News Release

Establishment Media’s Attempted Takedowns of Sanders


ROBIN ANDERSEN, andersen at, @FAIRmediawatch
Andersen is professor and director of graduate studies in the department of communication and media studies at Fordham University. She just wrote the piece “Factchecking NPR’s Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders,” part of the media watch group FAIR’s focus on the 2020 election.

Andersen writes that on NPR, Mara Liasson “claimed that the main issue for the Democratic Party is ‘electability’ — a fraught term often used to signal ideological orthodoxy rather than empirical chances of winning elections (, 10/25/19). She asserted that Democrats are ‘confused,’ and ‘for good reason,’ because Trump remains an ‘existential threat,’ and not only are none of the candidates ‘a sure thing,’ none even ‘seem likely to defeat’ Trump.

“Such handwringing is, again, not founded in facts or data. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published the day before this broadcast — one day ahead of the Iowa caucuses — found that Trump was trailing all the leading 2020 Democratic candidates, with the top four candidates ahead of Trump in theoretical head-to-head matchups. Looking more broadly at polling, the two candidates who were then leading the Democratic field, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, had beaten Trump in 69 of 73 and 63 of 68 matchups, respectively.”

NBC is the main corporate media outlet determining the issues and questions at the Nevada debate tonight, organized by the Democratic National Committee.

A picket line was formed outside ABC following the last debate, organized by Accuracy2020, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy, noting: “while the DNC and corporate-media-coproduced debates have excluded serious candidates at times, they have just changed their own rules to include billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Last night, ABC injected him into the debate. Not the words of candidates of color who have been forced out of the debates — Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker or Julián Castro — but Bloomberg.” See report on The Real News: “Activists Demand Public Control of Presidential Debates.”

See from Salon: “MSNBC’s Chuck Todd under fire for reciting quote comparing Sanders supporters to Nazis.”

FAIR noted in their critique of a prior NBC debate: “‘Government-Run Healthcare’ Is a Product of Health Industry-Run Media,” writing: “At the first of two Democratic debates (6/26/19), MSNBC host and moderator Lester Holt asked the presidential hopefuls, ‘Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?’ He asked the same question the next night (6/27/19), and prefaced another question to Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘You basically want to scrap the private health insurance system as we know it and replace it with a government-run plan.’ The question at the first debate, however, was asked just a day after a new report came out from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). The report, ‘Parroting the Right: How the Media, Pollsters Adoption of Insurance Industry Spin Warps Democracy,’ demonstrates how power brokers in the for-profit health industry have worked to make this exact language (‘government-run healthcare’) the boilerplate description for a national health system in major media outlets.”

Also from FAIR from 2016: “Lester Holt Asks Zero Questions About Poverty, Abortion, Climate Change.”