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Bernie Sanders: Unfiltered?

By Shay Totten at Seven Days

Sen. Bernie Sanders and filmmaker Robert Greenwald have teamed up to create “Senator Sanders Unfiltered” — a roughly two-minute online “TV show” in which Sanders offers an unscripted take on major issues facing the country.

The inaugural episode of “Senator Sanders Unfiltered” was launched this afternoon. In the future, each new episode will air on Thursday.

While viewers in other parts of the country may be hearing and seeing Sanders for the first time, we in Vermont have to ask: When is Bernie ever truly “filtered”?

Each episode begins with a TwitVid question from a viewer. This week’s question asked how Sanders felt about Wall Street bankers seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses from taxpayer bailout money.

Guess how he answered?

“I think the greed on Wall Street is absolutely out of control,” said Sanders. “These people have no shame. Remember, this handful of Wall Street speculators are precisely the people who caused the greatest economic downturn and recession since the 1930s.”

After they destroyed the economy, were bailed out by taxpayers and then asked for hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, Sanders noted, “This is basically insane. Enough is enough.”

Sanders is urging regulators to fire some of Wall Street’s top CEOs, not reward them with more taxpayer money. (Click here for a PDF of Sanders’ letter.)

We need a Wall Street looking to put more people back to work on Main Street, argued Sanders, not just stuff taxpayer dollars into the pockets of tailored suits. One such Wall Street speculator wants a $100 million bonus.

The show came about because Greenwald said Sanders “gets it” in terms of new media and what ails the country.

“The country is in a pretty deep crisis and Sen. Sanders is one of the few voices speaking truthfully, not pulling his punches, and identifying the reasons that we’re in the situation today economically, in terms of social inequities, and in terms of the wars,” Greenwald told Seven Days via phone. “Everyone at Brave New Films felt strongly that we wanted to increase his megaphone and his platform. While Vermont is lucky to have him as a senator, we want the rest of the country to have him, too.”

Greenwald said he and Sanders have been in contact for years.

“He, like I, probably struggles with his Blackberry, but he got it immediately when we started releasing our films,” said Greenwald. “He called me up and said, ‘These films are great, but the real thing is that you’re breaking the gatekeepers’ hold on distribution.”

Greenwald said he and Sanders understand that you sometimes have to remove the filters of the mainstream media in order to get out a message. Greenwald is perhaps best known for his documentary Outfoxed, which posits that the popular cable news station Fox is a conduit for right-wing propaganda.

In total, Brave New Films has generated more than 45 million viewers to its various online TV segments taking on FOXNews, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, and other conservative factions.

“There is a strong need for progressive voices in this country. For too long, this country has been under attack by right-wing voices and ideologies,” said Sanders in a statement. “This show will provide alternative, progressive perspectives that are not being covered by the mainstream media.”

This isn’t the only program in which Sanders reaches millions of Americans.

He is also the featured guest on the weekly “Brunch with Bernie” segment on the nationally syndicated radio talk show, “The Thom Hartmann Program.” Sanders’ segment airs from noon to 1 p.m. on Fridays, and can be heard in Vermont on WDEV-FM (96.1 FM / 550 AM).