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Nate Jackson / March 10, 2020

Bernie ‘Versus’ the Media

Leftmedia pundits don’t disagree ideologically with Sanders. They just don’t like him.

There are six more primaries today, as the Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders tilt continues. Democrat voters in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will weigh in on just how far left they want their nominee to be. The big question is whether Biden will repeat his Super Tuesday performance.

But Berne vs. Joe isn’t the only cage match happening these days. Bernie vs. Leftmedia is another intriguing bout between ideological kindred spirits.

Sanders rightly complains that many in the mainstream media have not been kind to him, though that has more to do with his crankiness toward media pundits than actual policy disagreement. Bernie has spent his entire career attacking the “corporate media” and the “oligarchic business models in the media industry.”

Bernie does have a point, and we’ve made it repeatedly: The Leftmedia is driven not just by ideology but by advertising revenue. Wall-to-wall coverage of coronavirus, for example, is largely driven by a desire for eyeballs.

Yet the truth is that most journalists are arguably to the left of Sanders politically. It’s not that pundits don’t want Medicare for All or the Green New Deal; it’s that they don’t like being scapegoated by populist politicians. And many journalists fear that a communist-defending Sanders won’t accomplish their primary goal: defeating Donald Trump in November.

Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed co-founder who is now the media editor for The New York Times, writes, “Mr. Sanders has his own plan for the media revolution. He wants to break up big media and tech conglomerates, increase funding for public media and empower journalist unions.” Sanders insists that taxpayer-funded alternative media is preferable. He advocates an “effort to substantially increase funding for programs that support public media’s news-gathering operations at the local level — in much the same way many other countries already fund independent public media.” Spoken like a true socialist.

In any case, Sanders has discovered that his toughest opponents are the media activists who want his agenda … without him.

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