(Editor’s note: “Bernie Briefing” is a weekly campaign-season look at how Vermont U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is playing in the national media.)
The New York Times calls it “the paradox for reporters covering the Democratic presidential race.”
On one hand, there’s “Mr. Sanders’s dim view of the ‘corporate media,’ as he refers to it,” Times reporter Jason Horowitz notes in a recent story headlined “As News Media Changes, Bernie Sanders’s Critique Remains Constant.”
“Despite the advent of the Internet, the diminishing of traditional news media companies and the emergence of new media Goliaths like Facebook that have helped fuel his rise, Mr. Sanders remains orthodox in his mass media doctrine,” writes Horowitz, who quotes the candidate as saying: “The corporate media talks about all kinds of issues except the most important issues. OK?”
Then again, Sanders and his campaign staff are “far more accessible” than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “whose wariness of the news media, after decades in the center of the public eye, is well established,” the Times reporter continues. “Mr. Sanders often speaks with reporters on the phone or on his campaign plane. He has become a Sunday morning show regular.”
This weekend, for example, Sanders appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” and NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he aimed to pivot from Saturday’s loss in South Carolina in an attempt to win Super Tuesday voters in March 1 contests in Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
“We got decimated,” Sanders said on NBC. “But I’m in Minnesota now. We’re looking to the future, not looking back.”
“The important point is that people throughout this country are resonating to our message,” he added on CBS. “We have dozens of more states to go.”
In other news:
— Sanders’ campaign, seeking to reach past traditional media sources, “just put money behind one of the buzziest forms of online advertising: sponsored content,” Ad Age reports in a story headlined “Bernie Sanders Campaign Buys ‘Sponsored Story’ Ad on Politico.”
The 1,200-word opinion piece, titled “We must end for-profit prisons” and bylined “By Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for President, U.S. Senator from Vermont,” was published last week with a disclaimer explaining, “The above column is sponsor-generated content from and paid for by Bernie 2016.”
A Politico spokesperson told Ad Age the post is the “first campaign-sponsored content” ever on the site, but “we hope and expect others will follow — this is part of a larger trend that we see political campaigns and disruptive consumer brands adopting.”
— In Politico’s less-promotional staff-written story “Bernie’s Spring Break Blues,” reporter Darren Samuelsohn notes the coming primary and caucus schedule won’t help Sanders, who’s polling strong with young and first-time voters.
“The Democratic race is about to enter a four-week stretch where more than half of the party’s delegates will be awarded,” Samuelsohn writes. “But as the voting gets under way, one campus after another is closing down for weeklong breaks. In all, more than half a million college students from 14 states will be on spring break at the same time that the presidential campaign train chugs onto their campuses.”
— And finally, in his story “How Bernie Sanders Hopes to Get His Groove Back,” MSNBC reporter Alex Seitz-Wald quotes the candidate: “What this is about is a slog, if I may use that word, state by state by state. So for the media, please do not come to me state by state and ask, ‘Is this the end of the world?’”
“Democrats award delegates proportional to the vote total,” Seitz-Wald notes, “so they often end up splitting delegates roughly evenly. That means Sanders can collect plenty of delegates in states he probably can’t win, like South Carolina, or delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like Texas and Virginia.”
Yet the same MSNBC reporter, in another story headlined “A Very Good Super Tuesday For Bernie Sanders May Not Be Good Enough,” adds that although the candidate could finish this week winning more states than Clinton, she could draw more delegates.
“Sanders is strong in small states, while Clinton is stronger in bigger states,” Seitz-Wald writes. “Sanders’ targeted Super Tuesday states have a combined 288 delegates. Clinton’s six have 571.”
That said, Tad Devine, Sanders’ top strategist, isn’t counting his candidate out.
“To win states against Hillary Clinton, when there’s this second wave of, ‘It’s all over, Hillary’s won,’ that in itself is impressive,” he told MSNBC. “We haven’t gotten near our potential yet with Democratic primary voters. But she’s got no place to go but down.”