Bernie Sanders Slams The Mainstream Media, Says Elites Are Disconnected From Reality

In his fiery critiques of the American political scene, Bernie Sanders often slams mainstream media outlets in particular, noting that their coverage of events and social movements is often strikingly disconnected, betraying a bias toward the sensational over the substantial.

Over the weekend, Sanders used Twitter as the vehicle to launch this criticism.

Sanders wrote, “What the mainstream media has got to understand, is that they are far removed from the reality of where many American people are.”

Throughout the primary process, Sanders and his supporters have forcefully chided the media for their complicity in the rise of Donald Trump, often noting that while Sanders struggled for coverage in the early stages of his campaign — even while pushing an inspiring message that appealed to millions — the media lavished Trump with endless attention, flocking with fascination and horror to his latest gaffe or bigoted remark.

As the New York Times reported in March, Trump trounced all other candidates in what is deemed “free media” — media not paid for by a political campaign.

The Times noted, “Over the course of the campaign, he has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, about twice the all-in price of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history.”

Bernie Sanders, while earning more coverage than the other Republican candidates, was granted little coverage relative to his growing success at the time. Sanders went on to win 22 states, making a competitive contest out of what many thought would be a non-competitive Democratic race.

Many Sanders supporters have alleged that the media has blacked out the Vermont senator, citing the fact that, for instance, ABC World News Tonightdevoted just 20 seconds to Sanders in 2015; by contrast, World News Tonight devoted 81 minutes to Donald Trump.

Such inequality in media coverage of candidates inextricably leads to inequality in the coverage of particular issues. For Sanders, those issues happen to be growing corporate control over the political process, money in politics, Wall Street criminality, and income inequality.

The problem, of course, is that it makes sense that major media outlets would devote little attention to these issues, given the fact that these same outlets are owned by the large corporations Sanders has so often railed against.

This elite capture of the national narrative, Sanders argues, has created a kind of echo chamber, in which elites insulate themselves from the problems facing ordinary Americans.

Sanders wrote, “Despite what the establishment thinks in talking to each other, it turns out that ordinary Americans want real change.”

And real change is what he has proposed throughout his campaign, advocating a $15 minimum wage, an end to trade deals that grant corporations unrivaled power, and a single-payer healthcare system.

It is on these issues, Sanders contends, that the media should be focusing.

But the media has dismissed Sanders, and the issues for which he has fought most passionately, from the beginning. Some of the most prominent names in the American press, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, have dismissed Sanders since the beginning of his campaign with scorn, deriding his agenda as overly idealistic and politically unworkable.

Neal Gabler writes, “From the moment he announced his candidacy in April 2015, the media treated Sanders as if he were unlikely to win.”

But it is Sanders, and not the mainstream press, who is gaining in the war of ideas? His call for a “political revolution” has inspired millions — particularly the young — to participate in the political process and to run for office themselves.

He has forced into the mainstream conversation a serious discussion about campaign finance reform and Wall Street greed. He has placed significant and unrelenting pressure on the Democratic establishment, which has for decades failed to meet the needs of the people.

All without the help of the mainstream media.

Why would these media outlets cover favorably — or at all — a candidate who represents the opposition to their positions of power and influence?

As Sanders himself has noted, “The media is an arm of the ruling class of this country.”

And the ruling class doesn’t take kindly to its opposition.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]