Friday, April 01, 2016

Observations on media bias against Bernie Sanders

There is a deep and wide mistrust about the media and how they are covering this election. When Bernie Sanders started filling stadiums and received little to zero press about it, Sanders supporters started to see just how selective the press can be. It was all over social media with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but he was nowhere to be seen in national news. Sanders supporters saw a news culture more willing to show an empty stage left by Donald Trump than to show Sanders speaking to a stadium full of fervent supporters.

We are also seeing this same bias against Sanders with polling. Polls have been off by wide margins. They missed the biggest upset in modern history with Sanders' win in Michigan. Sanders won by a landslide in the primaries in Utah, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, yet only one poll was done in Utah. That poll predicted a Sanders win by 8%. They weren't even close and it was a local paper that did the poll.

I've seen numerous posts and memes (Images with words slapped on top) suggesting a conspiracy among the major media. I was thinking that way, too. I was thinking that this blind spot that the media has for Bernie Sanders was a conspiracy. But after reading this piece by Robert Reich, Why The Major Media Marginalize Bernie Sanders, I've come to take a different view.

Here's the nugget of his article, what changed my way of thinking about how the media perceive Sanders or not at all:
Some Sanders supporters speak in dark tones about a media conspiracy against Bernie. That’s baloney. The mainstream media are incapable of conspiring with anyone or anything. They wouldn’t dare try. Their reputations are on the line. If the public stops trusting them, their brands are worth nothing.
The real reason the major media can’t see what’s happening is because the national media exist inside the bubble of establishment politics, centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power, centered in New York.
That bubble protects the elites of the national media from the rest of us. They don't see how the rest of us live. They think that we really care about the personalities and gossip of the candidates that they pawn off on us as news. They look at Bernie Sanders like a scientist looks at dark matter. They know that he's there, and that he's attracting a huge following, but they don't know what to do with him. He might as well be an alien.

6 parent corporations own 90% of the major media. That means 6 parent corporations are controlling the news and the narrative. We're talking about multinational corporations with profits in the billions. An executive sitting on top of a controlling interest in one of those companies probably doesn't even handle money on a day to day basis. All he sees are the numbers. He wants to make them bigger for that is the only thing that ever seems to change in his life.

He doesn't see "us", the little people who buy the products that are advertised on his media network. It's all just dollars and cents. So when an elderly man pops up for president and speaks the truth to stadiums packed with those little people, that executive doesn't know what to do. Like a deer stuck in headlights, he doesn't want to acknowledge what is coming at him, but at the same time, he's not taking any action.

Well, almost no action. The only action the major media are taking is to focus on what is more familiar and comforting to them. That would be the establishment candidate, Hilary Clinton. Or they focus on the personalities on the GOP side, with Trump, Cruz Rubio and Kasich. There were more, but they were forced out of the clown car long ago.

Sanders is almost completely alien to the major media. They're looking him up in their dictionaries and their zoology texts, but they just can't find him. They really don't understand him and they've never seen anything like him. The elite of the national press, the "mainstream media", have become comfortable with the way things are. They are not comfortable with anything that looks like it might upset their position in life.

To the mainstream media, a president by the name of Bernie Sanders is deeply unsettling. So they ignore him. Considering the way Sanders is packing stadiums at his rallies, this isn't about ratings. Their ratings would go through the roof if they aired his rallies live, on a national network. They must know this. But they don't understand his message, so they don't put him on the air in front of stadiums. The last thing they want to do is see the herd effect in action. The revolution will not be televised.

I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter. I'm learning to get comfortable with the fact that there is a political revolution in progress. The mainstream media will not televise it or speak about it because they don't understand it. Perhaps by the time of the Democratic National Convention, they will get it.

Until then, I will try not to look at the media blackout of Bernie Sanders as a national betrayal. I will assume ignorance before malice. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

I will continue to write about it here, and watch what unfolds in what is perhaps the greatest political contest I have ever seen. Grab some popcorn and a chair and watch the show. And vote. Remember to vote.
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