Many Bernie Sanders supporters have complained that the media is not paying attention to his candidacy, and rightly so. However, the same can be said for nearly every other candidate in the race who has to struggle to gain any kind of press coverage that anyone will notice. Why? Because the American public (and subsequently the media) is utterly obsessed with Donald Trump and every outrageous new thing that he does in order to keep the public entertained.
Bernie Sanders took the media to task yesterday in New Hampshire for ignoring his campaign and claimed that Wall Street and the media is afraid of the political movement which has coalesced behind him.
“The American people, I think, increasingly understand that corporate media is prepared to discuss everything 24 hours a day, seven days a week except the most important issues facing the American people,” Sanders said Monday during a town hall in Conway. “Increasingly what media sees campaigns being are soap operas and football games, rather than a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.”
Sanders used similar lines in Salem, New Hampshire, on Sunday night, lamenting the fact that Republican candidate Marco Rubio hitting a child in the head with a football during a trip to Iowa got “more coverage than Marco Rubio’s position on Social Security.” (Source)
Bernie Sanders is right; the media doesn’t want to talk about the important issues, and a good reason why is that the general public would rather be entertained than informed. However, I think that he’s wrong for claiming that the media is involved in some sort of conspiracy against his campaign. I know that the anti-corporate rhetoric resonates well with many members of the left who are rightfully fed up with money in politics, but this seems aimed more at those who buy into various shades of the conspiracy mentality that I see many liberals embrace.
It seems like the average American would rather be outraged over the senseless killing of Cecil The Lion by a trophy hunter than they would the fact that Ted Cruz and right-wing clerics are trying to shut down Planned Parenthood once and for all. Why? Because being outraged about something that most of us aren’t willing or able to change instead of something that requires a little sacrifice and elbow grease seems to be the new American way, both on the left and the right.
No, this is not a zero-sum outrage situation – you can and should be angry about both issues. But as David Christopher Bell pointed out over at Cracked.com, it seems that while we get up in arms about an issue for a brief and furious period, we usually don’t proceed to the next step of actually doing anything about it. Consider the fact that much of the Trump campaign is being fueled by nativist white resentment toward immigrants and issues like the removal of the Confederate flag from government property. These people are angry and misguided, but you have to at least give them credit for doing something besides signing a petition to revoke Fox News’ broadcasting license – or sharing yet another news article about the latest OUTRAGEOUS thing that Donald Trump or Fox News has said.
It isn’t just the corporate media that is transfixed with Trump. As an example, here is the front page of the independently-owned political blog Talking Points Memo from this morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Josh Marshall and TPM, but like the rest of the media, it’s all Trump, all the time. You can’t really blame them in a way, because why would a blogger spend hours writing a well-researched story on the problem of money in politics when a story I wrote in maybe 30 minutes about Josh Duggar being exposed in the Ashley Madison hack was the second most popular story I’ve had in the last month?
Like it or not, most media sources are profit-driven or they’re funded by special interest groups. (To be clear, Forward Progressives has accepted absolutely zero donations from any lobbyist, special interest group or politician in our 2+ years of existence. We are supported by the advertising you see on our website, and your readership.)
Remember, just a few decades ago, most people got their news from only a couple of sources. Now there are literally hundreds of thousands of sources for “news” and commentary available with the quick type of a few keystrokes.
This is why you aren’t likely to find many blogs on the disparity between how black and white murder suspects are treated differently, because the majority of people would rather wallow in the Schadenfreude that results from another hypocrite being exposed. And don’t even get me started on liberal websites that distort or completely make up stories about racism simply to boost their traffic and income.
However, let’s go back to Bernie Sanders and his beef with corporate media to close this out. The media isn’t completely ignoring his campaign; just this morning a poll came out showing Bernie Sanders with a 7-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and I saw that covered extensively. I am a huge fan of Senator Sanders and most of what he is talking about, but the media is starting to pay more attention to him and there isn’t necessarily a conspiracy against him. It’s just that, like everyone else, he’s suffering from the Trump vacuum and the only way to change that is to stop being outraged by every new Trump stunt.
If we as media consumers aren’t actively sharing and talking about stories and issues that matter, then it is hard to blame the media for simply supplying what the majority of people seem to want – political outrage and celebrity gossip.
“To sit home, read one’s favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men’s doing.” – President Theodore Roosevelt
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