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Mass media narrative managers have been throwing a fit ever since Senator Bernie Sanders criticized The Washington Post for providing unfair coverage of him at a New Hampshire town hall on Monday.
"Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?" Sanders asked the crowd.
"Nothing!" the crowd answered back.
"See, and I talk about that all of the time, and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why," Sanders said.
The reaction has been swift and furious. Outlets ranging from NPR to CNN to Fox News have claimed that Sanders' comments are "Trump-like" and "echoing Trump". CNN's segment on the story insinuated multiple times that there is no evidence for Sanders' claims of biased coverage by WaPo.
"Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians of every ideology who complain about their coverage," reads a statement by WaPo Executive Editor Marty Baron. "Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest."
All of these people are lying. During the hottest and most contentious point in the 2016 presidential primary, Fair.org documented the fact that The Washington Post published no fewer than 16 smear pieces about Sanders in the span of 16 hours. This sixteen-hour window included Sanders' debate with Hillary Clinton in the tightly contested state Michigan, where Sanders went on to score a narrow but hugely significant upset victory. To say that WaPo has a history of bias against Sanders is not conspiratorial, Trumpian or lacking in evidence, it's an intellectually honest acknowledgement of an undeniable and well-documented fact.
As of this writing I have not yet seen a single one of the outlets decrying Sanders' comments about The Washington Post make any reference at all to those 16 WaPo smear pieces in 16 hours. This is journalistic malpractice, as is the suggestion that there is no evidence of bias in WaPo's reporting about Sanders. While huffily protesting the insinuation that a plutocrat-owned media outlet might not give honest coverage to a politician campaigning on the taxation of plutocrats, these media industrial complex narrative managers are themselves churning out dishonest coverage. They're doing the thing that they insist they don't do.
Some have gone so far as to call Sanders' self-evident and completely undeniable accusation of bias "dangerous."
"This seems like a really dangerous line, continued accusations against the media with no basis in fact or evidence provided," said CNN anchor Poppy Harlow after running a clip of Sanders' campaign manager criticizing corporate influence in the media.
CNN anchor says Bernie and his campaign manager @fshakir calling out the media's pro-corporate bias is a "really dangerous line."pic.twitter.com/1Edq8CDXcu
Ib (@IbrahimAS97) August 13, 2019
Of course, what is actually dangerous is placing blind faith in a mass media institution for no reason other than to prevent that institution's representatives from getting outraged and indignant when you don't.
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