Media Mayhem

April 6th, 2016

Another day, another column decrying, another political trend of which I’ve grown tired.


This time, it’s the public insisting that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders does not receive a fair amount of media coverage as compared to the other candidates. Sanders himself has criticized the media for failing to adequately cover his campaign.


Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told CNN in January, “Clearly, we were not getting coverage that was commensurate with our support among the electorate.” In the same month, Sanders asked his supporters to sign a petition demanding increased airtime for Sanders’ campaign after evening news broadcasts spent exponentially more time covering Donald Trump than Sanders.


I’m not disagreeing that there is or was a disproportionate amount of evening news coverage between Donald Trump and Sanders. However, I’m inclined to disagree with the blanket conclusion Sanders and many of his supporters have come to, that the media as a whole is not giving him enough coverage.


I recently came across an Op/Ed about criticisms of Sanders’ choice to run as a Democrat rather than an Independent. In a town hall in Columbus, Ohio several weeks ago, Sanders said he did so because he knew, as an Independent, he would never get any media coverage, and, in correlation, would receive very little fundraising for his campaign. The public didn’t seem to favor this answer, but I have no problem with it; it’s honest and realistic.


That said, I do find some irony in the response. So far in this race, Sanders has raised the second highest amount of money, totaling to just under $140 million as of March 21, according to The Washington Post. Clinton is the only candidate to outdo him, having raised $160 million; all Republican candidates have raised considerably less than Sanders has. So, while he has criticized the media for not covering him, Sanders also said he relied on the media to give him a spotlight so that he could fundraise. And he’s done so–phenomenally, especially when you consider that he doesn’t rely on a Super PAC.  But it feels like he’s having his cake and eating it too, in my opinion.


In terms of data regarding news reporting, I did a search on Factiva, which allows users to run a search of sources such as newspapers, magazines and television and radio broadcasts. In the past year, Bernie Sanders has had nearly 229,000 articles or broadcasts directly related to him. Yes, that’s far from Trump’s 471,000 articles and broadcasts and Clinton’s 327,000 articles and broadcasts. However, I am inclined to agree with the general consensus that Trump is subject to an intense amount of overcoverage, and, in Clinton’s defense, she’s been in the news for decades as it is, but more recently for her nonsense, overhyped “email scandal.” However, despite being a political unknown a year ago, Sanders’ coverage is fairly close to that of Ted Cruz, who has had 234,000 articles and broadcasts related to him in the past year.


Let’s narrow that down a bit. In the last three months alone, Sanders has had 192,000 broadcasts and articles published about his campaign. Again, Trump and Clinton have an increasingly higher amount, but Sanders’ coverage is still in line with that of Ted Cruz; he has had 199,000 articles and broadcasts published about him.


Did you notice I left someone out?


Let’s talk about John Kasich. For the record, I’m not a fan; I did not vote for him in the last gubernatorial election and I don’t want to see him occupy the Oval Office. That said, if my choices are him, Trump or Cruz, Kasich’s the least toxic.


In the last year, only 111,000 articles and broadcasts have directly pertained to Kasich–that’s still less than the amount of articles and broadcasts published about Sanders in the last three months alone! And, in three months, Kasich has only seen 95,000 articles and broadcasts directly related to his campaign.


If there’s a victim in this media circus, it’s Kasich. Although many Republicans and Moderates despise the likes of Trump and Cruz, they’re unable to see Kasich as an alternative–probably because many of them aren’t seeing him at all.