Is the Free Press Conspiring Against Senator Bernie Sanders?

It’s ironically antithetical that Senator Bernie Sanders’ prestige as a pure, transcendentally clean politician is now being marred by his supporters’ viral and largely digital reputation as aggressive, quick-tempered, ride-or-die fanatics. Recent controversy over sexist allegations against the progressive icon further highlight this contrast; much of Sanders’ base viciously refuses to even entertain the possibility that their champion once incorrectly analyzed gendered presidential campaign strategy, instead choosing to declare those levying the charge (primarily CNN and Senator Elizabeth Warren) liars and elite political puppets. Sanders and Warren mutually fluffed execution of the standard debate-end handshake last night, as well, further fueling sharp intra-party conflict online.

He said, she said

In anticipation of larger arguments about primary media coverage, let’s first break down this most recent Bernie campaign tension. Earlier this week, CNN’s MJ Lee exposed dialogue from a 2018 campaign strategy meeting between Sanders and Warren. Though the conversation was largely familial and civil, Lee tells us, Sanders at one point directly told Warren that he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidential election. She disagreed. The conversation moved on.

Does the media hate Bernie Sanders?

To say that MJ Lee’s allegations of Sanders’ misconduct may hold water is not to say that the extended media always covers the radical progressive fairly, of course. So here’s the real question: is the free press conspiring against Senator Bernie Sanders?

Sanders isn’t special

Moreover, I’m not convinced that the press is any more biased towards Sanders than any other candidate. Members of the press succeed by creating models of celebrities and public figures to absorb new information into, especially concerning those who’ve long been in the public eye. Clinton has a famously awful relationship with the press; consequently, nobody doubts her technical policy expertise or knowledge of the bureaucratic system, but many view her as a secretive political opportunist with questionable ethics. Rick Perry’s ‘oops’ moment devastated his campaign because it played into an already-developing mental model of him as a dullard, not because it was itself a momentous mistake.

Is negative media coverage a bad thing?

Finally, and this is a biggie, I’m not entirely sure that negative media coverage really hurts candidates. The contemporary candidate aided most by media coverage-President Donald Trump himself-is also the one the press is most biased against. Trump is potentially living proof of that age-old adage ‘any press is good press,’ theoretically suggesting that it matters less how you’re covered than that you are covered.

Hi! I’m Nick. I‘m interested in political rhetoric, mental health, and Manchester United — and I write sometimes. Learn more at