The Bernie Sanders Media Blackout by the Numbers

Why aren’t the major TV networks paying any attention? “A guy in his 70s filling stadiums? Who does he think he is? The Rolling Stones?” Stephen Colbert said on his show earlier this week.

If you were watching Colbert last week and have been paying attention to Bernie’s meteoric rise you are likely asking yourself and anyone else who cares, just why is it that the media doesn’t give him much airtime.

And when they do it usually goes some thing like this:


Andrew Tyndall monitored broadcast news from ABC, NBC, and CBS and found that of the 504 minutes devoted thus far to the presidential race, 145 minutes had been dedicated to talking about “The Donald”, that’s around 30 percent and there were 165 minutes allotted to Hillary Clinton, with about half of that total talking about her email problems.

But what about Bernie? How much time is he really getting. We’ve all been complaining loudly that the networks have all but shunned him. Is it as bad as we think it is? Well he’s gotten a paltry 8 minutes on network news. That’s less than 2 percent and this for the guy that is leading in Iowa and New Hampshire and although I heavily question the methodology of the “national” polls, is doing well there too. The networks have devoted about that much time to Chis Christie, who most agree has no shot. They’ve also handed Jeb Bush, despite his low polling numbers, somewhere around 43 minutes of airtime, which is 5 times what Bernie has gotten.

BERNIE SEPTOf course we all know that media likes controversy and Bernie has asserted again and again that this campaign is going to be about issues and not personal attacks. That platform in itself probably tells us a lot when we look at why he doesn’t get talked about. His campaign has swept the nation and while millions “Feel The Bern” – it’s a “feel good” story and networks rarely ever talk about that stuff.  The American people want train-wrecks, death and destruction….it’s what has worked for them(the networks). Shocking headlines bring in more people, not unicorns and glittery rainbow stories, sadly.

So does Bernie have to get in bed with them to win this thing? Does he even need them? These are questions that are going to be answered in the months ahead. With as well as he’s been doing, he’ll be attacked more and more and whether or not he chooses to retaliate is yet to be seen. If he does he’d surely get more coverage but at what cost? I’m banking that he stays the course and that might be the smartest method.

Maybe there is actually another way. There is an incredible amount power to the “Feel The Bern” movement. Many of them us consumers of products made by companies that advertise. If millions of people were to get behind a cause, and let’s say, stop buying products that are made by the Koch Brothers, or some other corporate entity that controls the networks. Wouldn’t some of the networks have to start looking at the bottom line? I’m guessing yes.

Bernie MarchThe collective power of our wallets have the ability to change things. We’ve seen that with Bernie’s fundraising. He’s raised nearly as much as the candidates that rely on contributions from the millionaires and billionaires that are controlling our government. In the past three months, Sanders has raised close to $26 million, right behind Clinton’s $28 million for the same time period. The difference is though that the majority of Bernie’s money has come from  small donations online averaging $30, in stark contrast to Clinton’s reliance on donors with deep pockets.

So Bernie Sanders, who made political history with a staggering 1.3 contributions from 650K individuals has gotten just as much airtime as Mitt Romney got when he was considering a campaign earlier this year.

Perhaps Bernie’s “political revolution” against Wall Street and big corporations that stash their money overseas could be to blame for the “Bernie Blackout”.

“When 3 giant corporations own the majority of the mainstream and easily accessible media, and the candidate they aren’t covering is calling out that type of corporate corruption … connect the dots,” a Sanders’ supporter recently said to the Huffington Post.

It’s likely a combination of both the “Feel Good” element behind Bernie and corporate control over the media. One thing that is clear is that there is a lot riding on this election and the powers-that-be will not go down easily. For the time being they are not going play fair on network TV. But remember this, You Are The Media. We can do this without them and we will if we have to.


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G.A. Casebeer

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