Jampaign 2016 VI: How Rolling Stone Let Me Down

Image via rollingstone.com

By Mandy Freebairn, Highlighter staff columnist

I was in class when it happened. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed during a particularly dull lecture, my mouse settled on the latest post from my favorite magazine, Rolling Stone. The headline was only four words long: “Hillary Clinton for President.” In the article, Rolling Stone owner and co-founder Jann Wenner explains that there is too much at stake this year for a “protest vote:” ergo, we should not vote for Bernie Sanders in this election.  

I was shocked. I’m not exaggerating when I say I nearly let out an audible scream in the middle of a crowded lecture hall. If you know me in real life (or are friends with me on Facebook), you know that I’m an outspoken Bernie Sanders supporter. I have shared many a pro-Bernie Rolling Stone article, and I have long pointed to them as one of my favorite unconventional news sources. The endorsement, especially coming from the magazine that Hunter S. Thompson once called home, felt like a betrayal. After publishing so many articles in support of Bernie, the entire magazine goes pro-Hillary just because its 70-year old millionaire owner says so? I was outraged. I made a snarky Facebook status. I told all my friends about it. I seriously reconsidered my long-held dream of someday writing for the magazine.

In my search for answers, I read and reread the article. To his credit, Wenner makes some good points. It clearly wasn’t an easy choice for him; he even admits that his “heart is with” Bernie. He’s correct that Hillary is an extremely qualified candidate, and that this election has higher stakes than we’ve seen in decades. But Wenner also makes some unfounded statements in his attempts to explain his position. He claims that Sanders has a “narrow power base and limited political alliances” in Congress.

This is blatantly untrue. Bernie has been called the “amendment king” of the House of Representatives due to the massive amount of amendments he has passed during his time in office. One could hardly call that accomplishment one of “narrow power,” and it could not have been done if Sanders really did have “limited political alliances.” Wenner also claims that Hillary was “one of those college students in the Sixties who threw herself into the passionate causes of those times.” I’m not sure what he means by this, given that in the sixties, Hillary Clinton was a Young Republican supporting a senator who was endorsed by the KKK.  

These statements were questionable, but the line that really made my heart sink was this one: “I have been to the revolution before. It ain’t happening.” When Jan Wenner’s children lose their soccer games, does he tell them, too, to just give up? Past failure is not a justification for surrender. If it were, Hillary Clinton would’ve thrown in the towel back in 2008. Who is this man to tell me what is or isn’t possible for my generation? Though he veils it well, Wenner is doing what every other centrist Democrat has been doing this election: talking down to Millennial voters who dare to use their brains. We may be cloaked in idealism, but it is not an empty vision. It comes from a foundation of moral and political theory that is all too often ignored by critics.

To be fair, I’m not blaming Rolling Stone as an entity. They have a right to endorse whomever they see fit, and I admire them for publishing a counterargument by contributing writer Matt Taibbi two days later. There should always be room for debate not just among news sources, but within them as well. It is disappointing, though, to see a magazine that has been a cornerstone of youth culture for so long blatantly take a stand against the candidate that has captured the youth vote.


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