quickly, telling Sanders his time was up. “Can I complete that please?” Sanders broke in. “They will be advertising tonight with that talking point.”
And just as Bernie predicted, ads by Big Pharma appeared during the commercial breaks:
Elizabeth Warren, a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the Senate, backed up Sanders in his accusal of CNN using Republican talking points during the debate. “We are not about trying to take away healthcare from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do,” said Warren “And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that healthcare.”
As one Twitter user pointed out, one of the commercials that aired was for a pill named “otezla” that has a listed price of $3,400 for a 30 days supply.
Another ad that aired was from the anti-single payer group Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF). The ad is part of a six-figure ad campaign against Medicare for All and is funded by hospitals and drug companies.
As Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, pointed out during the CNN show “Reliable Sources” over the weekend, “This isn’t a personal commentary on you or any other journalist but in about a minute or so, or two minutes or so, you’re going to cut to commercial breaks, and you’re going to see pharmaceutical ads.”
Since the ads are “basically paying your bills and the bills of all of this,” Shakir continued, “what that ends up doing is incentivizing you and others to make sure you’re asking the questions and driving the conversations in certain areas and not in certain areas.”