“They’re cowering for no reason.”
That was how Jacobin magazinepublisher and editor Bhaskar Sunkara responded Tuesday night to The Baffler magazine’s decision to fully retract and remove from its website an op-ed by Brooklyn-based writer Amber A’Lee Frost, who argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the best possible candidate to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020 and advance a truly progressive agenda.
“Not only is he the best candidate politically (as in, the only social democrat), he has the best chance of giving the ‘pragmatists’ what say they want: a presidential win.”
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Because The Baffler, which focuses on left-wing politics and culture, is owned by The Baffler Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, it is legally prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office. But Sunkara—whose magazine is also owned by a 501(c)3—argued that because the piece did not reflect the “views of an institute,” it was “clearly within bounds.”
So, late Tuesday, Jacobin decided to repost the article on its website (read Frost’s full piece below). Initially headlined “It’s Bernie, Bitch” by The Baffler—a spin on a phrase by American singer Britney Spears—Jacobin ran the op-ed with the title, “It’s Still Bernie.”
“A President Sanders isn’t some idealist fantasy, he is our best bet by a mile,” Frost argued in her piece. “Not only is he the best candidate politically (as in, the only social democrat), he has the best chance of giving the ‘pragmatists’ what say they want: a presidential win.”
The Baffler‘s decision to completely remove Frost’s piece from it’s website nearly two weeks after it was first published prompted some speculation that the magazine faced legal threats for purportedly violating the prohibition against endorsing a candidate for office—despite the fact that, as some pointed out, Sanders has not officially announced a presidential bid.
In a statement posted in the place of Frost’s removed piece, The Baffler explained its decision:
In a series of tweets late Tuesday, Peter Gowan—a policy associate at the Next System Project—called The Baffler‘s decision to remove Frost’s piece “extremely concerning.”
“Of course as a c3 they cannot organizationally endorse, but Amber was a contributor, not their board,” Gowan noted. “We should be clear—legal threats or concerns have prevented political speech by supporters of a socialist presidential candidate in a significant left publication. It’s very worrying and could have chilling effects across the sector if not opposed and resisted.”
Below is the full text of Frost’s op-ed as posted on Jacobin: