The media blackout of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — also referred to as the “Bernie Blackout” — is a reported pattern that has been brought up by the Vermont senator and his supporters, as well as political commentators like David Pakman, who likened it to a “type of interference in the primary.” On Thursday, David Sirota, the Sanders campaign’s senior advisor and speechwriter, took to Twitter to call on Sanders supporters to post examples of media outlets “omitting or visually misplacing Bernie” in polls.
Thus far, the thread has dozens of responses highlighting the many times Sanders has received inaccurate or misleading coverage, and Sirota himself posted an example reportedly from this morning. The picture shows a CNN chyron that puts Biden in the lead with California Latino voters with 27 percent support. In second is Sanders with 25 percent support, and in third is Warren with 10 percent support. Despite the data, the headline on-screen claims that Biden and Warren are in the lead among Latino voters, conflicting with the graphic behind it.
A recent In These Times report on MSNBC’s coverage of the Vermont senator revealed that Sanders receives less airtime than Warren and Biden as well as more negative coverage. In addition, Jacobin Magazine previously claimed that MSNBC tends to cover Sanders’ campaign in a way that paints it as unrealistic and losing steam.
A request: in the comments, can you please post examples of media outlets omitting or visually misplacing Bernie in reporting on poll numbers. I'm looking for stuff like this from this morning. I'd like examples from anytime during this campaign. Thanks for any help you can be. pic.twitter.com/pU5TLfFm20
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) December 12, 2019
It’s not just MSNBC, either. Common Dreams reports that a recent PBS NewsHour segment on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary did not mention Sanders once, despite being a frontrunner that has been surging in the polls. The program even covered marginal candidates like Steve Bullock and Joe Sestak, who have left the race.
“Incredible. He’s just… erased. He’s gone. Bernie who?” Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson wrote in a piece on the exclusion.
Nina Turner, a national co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 campaign, recently spoke to The Hill’s Rising host Krystal Ball about the media blackout of Sanders, which she said is “real” and “not a figment of our imagination.”
“I don’t want to see any candidate blacked out but certainly not a candidate that is polling in the top one or two and certainly is in the top three of the candidates that could get the Democratic nomination. It is wrong and the system is rigged.”
The coverage of Sanders mirrors that of fellow Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Yang supporter and universal basic income (UBI) advocate Scott Santens previously made a Twitter thread similar to Sirota’s that chronicled the media’s exclusions of the 44-year-old serial entrepreneur. The thread is now in the form of an article on Vocal Media.