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The Bernie Effect: Taking down mainstream media for a new generation of liberals

By Sean Francis Han

6 March, or Super Saturday if you’re following the U.S presidential primaries, was the second major date in the race after primary season kicked off on Super Tuesday.

In the wake of Super Saturday Sanders had fought new life back into his campaign, after Clinton clinched an early lead on Super Tuesday, by winning 3 out of 4 states. But as the two presidential hopefuls were winding down from the fracas of caucuses, primary elections, and debates, another group of individuals went into overdrive - the mainstream media.

Within 16 hours after the conclusion of Super Saturday, The Washington Post launched an impressive 16 opinion pieces against Bernie Sanders.

 

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This wasn't just a single site shedding its non-partisan values to come out against a presidential candidate, the same anti-Bernie sentiment was and had been consistent throughout the American mainstream media. NBC, The New York Times, even The Atlantic, were running opinion pieces against Sanders with remarkable efficiency after every major milestone in the Primary race (note that these are all considered “liberal media” as well).

Mere hours after the Democratic Debate in Flint NBC declared Clinton the winner. In South Carolina’s debate CNN linked Sanders to the infamous Donald Trump, commenting “Their tones match a moment of anger within the electorate”. And within the break time between major Primary events, Huffington Post Politics figured out that you can still run pieces like “Bernie Sanders Will Not be the Democratic Nominee, No Matter What Happens in the Primaries” for good measure.

Contrary to the American mainstream media’s opinion, the internet seemed to have concluded that Sanders won both debates.

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According to Google Sanders was the most talked about politician during the Democratic debate, beating Clinton and Trump by a landslide. And while that doesn't exactly translate to support for Sanders, Twitter indicated that Sanders gained the most Twitter followers following the debate.

Another disconnect from the American mainstream media comes from the country’s alternative media sites. While mainstream media was pumping out opinion pieces to discredit Bernie, alternative news sites were standing up for him. The Young Turks, Vox, and Now This, were in huge support for Bernie pulling in polls, stats, and charts, to highlight to their audiences that Bernie is a candidate not to be so easily dismissed.

But the problematic thing about the mainstream media outlets is that it simply doesn't represent the views of both the netizens and citizens of America. Sanders’ strong showing on the internet is not something to scoff at, because it makes up a sizeable chunk of America’s electorate.

But what about offline Americans? According to Quinnipiac University, Sanders has the highest favourability polls among politicians from either the Democratic or Republican parties, leading the way by being the only politician in the race with more respondents citing a favourable opinion over an unfavourable one.

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And even if we take a poll from Huffington Post Politics, which has been fairly against Bernie, we see Bernie about 7 points away from Hillary. Sanders is still losing, but by a margin that simply isn't congruent to the American mainstream media’s outright dismissal of him .

This is where the youth of the population come in; our future electorate. By greater and greater numbers, younger generations are forgoing traditional and mainstream media sources in favour of online and alternative news sites. In the last half decade we’ve seen a whole host of alternative news sites like AJ+, Vox, OZY, Politico, and many others.

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It’s inevitable that generations coming after 90’s will notice the frequent differences between the mainstream media (whether American or not) which bear a responsibility to the state or their corporate owners, and alternative media sites which have a responsibility to reflect the views of their online audience. And because Bernie Sanders is taking the internet so much by storm, and rousing the mainstream media into such an aggressive counter-rally, the youth of the world are either consciously or subconsciously going to notice that sometimes the biggest media players aren't always the most honest.