Bernie Sanders, his campaign leader and a senior advisor to him have begun claiming that the Washington Post is stacked against him because it is owned by the owner of Amazon, one of the largest billionaires regularly charged by The Bern. However, when confronted by the honest media, they have failed to produce any proof or even hint of such media bias or falsehood. Did Sanders take a leaf from Trump’s playbook? The latter systematically attacks the serious media of being fake and lying.
Some commentators have already claimed that Sanders’ criticism is Trumpian — and dangerous to freedom of and respect for the press and so to democracy. I will show you that the comparison is wanting.
But first, let me say that Bernie obviously was wrong and needs to apologize. The Washington Post staff has declared to be left editorially completely free and independent by its owner, calling his unsubstantiated claim a [baseless] conspiracy theory. There is no reason to assume that they said so because the owner made them say that.
It is understandable that when one is criticized seriously, one quickly feels that that’s unfair. But that’s no proof that it is. Some of the Post’s treatment of Sanders, in fact, may well have been unfair but that’s not the same as being systematically unfair to him. To be able to truthfully say that, treatment of all the candidates need to be compared.
The free press draws attention by being critical and sometimes hyper-critical and negative. That doesn’t make reporting biased of unfair. Although I understand that candidates prefer a long row of softballs on TV that gives them a chance to explain themselves at length.
So, I’m convinced that Sanders’ camp’s criticism of the Washington Post was unfair. That still doesn’t make him Trumpian.
Above all, Trump attacks the press as Enemy One of the people (the pot calling the kettle black) as a strategy and doesn’t try to be factually. He will not apologize for his attacks of the free press because he tries to be tactical, not factual. He’s a known con artist. That is the main reason for scrutinizing whatever he says. (Which is a form of taking him seriously for no good reason. I think everyone needs to shrug at whatever he says or tweets.) On top of that, he’s extremely thin-skinned.
Sanders, on the other hand, is well-known for his integrity. (And I know him for his naivety because he believes Haaretz and bases his anti-Israel idea on their baseless slander.) He’s not used to being torn to shreds and so he assumes unfairness when that happens. And he will apologize.