Well, perhaps not entirely without penalty, but the descriptions we’re seeing in response to Bernie Sanders’ recent accusations against the Washington Post certainly represent a change in tone from when the Bad Orange Man says mean things about the press. So where did this come from? It turns out that Sanders, along with other Democratic 2020 hopefuls are unhappy with some of the coverage they’ve been receiving and are, in some cases, blaming the press for their poor showing in the polls. But Sanders goes several steps further, building a conspiracy theory involving Jeff Bezos. (The Hill)
The Democratic presidential contenders are letting loose with a barrage of attacks against the news media, ripping national outlets for what they view as biased coverage of their campaigns or unfair double-standards in covering President Trump.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading the way, making his grievances with “corporate media” central to his anti-establishment campaign.
The Sanders campaign took it up a notch this week, calling out CNN and NBC by name, and making the case that The Washington Post is covering Sanders negatively because he’s been critical of the newspaper’s billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos.
As The Hill goes on to note, it’s not just Sanders. Biden’s spokesperson was lashing out at everyone in the press corps for “focusing too much attention” on his endless parade of verbal gaffes. (Sorry, Uncle Joe, but that’s actually news.) O’Rourke and Castro both accuse the press of not going after Donald Trump hard enough on charges of racism. (Seriously? Do you own a television?)
To be fair, CNN objected, if a bit more softly than they do when Trump lashes out at the press. (Free Beacon)
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow pronounced herself “surprised” at Sanders’s language, and likened it to President Richard Nixon saying on tape that he didn’t want Post reporters at the White House.
“This is a very serious claim against the Washington Post, with no evidence, and it is echoing what the president says,” Harlow said.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who formerly wrote for the Post, called it a “ridiculous claim.”
So there was that. But you can notice a pronounced difference in the tone, right? When the President talks about fake news, he’s accused of undermining the Constitution and threatening the future of the world. Sanders’ remarks are “surprising” and “ridiculous.” Trump gets compared to Hitler. Sanders draws a Nixon reference.
Of course, the complaints being raised are rather different as well. Some of the bottom-tier Democratic contenders are primarily angry that they don’t get as much attention as the frontrunners, blaming the press for their inability to break out. When Donald Trump complains, he’s usually talking about press outlets getting things wrong, focusing on unprovable topics like the endless Russia, Russia, Russia investigation and the endless negative spin applied to him.
Sanders, on the other hand, is quickly moving into tinfoil hat territory, accusing Jeff Bezos of making the WaPo attack him because of his criticism of Amazon. He also accused Jake Tapper of adopting “Republican talking points” for the crime of asking him how he planned to pay for his Medicare for All scheme. This sort of media attack strategy probably appeals to Bernie’s base, who see him as the outsider fighting “the establishment.” But he’s going to have to win over a lot more than that crowd if he wants to catch Joe Biden.