Brow Beat

The Daily Show Went Through Tapes of Bernie Sanders’ Old Public Access Show and He Hasn’t Changed a Bit

A still from Bernie Sanders' public access show in which he is leaning way over to interview a very short little girl.
“Tell me your biggest concerns about the city’s impending purchase of unused lands belonging to the railroad, little girl, and don’t spare my feelings!”
Comedy Central

Love or hate Bernie Sanders, you have to give him one thing: he’s consistent. He’s consistent over time—he’s been making the same arguments about our broken economic system for decades now—and he’s consistent about treating people the same way, regardless of their age. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that his old public access TV show, Bernie Speaks With the Community, is full of footage of Sanders acting exactly the same way he does today, whether he’s railing about injustice on the Senate floor or asking a bunch of five-year-olds whether or not they use cocaine. A full archive of Sanders’ series, which he made while serving as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s, is now available online, so The Daily Show combed through it and assembled a few highlights. They are top notch public access television:

You don’t realize you’ve been waiting your entire life to watch Bernie Sanders tell a little kid, “I think you’re dumb,” until it finally happens. On the other hand, his vintage classroom lesson about stereotypes is pretty appalling. The idea was apparently to present students with examples of types of racial stereotypes—and it’s obvious from context that Sanders is not endorsing any of these ideas—but it seems like maybe this shouldn’t be a “Yes, and …” conversation:

Sanders: So what does everybody know about the Irish? They …

Kid: Get in fights.

Sanders: Get in fights because they’re drunk! All the Irish people do is drink. That’s the Irish.

But the real highlight has got to be the kid at the mall who suggests to Sanders that the city needs an amusement park—a classic grade-school kid suggestion—and ends up getting an explanation of imminent domain, until she is finally is bored enough to tell him, “Okay, well, I better get going.” It’s hard to tell if his unwillingness to address kids as anything other than little adults is a sign of respect or a blind spot, but either way, it’s completely hilarious. There are a lot of good reasons to support Bernie Sanders’ run for the presidency, but on the evidence of his public access show, the best reason is probably the chance to see him give an impromptu—but surprisingly long—lecture about the evils of payday loans to a bunch of baffled toddlers at the Easter Egg Roll.