In what has to be some kind of record, the Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours, between roughly 10:20 PM EST Sunday, March 6, to 3:54 PM EST Monday, March 7—a window that includes the crucial Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, and the next morning’s spin:
All of these posts paint his candidacy in a negative light, mainly by advancing the narrative that he’s a clueless white man incapable of winning over people of color or speaking to women. Even the one article about Sanders beating Trump implies this is somehow a surprise—despite the fact that Sanders consistently out-polls Hillary Clinton against the New York businessman.
There were two posts in this time frame that one could consider neutral: “These Academics Say Bernie Sanders’ College Plan Will Be a Boon for African-American Students, Will It?” and “Democratic Debate: Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Fracking, Gun Control, Trade and Jobs.” None could be read as positive.
While the headlines don’t necessarily reflect all the nuances of the text, as I’ve noted before, only 40 percent of the public reads past the headlines, so how a story is labeled is just as important, if not more so, than the substance of the story itself.
The Washington Post was sold in 2013 to libertarian Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is worth approximately $49.8 billion.
Despite being ideologically opposed to the Democratic Party (at least in principle), Bezos has enjoyed friendly ties with both the Obama administration and the CIA. As Michael Oman-Reagan notes, Amazon was awarded a $16.5 million contract with the State Department the last year Clinton ran it. Amazon also has over $600 million in contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization Sanders said he wanted to abolish in 1974, and still says he “had a lot of problems with.” FAIR has previously criticized the Washington Post for failing to disclose, when reporting on tech giant Uber, that Bezos also owns more than $1 billion in Uber stock.
The Washington Post’s editorial stance has been staunchly anti-Sanders, though the paper contends that its editorial board is entirely independent of both Bezos and the paper’s news reporting.
Adam Johnson is an associate editor at AlterNet and writes frequently for FAIR.org. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc.