December 11, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Why the Bernie Blackout on Corporate Network News?

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders has made big gains in Iowa, leads most New Hampshire polls and fares better than Hillary Clinton in general election matchups against Donald Trump and other Republican White House hopefuls.

But the insurgent campaign that has drawn the biggest crowds on the presidential campaign trail has been all but ignored on the flagship television network newscasts, according to Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news coverage by NBC, CBS and ABC.

“The corporately-owned may not like Bernie’s anti-establishment views but for the sake of American democracy they must allow for a fair debate in this presidential campaign,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. “Bernie must receive the same level of coverage on the nightly news as other leading candidates."

ABC’s “World News Tonight” has devoted 81 minutes to Donald Trump's campaign so far this year compared to a mere 20 seconds on Sanders through the end of November. NBC’s “Nightly News” afforded 2.9 minutes of coverage to Sanders since January. The “CBS Evening News” provided viewers 6.4 minutes of coverage on the Vermont senator.

“The network newscasts are wildly overplaying Trump, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support, while at the same time wildly underplaying Sanders, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support,” according to a report Friday by the journalism watchdog group Media Matters for America analyzing the Tyndall report data.

Media Matters called the lack of coverage of Sanders a “rather stunning revelation.”

Writing for The Washington Post, media analyst Callum Borchers also looked at network news coverage. "If you’re not winning, saying outrageous things, or embroiled in an email scandal, it can be difficult to garner the attention,” he wrote.