By Lukas Gordon
The Pigeon Press (Portland, Oregon)
When Bernie Sanders won the West Virginia caucus, beating Hillary Clinton with 51.4% of the vote to her 35.8%, it was a big deal for his campaign. The next day, the New York Times didn’t report on his victory, merely stating, “Mr. Sanders continues to tug Mrs. Clinton to the left…forcing Hillary Clinton to continue a costly and distracting two-front battle.” This blatant blackout of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is only the latest example of a mass-attempt by the media to erase him from the election.
Since Sanders announced his candidacy, he has gained considerable momentum, starting as a long shot, and quickly becoming a very-close contender. He started with 3% in the national polls, and according to USA Today, is now only six points behind Clinton, having amassed massive crowds at rallies around the country. Yet, since the beginning of his campaign, supposedly liberal news sources like the New York Times and CNN have consistently failed to report on him.
When Sanders entered the race, his announcement was stuck to the 20th page of the front section of the New York Times, far past where most casual readers would look. The newspaper has continued to ignore his numerous victories in caucuses, as well as his endorsements from several major unions. Consistent op-eds have been run in the paper, saying that Sanders’ candidacy has ruined his political legacy, and criticizing him for “distracting voters” from Clinton. When CNN ran a poll asking who had won a Democratic debate in October, 81% said Sanders had, yet the website ran an article the following day titled “Poised, Passionate and In Command – Clinton Triumphs in Democratic Debate as Rivals Compete to Lose.”
Not only is there a clear disconnect between the public’s perception of the Democratic debate, but also an inherent bias in the media that favors Clinton over Sanders. CNN is owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a subdivision of Time Warner, part of the massive Super-PAC backing Clinton. The New York Times has effectively acted as a mouthpiece for Clinton, and has faced wide criticism from Sanders supporters for their lack of coverage. However, the best they have done is to remove a description of Sanders as a “Grumpy Old Socialist” from a May 18th headline.
By attempting to blackout Sanders from the election, both CNN and the New York Times have made him much less accessible to voters that deserve to have a full picture of the candidates. It appears all too easy for them to denote his every victory as merely a sideline for Clinton. That is not journalism.
However, it is not just Clinton that is favored over Sanders by the media. On Super Tuesday, March 15th, Sanders gave a speech. CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News all declined to broadcast the event, instead airing live footage of an empty podium at a Donald Trump rally. According to U.S. Uncut, as of March 20th, Sanders had received 44 minutes of total cable coverage, compared to Trump’s whopping 175.
When I see the vast majority news media sinking to such lows as to effectively erase Sanders from existence, it strikes me not only as unfair, but it makes me question their journalistic integrity. The professional honesty of a news source is the principle factor that determines its credibility, and when it shows itself to be so inherently biased, it ceases to be a viable source of information.
But it gets even worse. Days before the Georgia primary, an editorial published on CNN.com by Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, praised Clinton while ripping Sanders. The editorial claimed that he was out of touch with the poor, as well as with gun laws, and condemned him for a “one-issue campaign.” However, it was revealed through emails from Reed’s office that the article had actually been written by a corporate lobbyist who backs the Clinton Super-PAC.
This isn’t just biased, it’s straight-up lying. The problem is not that there was an article criticizing Bernie Sanders, but that the media is so fundamentally skewed and biased that its articles are actually being written by corporate lobbyists who claim to be people they are not. The problem is, there is no way that this can be fixed. CNN’s backing of the Clinton Super-PAC makes them immediately biased, and therefore, they cannot be considered a trustworthy news source. Though I encourage people to write to the New York Times and CNN, confronting them on their lack of journalistic integrity, it is ultimately more important for people to stay aware. Instead of getting all your information from the corporate media, be actively engaged in the presidential race. Watch debates, go to rallies, be politically active. It seems that is the only way to truly get a real picture of the election. More reliable news sources include the Huffington Post and the Guardian, two sites that have given even-handed coverage throughout the election, both calling out the Times and the Clinton campaign for ignoring Sanders.
Most importantly, don’t listen to corporate media sources for all your information about the election, because they will always market the reality that gets the most views, not the one that actually exists. People should vote for the candidate they believe in, not the one that the media says they should…or shouldn’t.
Photo Credit: AFGE