In response to a story that has been picking up steam in regard to lack of Bernie Sanders coverage, the New York Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, recently told his public editor Margaret Sullivan that he wants to focus more heavily on issue stories in the coming weeks and months. Candidates like Mr. Sanders – no matter how electable they prove to be – can and should be a part of that. Times readers are completely within their rights to expect and demand it.
When Bernie declared his candidacy it was overlooked almost completely. While nearly the rest of the field got frontpage treatment when they announced, Sanders’ was tucked away neatly on page A21 as almost an afterthought, no it was an afterthought. They didn’t think we’d notice and hoped we wouldn’t. But times are changing. Bernie has the power of a whole lot of people now and they absolutely are demanding to be treated fairly and with respect.
Sullivan goes on to admit that the Times has been dismissive in its tone when it comes to cover the campaign of the Vermont Senator. She also concedes that his coverage has been light compared to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump while insisting it’s been on the level of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. That would fine except that as a candidate he should be on the level of the first two, not the second two, at least in regards to coverage.
Since Mr. Sanders declared his candidacy at the end of April, Sullivan says The Times has published 59 articles about him. In her post she makes it clear that she feels the “Grumpy Old Socialist” has received considerable attention from The Times, but for his supporters, not nearly enough. And the tone of the coverage, many complain, has sometimes been derogatory or dismissive, and has been focused on personality, not issues.
From the September 4th post in which Sullivan agreed to look into the one-sided coverage, “Stop the media blackout on candidates who are not Donald Trump or Secretary Hillary Clinton,” Roswell Colt Deutscher wrote in an email to me. And Chris Switzer, in an email criticizing Sanders coverage earlier in the summer, wrote: “I’ve enjoyed my subscription to the Times but I would like to see better coverage of the issues, less coverage of the personalities, and a little bit of parity among the candidates.”
As we know, many people still have misgivings about the word Socialist. Not hard to figure out when the first thing you see while googling the word is a damning definition that would turn anyone off. The Times, a powerhouse of media, by using that word without the “Democratic” prefix is party to mission to suppress the positive message that Sanders carries with him everywhere he goes.
Who can forgot his exchange with the Times reporter about Hillary’s hair? It’s not that Bernie is always grumpy. I’ve spent time around him in person and he seems warm and delightful. But if you are going to have a serious conversation(which is what he wants the press for), he might come off as grumpy if you ask him something that is totally irrelevant to the conversation in his opinion. That exchange though probably helped The Times further paint Bernie into a neat little box, neat for them that is. It’s quite possible they under-estimated the amount of supporters he has and how active they will be if the playing field is not level.
So the mighty New York Times has admitted they dropped the ball and vows to change that going forward, don’t worry, we’ll be watching with our scorecards out and keeping track at home.