Conspiracy

Media Notices Bernie's Nonsense Conspiracies When They're About Media

The progressive senator's Trumpian anti-Bezos take is part of career-long history of fantasizing about evil billionaires.

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On Monday, because it was a day ending in "y," presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) made a conspiratorial insinuation about a billionaire. Reiterating his standard stump-speech complaint that Amazon does not pay federal corporate income taxes (which is both true and incomplete—the company paid more than $1 billion in non-federal income taxes in 2018, and got to its federal zero by making the kinds of domestic investments that Congress deliberately incentivizes), the democratic socialist then appended a just-asking-questions brain-teaser.

"I talk about that all of the time," Sanders noted. "And then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why."

Because this sophomoric shade was thrown at a prestigious media outfit rather than a politically reviled industrialist, America's journalistic outrage-machine cranked up into high gear.

"Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor," Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in a statement Monday night, "Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest." Outlets from NPR to the Poynter Institute to GeekWire noted that the senator's crack sounded "like Trump." The lead item in today's CNN Reliable Sources newsletter was "Dems take aim at media."

That clamor was in sharp contrast to the media crickets two months ago when Sanders tweeted out this equally conspiratorial garbage:

A Nexis search of this equally fantastical claim brings up exactly one passing reference.

Bernie's half-century political career, consistent with the progressive economic tradition he now personifies, has been one long warning against a star chamber-like cabal that seemingly controls everything except political representation in the Green Mountain State. "There is a handful of people sitting at the head of the main banks controlling the destiny of underprivileged nations, the country as well as Vermont's economy," he warned, nonsensically, in 1976. "The real issue," he said in a presidential debate four decades later, "is that Congress is owned by big money."

Harmless hyperbole, you say? Hardly. Consider that while the Veterans Administration health care system was breaking down all around him in 2014, Sanders, then chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, was affixing his ire on an alleged "concerted effort to undermine the V.A.," led by "the Koch brothers and others." As The New York Times would later recount, "Despite mounting evidence of trouble at the Department of Veterans Affairs, [Sanders]…initially regarded the complaints as overblown, and as a play by conservatives to weaken one of the country's largest social welfare institutions."

What about his oft-repeated claim that a Koch-backed group was attempting to "privatize" the V.A.? "Three Pinocchios," declared The Washington Post's fact-checker.

Charles and David Koch, the latter of whom used to sit on the Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees, are Bernie's favored target for unhinged speculation. "Open borders?" he famously said in a 2015 Vox interview. "No, that's a Koch brothers proposal."

Huh, so you'd think that dastardly duo might not be so fond of our restrictionist president? Nah! "Let us be clear," Sanders said last year. "You have the Koch brothers…having enormous power over the Trump administration." On his Senate website, he asserts that, "It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party," which he then demonstrates by…quoting at length from the 1980 Libertarian Party platform?

Anti-corporate animus is so central to Bernie's worldview that even a statement made yesterday to distance himself from President Donald Trump's anti-media populism contained the same dystopian media-domination fantasies that the progressive left has been peddling for decades.

"We've got to be careful," Sanders replied to a questioner complaining about the media. "We have an authoritarian-type president right now who does not believe in our Constitution, who is trying to intimidate the media and so forth, and that's not what we do…But I think what we have to be concerned about in terms of media is that you have a small number of very, very large corporate interests who control a lot of what the people in this country see, hear and read. They have their agenda. That's what they want."

And concern over the "agenda" of those "very, very large corporate interests" has taken Sanders to some policy places that would seem to be at odds for his declared reverence to the Constitution. The senator's first-ever proposed constitutional amendment was a reversal of Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Supreme Court overturned on First Amendment grounds a federal prohibition on corporate entities' ability to broadcast political documentaries before an election.

In April last year, Sanders joined a group of senators asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate the "news activities" of the conservative local-TV conglomerate Sinclair Broadcast Group "to determine if it conforms to the public interest," and if that determination was negative, terminate the company's licenses. (The FCC wisely declined the invitation.)

Conspiratorial thinking, as Reason Books Editor Jesse Walker has continually reminded us, is the exclusive domain of neither the progressive left nor the authoritarian right. But there are some repeated tendencies in both camps. It would be nice if journalism outfits noticed that more often when their cherished colleagues are not the target.

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  1. I talk about that all of the time,” Sanders noted. “And then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.”

    You mean the owner of a newspaper might influence its coverage? Journalists are so loathsome they make Sanders seem reasonable. He is exactly right.

    1. In fairness, though, it is near impossible to write an honest article that is also positive about Sanders.

      1. I was in Montpelier last month. Boy does the coffee shop where I stopped for an espresso love him.

        It was as nauseating as them serving the espresso in a cappuccino mug.

        Philistines.

        1. This guy wants a mug for every different type of beverage! He must be in the pocket of Big Vessel.

          For that matter, no one needs 23 choices of coffee, 18 choices of scone, when kids are going hungry.

          1. Oh, I bet he gets a lot of his campaign contributions from the (((flagons))). Wake up, sheeple!!

    2. You throw around conspiracy theories like gay confetti.

      Journalists are not loathsome just because they tell the truth about the politicians whose legs you hump.

      1. You don’t think Bezos’s political beliefs influence wapo?

        1. As far as I know, they run like a normal newspaper and have for a long time.

          If Bezos did direct its editorial content, what’s it to you? Is it a free country or isn’t it?

          You people are so fucking goddamn bad at this freedom shit.

          1. “If Bezos did direct its editorial content, what’s it to you? Is it a free country or isn’t it?

            You people are so fucking goddamn bad at this freedom shit.”

            I believe he should be allowed to. Not sure when I said he shouldn’t. I also think I should be allowed to continue to point out that you are a judgmental bigot, that doesn’t understand what a question is.

            1. The way I see it, Bezos bought WaPo because he agreed with it’s political slant and influence.

            2. I don’t know for sure that he doesn’t pressure his editorial writers to reflect his views, but I seriously doubt it. It’s just not how newspapers, especially prestigious ones, work. I’m telling you, it may sound quaint that journalists have ethics they are very interested in preserving, but that’s only because you’ve been made cynical by an anti-truth campaign by outfits that pretend to be journalism.

              1. Oh Tony. The reality is much worse than the owner of a newspaper dictating what its reporters write. It’s worse than the owner of the newspaper hiring people who will write what he likes and not hiring those who won’t. It’s worse than him taking a hands off approach until someone REALLY pisses him off, at which point he launches them over the wall with a cannon and releases the hounds, then posts their head on a pike at the entrance to the building as a warning to others.

                The problem is that nearly everyone under 40 years old with a degree relevant to journalism was educated in a department that was 80% left of center, 20% of whom are full on marxist, and the remaining 20% just duck and cover until graduation.

          2. You keep arguing with one person, while speaking to different people. I actually hope you’re a bigot, cuz otherwise you’re crazy as fuck.

          3. Shorter Tony: he doesn’t, because that would be wrong, and his journalists would say so. But it wouldn’t be wrong.

            1. Prove it. Then explain why it’s bad. But prove it first.

              Doesn’t Occam’s Razor suggest that Trump actually is a big fat orange corrupt idiot?

              1. “Doesn’t Occam’s Razor suggest that Trump actually is a big fat orange corrupt idiot?”

                No, but your posts prove you to be a fucking lefty ignoramus who is either constantly drunk, or should claim to be.

  2. Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor,” Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in a statement Monday night, “Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.” Outlets from NPR to the Poynter Institute to GeekWire noted that the senator’s crack sounded “like Trump.” The lead item in today’s CNN Reliable Sources newsletter was “Dems take aim at media.”

    So the Post denies that the guy who signs their paychecks has any influence over how they do their jobs. Well, that settles that.

    Wow. Just Wow.

    1. Yeah, I definitely agree. I think this myth of “unbiased news” needs to be put to rest ASAP. It cannot exist. Anyone interested (monetarily or otherwise) enough to spend time and effort reporting on current events is going to have biases. Best to acknowledge that and critically examine all claims.

    2. Journalists are living Angel’s who are perfect examples or morality. How dare you question. These exemplary people sir. That’s why they are given writers more than us unwashed heathens. Good day sir. I said good day.

    3. You not knowing how newspapers work is nobody’s fault but your own.

      If the reporters at one of the world’s major newspapers were being told to present a bias from the corporate owner, they would all shit themselves in outrage and protest it on the editorial page of their newspaper.

      Not every news outlet acts like FOX News. Unlike them, they’re not there to stroke your balls.

      1. So do they run based on their owners beliefs, which is wrong, but ok, or not?

        1. A proper newspaper has a corporate owner, a news reporting section, and an editorial section. We “separate church and state” in the business. (Well, I used to be in the business.) It’s de rigueur for editorial sections to have total freedom of expression. Just like on FOX News.

          You should probably consult the news section if you’re looking for facts.

      2. Tony,
        YOu’re full of shit. And I mean completely full of shit on this point.

        1. Whatever bias may be out there, 90% of the bias is for rightwing viewpoints. What you call extreme leftism is, here on planet earth, either the process of the recitation of facts called journalism, or a political viewpoint that would be considered center-right in any other civilized country.

          Mote, log. There are radicals in this country. They do have propaganda. It’s not fucking Democrats!

          1. Tony
            August.14.2019 at 3:37 am
            “Whatever bias may be out there, 90% of the bias is for rightwing viewpoints.”

            And you expect to be taken seriously?
            Fuck off.

      3. And of course they would never just quietly be fired or have their articles cut for “space”, because corporate bosses are paragons of virtue with nothing but respect for their underlings, right?

  3. And then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me.

    Sad!

    1. I wish WaPo had responded with an article about this speech where they criticized Trump for his conspiratorial comments and suggestions that their coverage was being dictated by Bezos in response to the criticism.

      And then published a tongue-in-cheek correction where they noted that Sanders was incorrectly identified as Trump.

  4. This is the worst kind of discrimination, the kind against me!
    -Bender

  5. +1 Robonukah. The holiest two weeks on the robot calendar.

  6. In a sane world, this lunatic would be living in a dumpster somewhere, making speeches to the alley cats, who also think he’s an idiot.

    1. Other people (some people call them your “owners” but no one should have the right to “own” a cat) should be feeding you! Those fat uncats are living high on the hog, probably eating tuna right now!

  7. Red Flag!

  8. “The real issue,” he said in a presidential debate four decades later, “is that Congress is owned by big money.”

    Are you claiming they’re not?

    1. Said the guy with three houses.

    2. “The real issue,” he said in a presidential debate four decades later, “is that Congress is owned by big money.”

      As long as Congress has the staggering dictatorial powers it has, I’d rather have it owned by big money than by the mob Sanders commands. Big money at least has some interest and expertise in the continuing function of the US economy; Sanders would simply destroy to pay off his constituents.

      1. Plus, there is the undeniably positive fact that Congress is highly motivated to do as much NOTHING as possible. Seriously, their vast power is only exceeded by their determination to never actually solve any problem that can be addressed by passing out more patronage in a new department, agency or bureau.

        If you’re in Congress, and do something, people might not like it. That way lieth the path to becoming one of the non-elected. Whereas if you are unable to do ANYTHING, there are lots of directions to point blame. The ridiculous re-election rate of incumbents proves this is an effective approach to staying in office, if not to actually governing effectively.

    3. No Congress isn’t “owned by big business”. Quite the contrary, politicians control businesses via legislation, regulations, and the permit process, and can pick winners and losers in commerce by getting permits approved/denied or changing the regulations/laws to favor some firm at the expense of others.

      That’s why rich rent-seeking corporatists give politicians a lot of money: if they get those favors it was worth it, and they ensure their profits by making politicians partners via their ongoing (it won’t be ongoing if they don’t get those favors, so those favors are delivered usually to the highest bidder) contributions.

      Both the Democrats and RINOs play the game. It’s just a small subset (perhaps 20%) of the GOP that is against the game. And Trump is as well, especially after giving Hillary a lot of money and only getting the booby prize of her showing up at his wedding. I believe Trump sees the game as a businessman who has to pay off the politicians so they don’t destroy his business, and doesn’t like it.

  9. Conspiratorial thinking, as Reason Books Editor Jesse Walker has continually reminded us, is neither the exclusive domain of the progressive left nor of the authoritarn right.

    While some of the other stuff he said is definitely conspiracy theorizing, saying things like “corporations heavily influence Congress,” “politicians are corrupt,” or “the media is biased” is not.

    *ps – turn on spell check

    1. … saying things like “corporations heavily influence Congress,” “politicians are corrupt,” or “the media is biased”

      I do not disagree with these particulars.

      Regarding your spell check comment, I agree, fully acknowledging that I as a commentator have made mistakes.

  10. Bernie Sanders isn’t my first choice, exhibit #937: “The Koch Brothers are preparing to try to buy the Democratic Party and buy the 2020 election. We cannot let them.”

    It’s obviously true the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming more Koch-friendly. That’s a good thing. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers (and Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg, and so on) should, if anything, have even more influence over American politics. They tend to be on the right side of history far more consistently than the rest of us.

    #BillionairesKnowBest

  11. My brain automatically transcribes all Bernie quotes into Crowder’s Gottfried voice.

  12. As soon as Bernie cuckoos himself off the stage, Warren is staged to be your next president. God bless this fine nation.

    1. Prepare to be disappointed.

      1. I know full well that Bernie won’t drop out until he’s wheeled out.

        1. And drooling commie drivel on the way out.

    2. Yeah, I remember this trick: you tell us someone like Hillary is definitely going to be president, and it turns out to be BS.

      I’m not falling for that again.

      1. Hillary is president.

        Trump is a sitcom we pipe in to the rednecks so they don’t go apeshit and shoot up the country.

        Stupid plan I guess. They were gonna do it anyway!

    3. Looking forward to openly corporatist economic policy, then?

    4. We stole this country from folks like her once, we’re not about to give it back!

  13. “…Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in a statement Monday night, “Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.””

    So Mr. Baron hasn’t read the Post in a while, apparently.

    1. The compost hasn’t gotten any worse, AFAIK. Where do you see a Bezos influence?

      1. All those times they report on the things the president does and says. And while Antifa runs amok!

        1. Fuck you bigot.

    2. They beclowned themselves during the Covington story.

      It took me a loooong time because I wanted to believe there was a shred of integrity left within the legacy papers.

      Yeah right. Now I read them with one eye open and with Earl Cammebert’s voice.

      1. Oh my god you people are still talking about that.

        1. Would the lies about Mike “The Gentle Giant” Brown in Ferguson, Mo. be more apropos?

          1. At least someone fucking died in that one.

            1. With that kind of thinking, you truly are a progressive.

              1. To be a true logical person I have to feel that a kid who got drummed at and smiled while it was happening was worse than the holocaust.

                I know FOX News junkies. You are all sick in the goddamn head.

      2. Over to you, Floyd…

  14. The progressive senator

    Bernie isn’t a progressive, he is a democratic socialist. He says so himself.

    1. But he does not have DSA card, comrade! Worry not. He will be Robespierred as soon as he is no longer useful.
      #ThisTimeSocialismWillWork

      1. “”We’ve got to be careful,” Sanders replied to a questioner complaining about the media. “We have an authoritarian-type president right now who does not believe in our Constitution…””

        As opposed to when Bernie ascends, and we have an authoritarian-type president who does not believe in our Constitution?

  15. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor,” Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in a statement Monday night, “Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

    Yeah, and Trump is a Putin asset! And the world is going to end because of climate change!

    Seriously folks, you’d think with your salaries and educations, you’d at least be able to make your lies a little less transparent.

  16. There is a saying: as the elderly age, they revert back into infants. This is just Bernie regressing back to his Terrible Twos.

  17. Bernie Bezos Story with credit to Welch for the idea:

    The politician mad scientist with the wild hair spouting conspiracy theories and who speaks highly of the USSR, seeks to investigate bald billionaire mastermind directing his puppet journolists against him. Journolists fill paper with reports of attacks on media and call attacks conspiracy theories. Mad politician partners with billionaire mastermdind, and promptly bankrupts the billionaire.

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  19. Meh. Most journalists seem like a room full of bitchy middle school girls each being dragged along by an over-active Labrador retriever–look, squirrel!!!

    1. The problem is they see themselves as the solemn, intellectual watchmen of society performing a vital function and then behave like bitchy schoolgirls.

  20. Susceptibility to conspiracy theories are an aspect of human nature, so yes, they show up on the left and the right. Socialism has a conspiracy by the wealthy baked into it as its raison d’etre and rationalization for its failures.

  21. Bernie would tell you that it’s all about the Jews … except that he is one. Just goes to show …

    1. Brave man then, no?

  22. I have a hard time deciding who is the biggest comedian is: Comrade Bernie, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Mad Maxine Waters, or Cummins.
    It probably doesn’t matter.
    They all provide great laughs to the sane.

  23. Jibberish to suggest that media owners don’t influence content. It was WaPo –along with the NYT, LAT, CT and most every single mainstream media “news agency” that 1) added the superdelegate tally to the pledged delegate total during the 2016 primary, giving the false and misleading, and undemocratic appearance that HRC had a huge lead over Sanders. When in fact he won 22 of the campaigns against the core party Queen and denied her the required number of pledged delegates necessary for the nomination before the convention. And 2) ran a false, misleading and undemocratic AP story the day before the CA primary stating that HRC had already wrapped up the nomination.

    There’s a reason why both (corrupt) parties have allowed media ownership to go from 50 companies in 1983 to just 6 now: when you own the messenger, you own the message.

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