Bummed about the ‘Bernie blackout’
In the last two presidential elections, The Washington Post officially endorsed Obama’s candidacy. They have yet to officially endorse Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, but in the interests of transparency they probably should; a report by FAIR published on March 8th found that The Washington Post published 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in as many hours on March 6 and 7. This was an extreme example, but The Washington Post hasn’t exactly been subtle about their contempt for the Vermont Senator.
Conversely, throughout this election cycle Sanders has been outspoken in his criticism of the media — both their lack of coverage of his campaign, and their tendency to ignore issues that he’s passionate about, such as income inequality. His complaints aren’t unjustified. A study by The Tyndall Report last year found that in 2015 Sanders had received just one-tenth as much news coverage as Hillary Clinton, and only one-twentieth of the coverage devoted to Donald Trump. This overt Trump bias is characteristic of broadcast journalism as well. On March 15, MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN all ignored Sander’s post-caucus address, instead giving coverage to their pundits and telling viewers that they would soon be cutting to Trump.
With major news channels and newspapers largely ignoring or deriding the candidate, it’s little surprise that millennials — who have so far overwhelmingly voted for Sanders over Clinton in the primaries — are getting their news coverage from social media rather than television or print sources. I’m of course not arguing that Sanders is responsible for this change; this has been a steady trend for many years. It seems, however, as if newspapers like The Washington Post are actively and willingly encouraging young, democratically-inclined people to go elsewhere for their information. For the small percentage of young Sanders supporters who may be subscribed to the publication, how many articles with condescending titles like: “Clinton is running for president. Sanders is running for something else,” and, “Sanders is still drawing ‘yuuuge’ crowds. But is the revolution unraveling?” can they read before they cancel their subscriptions?
So why the consistent bias? Why — other than his admittedly frustrating lack of quotable soundbites — can’t Sander’s get a fair shake? I don’t want to be the annoying a**hole who gets a hard-on from telling people that corporate media coverage might just maybe sometimes be slightly influenced by corporations, but I’m not peddling any unfounded conspiracy theories by simply stating that Time Warner, owner of CBS, is one of Clinton’s biggest campaign donors, or that The Washington Post is owned by libertarian (natural rival of socialism) and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.
Would I have been thinking about any of this if Sanders hadn’t so completely brainwashed me into loving him? Probably not. In 20 years, when all this is far behind us, will I still flip off copies of The Washington Post when I come across them? Well, hopefully I’ll be more mature by then, but the point is a large segment of young Americans are just now getting interested in politics through Sanders, and they’re coming to the bitter realization that fair coverage isn’t really a thing. This isn’t exactly a profound revelation, but, like me and my soon to come “Feel the Bern” facial tattoo, it’s getting harder for the media to hide its bias. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not this actually affects their relationship with millennials in the years to come.