January 17, 2020

Sanders Backs Off Suggestion that Bezos Influences WaPo’s Coverage of His Campaign


Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday downplayed his previous suggestion that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos influences the Washington Post‘s coverage of his presidential campaign.

“Do I think Jeff Bezos is on the phone, telling the editor of the Washington Post what to do? Absolutely not. It doesn’t work that way,” Sanders told CNN.

A day earlier, during remarks in New Hampshire, Sanders complained about the newspaper’s coverage of him, noting that he has pressured Amazon, the online-retail giant founded and run by Bezos, to raise its minimum wage.

“I wonder why the Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me,” the Democratic presidential candidate said. “I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to 15 bucks an hour as well.”

His comments drew a sharp reprimand from Post editor Marty Baron.

“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Baron said in a statement. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

At the same time as he partially backed off of his remarks on Tuesday, Sanders also criticized media coverage of his campaign more generally.

“In media in general there is a framework that the New York Times operates under, that the Washington Post operates under, CNN operates under,” Sanders said. “Not one reporter has ever asked me, ‘Bernie, what are you going to do about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality?’ Are you going to ask me that? Is that part of what media talks about?”

“It doesn’t mean it’s unfair to me personally, but if those are the issues that I’m campaigning on, and those are the issues that I cannot talk about, then what I am trying to do does not get out to the American people,” he added.

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Mairead McArdle
National Review