Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Major Networks, The Bernie Blackout Continues

To the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, the corporate press has dished out the usual treatment given liberal or left candidates; the Vermont Senator has been been persistently marginalized, talked down or simply ignored. Particularly ignored. This author has written about it more than once, as have others. Even as Sanders draws larger crowds than any other candidate of either major party, sets one fundraising record after another--nearly all in small donations--and has been leading in the always-prominent New Hampshire primary for months, the silence has just grown louder. Eric Boehlert over at Media Matters has been giving some attention in recent weeks to some work by media monitor Andrew Tyndall that quantifies this phenomenon with real numbers.

Tyndall tracks coverage of the various presidential candidates by the evening newscasts of the three major networks. From 1 Jan. to the last day of November, Sanders' campaign has received only 10 minutes of coverage--less than a minute a month. ABC's World News Tonight--the worst offender--gave Sanders' campaign only 20 seconds, a brief mention on the day of his official announcement that he had, in fact, entered the race. And part of that was devoted to Hillary Clinton's reaction to this development.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, managed nearly as much coverage as Sanders--8 minutes--merely be announcing he wouldn't be running again, something no one expected him to do anyway. Speculation regarding a potential candidacy by Vice President Joe Biden, something that never even materialized, received nearly an hour (56 minutes).

Who is getting the coverage?

Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner but while his national poll numbers have consistently shown him on par with or behind Sanders in popular support, he's received over 23 times Sanders' coverage and is, in fact, the most covered candidate by far, drawing nearly 4 hours (234 minutes). That's over 1/4 of all coverage of all the various campaigns and nearly twice as much as that offered all of the Democratic candidates combined.

Jeb Bush is the second-most-covered Republican with 56 minutes devoted to his campaign. Ben Carson is at #3 with 54 minutes and Marco Rubio fourth at 22 minutes. All three of these candidates are way, way behind Sanders in popular support. Bush's campaign is stalled in single digits, Rubio is barely cracking double.

When Sen. Sanders launched his campaign, the biggest initial hurdle he had to overcome was that few knew who he was. The corporate press, following its dismal, long-established pattern with regard to liberal and left candidates, has done its level best to ensure that as few learn of him as possible. The press insists on treating Hillary Clinton, his chief Democratic rival, as the heir to be coronated. She is, overall, the second-most-covered candidate in the race. Nationally, she leads Sanders by more than 20% but she's received more than 11 times the coverage (113 minutes) and while, throughout the year, her numbers have trended flat or have declined, Sanders, who started as a 4% margin-of-error candidate, has, with his minimal coverage, managed to rise to more than 30%. One can only imagine where he could be if the press actually reported his existence.


No comments:

Post a Comment