A Monday night PBS NewsHour segment on the state of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary highlighted Sen. Amy Klobuchar's new ad campaign in Iowa, the departure of marginal candidates Steve Bullock and Joe Sestak, a tender campaign moment with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden's "No Malarkey" bus tour—but did not once even mention Sen. Bernie Sanders despite recent key endorsements and a surge in the polls.
The PBS segment, led by NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, offered "a real taste of what Bernie is talking about," Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson wrote Tuesday.
"Remember that Sanders has been #1 in two out of three recent New Hampshire polls, and is currently second in Iowa, ahead of 'frontrunner' Joe Biden," Robinson noted. "Alcindor found time to talk about Joe Sestak and Steve Bullock, plus plenty of candidates struggling to get out of single-digit poll numbers. And yet: not even a photo of Bernie Sanders. Incredible. He's just... erased. He's gone. Bernie who?"
Robinson described the NewsHour segment as an example of "manufacturing consent in action":
Political commentator David Pakman recently asked, looking at Pete Buttigieg's rising poll numbers, 'What do you think is behind Pete's rise?' My own answer to that is simple: the manufacture of consent by a media apparatus invested in selling a candidate that will not disrupt the economic status quo.
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So much of our understanding of the world and what matters is filtered through the media, because that's how we get access to things that are not in our direct experience. If nobody talks about Bernie Sanders' campaign, how are you supposed to learn about it unless Bernie people come and knock on your door?
The NewsHour segment came just weeks after a detailed analysis of MSNBC's coverage of Sanders by In These Times found that the Vermont senator received both the least frequent and most negative coverage of the top 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.
"The corporate media's war against Bernie Sanders is very real," Jacobin's Luke Savage wrote last month.
"MSNBC, of course, is hardly the only culprit," Savage noted. "As Katie Halper documented a few months ago, the New York Times reporter assigned to cover his campaign 'consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders' temperament, history, policies, and political prospects.' The Washington Post once famously ran sixteen negative stories about Sanders in the same number of hours."
Sanders' lack of corporate media coverage compared to his 2020 rivals does not appear to have dampened his campaign's momentum. Last week, Sanders regained the number two spot behind Biden in RealClearPolitics' national polling average and came out on top in an Emerson New Hampshire poll.
As Common Dreams reported, Sanders on Monday netted the endorsement of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) Action Fund, the largest progressive organization in the key early voting state.
"Some 2020 presidential candidates have been embracing or acknowledging movement politics. But only one of them has been doing it for decades," the group said in a statement. "That's why Iowa CCI Action is endorsing Bernie Sanders. We're standing with Bernie because Bernie stands with us."