Why Does The Media Ignore Bernie Sanders?

There are many theories about why Bernie Sanders is ignored by the media. Sanders has a huge support base, full of passionate backers who believe in the positive message of the Vermont senator and would love nothing more than to see him in the White House.

And yet, the media has been reluctant to give Sanders and his campaign the coverage they deserve. Alternet reports that Bernie Sanders gets 20 seconds of media coverage for every 81 minutes enjoyed by headline-grabbing ex-reality star Donald Trump.

Many theories have sprung up over the last year suggesting reasons for the so-called “Bernie Blackout.” Some claim that well-connected Democrat Hillary Clinton, Sander’s competitor for the presidential nomination, has convinced the media and political establishment that she is “inevitable.” Reports claim that Clinton basically “controls” the PR arm of the Democratic Party, and that Hillary Clinton has used her clout to reach out to big-business backers and media influencers, convincing them that they may as well get a head start on publicizing her because she is definitely going to be the one running for the presidency later this year.

Another theory is that America’s culture of celebrity-obsession, which gave us both Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, has led to the inevitable sidelining of figures like Bernie Sanders, who represent depth over artifice and aim for transformation and structural change, not mere headlines and dollars.

Just today, Carly Fiorina made headlines when she called Donald Trump “the Kim Kardashian of politics,” as reported by the Daily Mail. Fiorina slammed the real estate mogul, saying he is like Kardashian because “they’re both famous for being famous and the media plays along.”

A report published in the Daily Dot blasted Trump along these lines, saying the reality star is exactly the sort of puffed-up and talentless establishment figure Sanders is fighting against.

“Why is Donald Trump, who just announced that he is running for president, taken somewhat seriously as a candidate on the Internet, despite being no different than other professional celebrities, like Hilton or Kim Kardashian?…Can you imagine if Paris Hilton ran? But make no mistake about it, Trump is just as much of a professional celebrity as any celebutante.

Born into a privileged family—his father, Frederick C. Trump, built the real estate empire that carries the family name—Donald Trump became a national figure during the 1980s, when his opulent lifestyle and flair for brazen self-promotion made him the perfect poster child for the zeitgeist of that era. He nicknamed himself ‘The Donald,’ married a supermodel (and then was mired in a high-profile divorce), and managed to keep himself in the public eye as a reality TV star long after other ’80s business icons had faded from our cultural consciousness.

The only meaningful difference between Trump and the likes of Hilton and Kardashian (besides their gender) is that Trump has been a miserable failure in his businesses.”

Another theory was suggested today in an editorial published by Newsday: Bernie Sanders may be ignored because he is “too consistent.” Perhaps the media have not maintained a focus on Sanders because his message, values, and beliefs have been so consistent for four decades. This consistency spilled over into Sanders’ political life and his appearances on the trail. And while this may be “presidential” and “commendable” behavior, it is not rewarded in a media environment that trades in cheap thrills and shocking headlines.

“[T]he sixth story or column about Sanders’ [policies] is going to read a lot like the first. Even yesterday’s announcement that he would break up Wall Street was right in line with past proclamations.

With Donald Trump, on the other hand, you get constant shifts in topics. You never really know which ethnic group he’s going to hammer, or what genital slang he’s going to invent…”

While Bernie Sanders continues to receive only a trickle of media attention, there are heartening signals that this may be set to change, and we may see more coverage of the popular Vermont senator on our pages and screens.

“When it comes to Sanders, lots of folks throw in small amounts of cash. So when he raises $33 million in three months, it means a lot of people care.”

An influential New York Times editorial in favor of expanded welfare payments has just been published, with a nod to Sanders as the only candidate in favor of such a move. The Huffington Post hailed the editorial, saying that “a progressive cause is going mainstream.”

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[Photo by Mary Schwalm/AP]