On Saturday, Feb. 22, Bernie Sanders swept the Nevada caucuses, bagging a total of 24 out of the 36 delegates available. Also on Saturday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews compared the Jewish candidate’s major win – a candidate who has spoken openly about the murders of his family members during the Holocaust – to the Third Reich’s invasion of France.
Earlier this month, NBC’s Chuck Todd had also provided a comparison of Bernie’s supporters to a digital “brownshirt brigade,” the German group under the early days of Nazism dedicated to intimidating and oppressing Jewish, Romani and union individuals. In the backlash that ensued for these comments, more and more ties have been drawn between Sanders and Trump, such as Sanders’ concern for hearing things he “doesn’t like,” these things seeming to be a volley of anti-Semitic remarks circulating major media outlets more frequently as he’s gained more momentum.
What fair journalism looks like is a conversation that is quite larger than the scope of this column. That being said, I am certain in my five combined years of journalistic writing experience that this is not it.
I should be clear that I am not now, nor will I ever be, using this platform to bolster any particular candidate; for the sake of honesty and confronting bias, however, I should say that senator Bernie Sanders has my support, and you’re welcome to email me about that at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like. I am here to draw up the concern and shock I have felt at the American media in recent years from that perspective, and why we must push for a revamping of our journalistic process, our respect and our morals.
It is a problem when the government is gorging itself on the financial support of a few corporations and billionaires. It is a problem when our media is made to survive on that same financial support. It is especially a problem when reporting on this problem (and its creators) makes reporting the truth more difficult than muddling it with opinions. I want to be clear here: this is not a conviction of someone touting the deep state or fake news. This is a recognition of patterns and displays that is easily linked to who keeps these two systems alive.
There are ideologies and issues given preference in our media. In a country where news outlets must fight for clicks and readership money to survive, that which makes the most money comes first. Second has become what best protects the status quo, since that best protects the pockets of the owners of these news outlets. Third is the truth. But what do I mean by this?
The most prominent example is likely the Washington Post. Owned by the billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, the Washington Post has had some quite interesting reporting as of late. A cursory search through their backlogs of articles on Amazon would leave you struggling to find much negative reporting on this company. There is not much mention of any recent strikes at Amazon distribution centers in Minnesota, nor any whisper of the comments raised by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration from last month regarding skyrocketing warehouse injuries.
Without that reporting, people who depend on the Wash. Post for news will not know that Amazon has violated labor laws. They will not know about their anti-labor practices. They will not have the opportunity to decide if that information is concerning to them as consumers and as workers. The guardians of the truth cannot be selective about their reporting, and our society should never have positioned their survival on that selectivity.
This has been expounded upon further during this current election cycle.
“But Soleil,” I’m sure you’re already thinking, “all the other candidates get their own smattering of punditry and cruel messaging in the news, not just Bernie! Stop being such a baby!” Fair point. I am a big baby. So, let’s consider some other candidates for a moment.
Former NYC mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, another Democratic hopeful, has recently come under major criticism by the public for his policy of stop and frisk, a move that allowed police to profile and target black citizens and frisk them without warrant or reason. Yet a quick look at NPR, MSNBC and CNN in the last week shows five, six and eight articles respectively on Bloomberg. Of these, none of NPR’s, four of MSNBC’s and three of CNN’s have any critical reporting on stop and frisk when you search his name on their websites.
Pete Buttigieg has also made some mistakes on the campaign trail. In unveiling his Douglass Plan, intended to combat systemic oppression against the black community in America, Buttigieg proceeded to lie about having the support of black leaders in South Carolina, publishing a list of 422 prominent black South Carolinians who supported him. Of the 422, none of whom consented to being on this published list, 184 were actually white South Carolina voters while only 297 of them were South Carolina voters at all (as reported by The_Intercept, who I recommend much more than the media outlets I’ve been speaking of, if you’re interested in my unsolicited advice). MSNBC has no articles about these events nor about the Douglass Plan in general, and NPR and CNN have two about the plan and none about the faked black supporters. Pretty weird, right?
If you don’t believe me, that’s okay. I’m not here to bring you to my side. I’m here to show you some of the truth and have you take a second to think about it. Fair, free media and money do not mix. If free press is the guardian of a free democracy then that freedom must mean free from government influence and capital, fully at the will and sway of only the people and the truth. Do you feel that that’s what our system actually represents today?