"We have pointed out over and over again that Amazon made $10 billion in profits last year. You know how much they paid in taxes? You got it, zero! Any wonder why The Washington Post is not one of my great supporters? I wonder why?” Sanders told attendees at his North Conway town hall in New Hampshire on Monday, hours after making similar comments in the state’s town of Wolfeboro.
Sanders later clarified his remarks for those believing that he meant Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Post, is literally picking up the phone to make the final call and assign daily political hit-jobs. The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate instead argued that the way corporate media covers campaigns is fundamentally flawed.
The Post fired back at Sanders’ comments in New Hampshire in a Tuesday article, comparing the candidate to Trump, who has been extremely vocal about his distaste for most corporate media - other than Fox News (well, usually).
“Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest,” Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor, said in a statement quoted in the piece.
While the Post’s headline notes that Sanders provided no immediate evidence for his claim against them, journalists Danielle Ryan and Caitlin Johnstone cited a 2016 Fair.org article that listed an occasion on which The Post ran approximately 16 negative stories about the Vermont senator within hours.
Ted Rall, an award winning journalist and editorial cartoonist, joined the Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Wednesday to give his thoughts on Sanders’ showdown with corporate media and offer insight on how he believes this corporate news structure came to be.
“It’s much more subtle,” Rall told host Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. “The way it works at these corporate media outlets is that they end up with editors and reporters who are generally sympathetic to mainstream Democratic and Republican politics.”
“Obviously the people who work for him are well aware of who their owner is, and they don’t have to be given direct orders to do or not do anything, or to know that Bernie Sanders is semi-persona non grata,” the journalist added.
Sanders also took a swipe at the New York Times at his North Conway town hall, noting that the Times is “not much better” than its competitors.
Rall went on to say that if Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination and face off against Trump in the 2020 presidential election, “the [New York] Times and the Post and these other center-left, neo-liberal outlets would be in a definite pickle,” comparable to the 1972 presidential election, when Republican President Richard Nixon defeated liberal, Democratic Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.
That election, and McGovern’s winning of only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, was what triggered the Democratic National Committee to vow to never nominate and push forward another liberal candidate, according to Kiriakou.
Rall added that, like Nixon, Trump probably would be the victor in this scenario, due to the corporatization of media and “fewer liberal families owning newspapers.”