Media criticism
February 19, 2020

The Bernie Sanders campaign and the Vermont senator's supporters are fed up with MSNBC, after what they perceive as months of "slights from MSNBC's stable of hosts and commentators," Tom Kludt writes at Vanity Fair. Sanders and his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, requested a meeting with MSNBC president Phil Griffin last fall to see if the liberal cable news network would "change the tone and the tenor of the coverage that we receive," Shakir told Vanity Fair. "They've been among the last to acknowledge that Bernie Sanders' path to the nomination is real, and even when it's become real, they frequently discount it."

Things haven't improved since then, as far as Team Sanders is concerned, and "the constant diminishment of Bernie Sanders on MSNBC" is "actively damaging" the Sanders campaign and "hurts his case for electability," Shakir told Vanity Fair. CNN is at least making "efforts to try and diversify their voices" with pro-Sanders hires, he added, and even Fox News has been "more fair than MSNBC" to Sanders. "That's saying something," Shakir added. "Fox is often yelling about Bernie Sanders' socialism, but they're still giving our campaign the opportunity to make our case in a fair manner, unlike MSNBC, which has credibility with the left and is constantly undermining the Bernie Sanders campaign."

The Atlantic's Christopher Orr agreed with Shakir that it's "saying something," but maybe not in the way Shakir intended. "'Network that desperately wants Trump re-elected gives favorable coverage to Sanders,' says Sanders campaign manager, without a whiff of irony," he tweeted, paraphrasing Shakir's comments, probably a little unfairly. MSNBC, for its part, has previously shrugged off the criticism from Team Sanders as attempts to work the ref. "A presidential campaign complaining about tough questions and commentary speaks for itself," an MSNBC spokesperson told The Daily Beast last July. You can read more about the Sanders-MSNBC tensions at Vanity Fair. Peter Weber

October 4, 2016

Donald Trump says so many things "that cry out for follow-ups, second or third questions that demand more information," CNN media critic Brian Stelter said in a Reliable Sources segment on Sunday. Trump doesn't get many, and before pointing the finger at any one cable news network, Stelter gave some examples of "how not to interview Donald Trump." If all the examples were from a certain CNN competitor, Stelter says, that's because "for the most part, Trump has cloistered himself on Fox News, on specific pro-Trump shows." And it's true: CNN counted.

Non-Fox News journalists want answers from Trump, and if Trumps continues to only talk with Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Fox & Friends, "lets hope that these Fox interviewers step up the follow-up game," Stelter said. "After all — these Fox hosts don't work for Trump, they work for you, and me, for the viewers at home. And the viewers deserve answers." You can watch his argument below. Peter Weber

August 8, 2016

On Sunday, CNN media critic Brian Stelter scolded Fox News pundits for giving Donald Trump a pass when he warned, without evidence or follow-up questions, that the 2016 election will be "rigged." Raging against a "rigged system" worked well for Trump in the Republican primaries, Stelter noted, and his crowds love his invectives against the "rigged" media. But warning that the election will be rigged is "a really troubling first for a presidential candidate," he said, and the media — especially the conservative media — abdicates its duty when it lets a candidate get away with saying something so "dangerous, and this is dangerous." "Suggesting an election is going to be stolen?" Stelter asked. "This is third world dictatorship stuff."

Stelter says that The Washington Post and The New York Times both ran informative articles contextualizing and fact-checking Trump's unsubstantiated claim, but Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity "both failed their audiences this week," especially Hannity. "Hannity is not a journalist," he said, but "he has a megaphone and he's using his megaphone irresponsibly." Hannity is even sowing his own doubts about the election, pointing to dozens of districts in Philadelphia and Ohio where Mitt Romney got zero votes in 2012, Stelter said, but "a Google search would show that there are also precincts in other states like in Utah, where Obama did not get a single vote." Trump is "trying to delegitimize our democratic process without proof," he concluded. "It is unpatriotic for any interviewer or any journalist to help him."

Sean Hannity did not take the critique kindly:

So Hannity obviously pays attention to his Twitter account, but it seems he did not actually watch the video. Peter Weber

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