BRATTLEBORO -- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has partnered with media pioneer Brave New Films to produce a weekly online series.
The "Senator Sanders Unfiltered" program will air once a week in five-minute segments featuring the Vermont Independent answering questions submitted by viewers nationwide via Twitter and Twitvid. Producers hope the show will provide an unprecedented look at the political and policy-making process on Capitol Hill while hearing the concerns from regular citizens.
"It is important that we as Americans have direct access to voices that are truthful, dauntless and unapologetic like that of Sen. Bernie Sanders. [This series] is going to provide that access," said Robert Greenwald, producer and founder of Brave New Films. "Every week, he will talk about the issues that people are concerned about ... and really be able to reach a large audience without any reservations or anything standing in the way."
Sanders is the first senator in history to release a weekly online show addressing the concerns from everyday Americans. He said the move gives him another vehicle to publicize a more progressive perspective that is often overlooked in the national media.
"Frankly, I think that the media in general does not do a great job of keeping people informed about what’s going on in Washington (D.C.)," said Sanders. "I’m going to use this opportunity to provide a progressive analysis to the people of this country, and I feel good about it.
According to Sanders, there is a strong need for progressive voices in the mainstream to counter the right-wing voices and ideologies.
"Our nation is on the brink of tremendous change, with issues like health care reform, the environment and banking regulations. This series will provide alternative, progressive perspectives that are not being covered by the mainstream media, he said. "It just gives me, as a U.S. Senator, the opportunity to speak with people without a filter and respond to the questions they have."
Greenwald said the Vermont senator has stayed in touch with his constituents throughout his political career using the latest technological advances. Sanders was one of the first to recognize how important the Internet would become for alternative news outlets and reaching out directly to Americans, he said.
"One of my jobs as an elected official is to do my best to explain to people why things are the way they are and what we can do to improve it," said Sanders. "I think that’s part of what our job is about ... not sitting in an office away from people."
The first online episode (or Webisode) aired Monday, about a week after the site’s trailer appeared showing Sanders arguing against corporate greed and the high costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 41,000 viewers have checked out the initial episode.
"I think we’re off to a good start ... it’s kind of an interesting experiment and we’ll see how it works," said Sanders.
"The response to the first show was really overwhelming," said Greenwald. The success should come as no surprise to Greenwald -- Brave New Films’ online videos have reached more than 45 million viewers.
To watch the online series or to submit a question to the senator, interested residents can visit www.sandersunfiltered.com.
Chris Garofolo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.