Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron bashed Sen. Bernie Sanders for pushing a “conspiracy theory” that the paper’s news coverage is influenced by its owner, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Baron said in a statement. “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.”
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Sanders spoke Monday on the presidential campaign trail in Wolfeboro, N.H., about how Amazon paid no money in taxes last year.
“I talk about that all of the time,” Sanders continued. “And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to 15 bucks an hour.”
Sanders has long accused the “corporate media” of putting the interests of the elite above those of the majority of Americans. But Sanders’ swipe on Monday went a step beyond his usual media critique in suggesting a news organization covered him unfairly because of its owner. His comments echoed those of President Donald Trump, who has blamed Bezos for unflattering coverage in the paper, calling the Post “the Amazon Washington Post” in tweets.
A Sanders spokesperson did not immediately respond to Baron’s comments.
The Vermont senator’s presidential campaign has been especially critical of the news media, suggesting journalists are dismissing his candidacy. Campaign manager Faiz Shakir told POLITICO last month “there are a healthy number [of journalists] who just find Bernie annoying, discount his seriousness, and wish his supporters and movement would just go away.”
Sanders isn’t the only Democrat airing grievances about the media. Several 2020 presidential candidates took aim at The New York Times last week over a headline framing Trump’s comments after two mass shootings. The Twitter backlash against the Times came a day after former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke responded to a reporter’s question in El Paso, Texas, about how Trump could improve things after the shootings with, “What the fuck?”
“A vast swath of Democratic voters are pretty angry at the media,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior Obama aide and current co-host of “Pod Save America,” told POLITICO. “For the first time in my career, making the press a foil is good politics in a Democratic primary.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign isn’t happy with news coverage either. On Monday, senior adviser Symone Sanders suggested on CNN the national “press narrative” is different than the “voter narrative.”
The news media has recently covered several of Biden’s misstatements, which POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo report have undercut his message on the campaign trail. Sanders suggested the gaffes do not matter. “This is not something that’s registering with the American people,” she said.