Bernie Sanders has an incredibly important primary in Wisconsin tomorrow, and at this point in the campaign, it’s essentially a must-win. Which means that heading into today, we were 100 percent going to get a corporate media hit-piece on the candidate with the audacity to interrupt Hillary’s coronation. It came from the New York Times, which is no surprise—although for pure volume, they really can’t touch the pre-Super Tuesday output from the Washington Post.
Still, the Times came up with a pretty impressive new angle. Apparently, you see, the Bernie Sanders campaign is dead. Check out this headline:
Man, that Sanders guy sounds like he really screwed up! Totally lost it! Oh well, maybe next time!
But, uhhhh…they know he’s won 14 states, right? Just shy of Hillary’s 18? They know he’s won six of the last seven primaries? They now he’s now out-raised her in two straight months, and is on pace to break every fundraising record in the book? They know he’s never had more momentum, in the entire race, than right now? And they know he hasn’t dropped out, or conceded, or died, or turned Republican?
Apparently they known none of these things. The really interesting part of this article is how many subjects they got on the record from the Sanders camp, including his wife Jane, and top advisers Jeff Weaver and Tad Devine. I seriously doubt any of them would have agreed to participate if they had known the tenor of the final piece, which makes me wonder how this thing was pitched. I feel like full transparency wouldn’t have worked: “Hey guys, we’re doing a post-mortem on Bernie, even though he’s still in the campaign. Will you talk to us?”
We may never know how it went down, but we do know that the Times’ tried-and-true formula of covering its bases by saying something vaguely positive just before undermining it with a larger negative is in full force:
Mr. Sanders is now campaigning more effectively than many expected, exposing Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate, and is positioning himself to win contests like the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. But allies and advisers of Mr. Sanders say they missed opportunities to run an aggressive political operation in 2015 that would have presented more of a challenge to Mrs. Clinton. She has now firmly built a big lead in delegates needed to clinch the nomination — a margin that would be smaller if Mr. Sanders had run differently last year, according to interviews with more than 15 people who are on his team or close to him.
He’s doing good but BAD BAD BAD.
(You’ll be shocked to know that the paper of record failed to mention that Sanders won the Nevada caucus yesterday, despite leaning on the first Nevada results for the entire story.)
For the most part, though, the reporting is pretty interesting, even as the reporters (or is it editors) manage to take pot shot after pot shot at Sanders. It’s just that the timing is so suspect—this is a story that typically runs after a candidate has dropped out, now when he’s on a roll. It’s totally tone deaf, except tone deaf implies something accidental, and Sanders supporters have seen too many “coincidences” like this one to believe in accidents. In sports terms, what the Times has done here is to watch a team mount a comeback in the third quarter, and instead of reporting on the comeback and how the leader is reacting, they can’t stop talking about mistakes in the first quarter. Did those mistakes matter? Sure. Is now the time to bring it up? Nope. Not unless you’re unstated goal is to detract from the current positive trend at a critical moment.
Which, obviously, it is. And has been from the start. They endorsed Hillary. They covered her relentlessly, either ignoring Sanders or attacking him, depending on the day. And the one time they wrote a piece about his legislative accomplishments, editors came in after the fact and managed to turn it into a hit piece. Which is not a shock, when you consider the deep ties between the paper and Clinton herself. The game was rigged from the start, and at this point it’s almost fun to see how they’ll pretend to be objective as they serve as her loyal state media.
In the end, it’s probably best to let one of the story’s comments tell the real story—and marvel at the fact that the Times continues to allow comments at all:
Seriously? After months of readers’ comments begging the Times for less-biased coverage in regards to candidates Clinton and Sanders, this is what you come up with? Yet another thinly-veiled article explaining that Sanders is basically a flawed candidate who is destined to lose. For shame.
The tactics change, the result remains the same…