Anyone who's been paying attention should get the picture by now. Overall, in subtle and sledgehammer ways, the mass media of the United States -- owned and sponsored by corporate giants -- are in the midst of a siege against the two progressive Democratic candidates who have a real chance to be elected president in 2020.
Some of the prevalent media bias has taken the form of protracted swoons for numerous "center lane" opponents of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The recent entry of Michael Bloomberg has further jammed that lane, adding a plutocrat "worth" upwards of $50 billion to a bevy of corporate politicians.
The mainline media are generally quite warm toward so-called "moderates," without bothering to question what's so moderate about such positions as bowing to corporate plunder, backing rampant militarism and refusing to seriously confront the climate emergency.
Critical reporting on debate performances and campaign operations has certainly been common. But the core of the "moderate" agenda routinely gets affirmation from elite journalists who told us in no uncertain terms four years ago that Hillary Clinton was obviously the nominee who could defeat Donald Trump.
This year, Sanders has taken most of the flak from reporters and pundits (often virtually indistinguishable), serving as a kind of "heat shield" for Warren. But as Warren gained ground in polling this fall, the attacks on her escalated -- to the point that she now has a corporate media bulls-eye on her political back.
"What's at stake includes democracy -- the informed consent of the governed -- and so much more."
The disconnect between voters and corporate media is often huge. Meanwhile, with fly-on-the-wall pretenses, media outlets that have powerfully distorted proposals like Medicare for All are now reporting (with thinly veiled satisfaction) that voters are cool to those proposals.
The Washington Post, owned by one of the world's richest people Jeff Bezos, has routinely spun Medicare for All as some sort of government takeover. In a prominent Nov. 30 news story that largely attributed Warren's recent dip in polls to her positioning on healthcare, the Post matter-of-factly -- and falsely -- referred to Medicare for All as "government-run healthcare" and "a government-run health plan."
Such pervasive mass-media reporting smoothed the way for deceptions that have elevated Pete Buttigieg in polls during recent weeks with his deceptive "Medicare for All Who Want It" slogan. That rhetoric springboards from the false premises that Medicare for All would deprive people of meaningful choice and would somehow reduce coverage.
In late September, with scant media scrutiny, Buttigieg launched an ad campaign against Medicare for All that has continued. Using insurance-industry talking points, he is deliberately confusing the current "choice" of predatory for-profit insurance plans with the genuine full choice of healthcare providers that top-quality Medicare for everyone would offer.
Mainstream media outlets are ill-positioned to refute such distortions since they're routinely purveying such distortions themselves. Warren's backtracking step on Medicare for All in mid-November was a tribute to media pressure in tandem with attacks from centrist opponents.
The idea of implementing some form of a substantial "wealth tax" has also been denigrated by many corporate-employed journalists. Countless pundits and political beat reporters have warned that proposals like a wealth tax, from Warren and Sanders, risk dragging Democrats down with voters. The truth is that such proposals are unpopular with the punditocracy and the extremely wealthy -- while it's a very different matter for most voters, who strongly favor a wealth tax.
On the same day this fall, the New York Times and the Washington Post published stories on Democratic elites' "anxiety" about the presidential election. The Post wrote that Democrats "fret" Warren and Sanders "are too liberal to win a general election." (With disdain, the article made a matter-of-fact reference to "the push for liberal purity.") The Times similarly wrote of "persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren's viability in the general election." Contrary voices were absent in both news stories.
Assessing those articles, FAIR.org media analyst Julie Hollar pointed out: "The pieces interviewed a number of big donors and centrist party leaders, who fretted about their preferred candidate's struggles and expressed hope for someone more corporate-friendly than Warren to enter the race and challenge her rise."