Bernie Sanders supporters have said repeatedly that the major media outlets have been ignoring their candidate since he entered the race. They now have proof of those assertions in the form of the Tyndall Report on media coverage of the Presidential candidates so far. It certainly won’t make Sanders supporters happy to be vindicated in this way, especially when they hear some of the data.
In brief, the Tyndall Report is counting only stories filed about each political campaign or from those campaigns, and not counting references to those candidates when the major media outlets are discussing political debates and the like. ABC seems to have been the worst offender in this regard. According to the report, ABC has given a total of 81 minutes of news coverage to Donald Trump compared to 0.3 minutes, or about twenty seconds, to Bernie Sanders.
That is quite shocking, but it isn’t really a huge surprise when you consider that most news outlets don’t think Bernie Sanders has a chance of winning the primaries, let alone the Presidency. However, one could say the same about Martin O’Malley, and yet he has more pieces published about him in the New York Times than Mr. Sanders. That’s rather surprising when you consider how much support Bernie Sanders has among Democrats as opposed to Mr. O’Malley.
Maybe it is because those who have been in politics or reporting on it for a long time don’t understand the Sanders campaign and how it is even competing with Hillary Clinton. After all, most of the news outlets have already assumed that Hillary will win the primaries without serious competition. Some political commentators, like Chris Matthews, see Sanders as nothing more than a political foil for Hillary Clinton in the primaries to sharpen her skills against before the big show.
This disparity of coverage may not exist if America hadn’t abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 which said that media outlets had to give contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues equal airtime. Then again we wouldn’t have Fox News if this rule were still in place, or at least it wouldn’t be considered an actual news station. Even with the Fairness Doctrine it is hard to be certain that Bernie Sanders would get more airtime on major media. This years’ Presidential campaign has been long on rhetoric and insane proclamations and short on actual issues that matter to the general public.
Maybe that is really the largest problem with our American media nowadays. Despite the fact that people who should be considered viable Presidential candidates are being snubbed by national media outlets, we have stopped focusing on real issues and let the sound-bites and insanity of the moment rule the airwaves. It is hard to make a deeply considered and thought out decision, such as who should be the next President of the United States, when you are kept from knowing what exactly the candidates stand for. Our media outlets should stop spending so much time on what might get them higher ratings and instead focus more on what “we the people” should know.