WATCH: Bernie Sanders Was Asked About Income Inequality Despite His Claim ‘Not One Reporter’ Ever Asked
Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders defended his media criticism, in part, by claiming that “not one reporter has ever asked” him about income inequality, but it turns out that isn’t true.
On Tuesday, Sanders backed off of his conspiracy-adjacent critique of The Washington Post slightly, telling CNN “Do I think Jeff Bezos is on the phone, telling the editor of The Washington Post what to do? Absolutely not. It doesn’t work that way.”
But then he went on to claim “Not one reporter has ever asked me, ‘Bernie, what are you going to do about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality?’ Are you gonna ask me that? Is that part of what media talks about?”
As The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake quickly discovered (not on orders from Jeff Bezos, as far as we know), that’s not the case. Blake lists four examples that he came up with using a Lexis Nexis search:
CBS’s John Dickerson on to July 12, 2015: “A lot of the issues you have mentioned both on wages and income inequality are going to be the topic of a speech by Hillary Clinton … on Monday. How do you distinguish yourself from her for Democratic voters out there?”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Oct. 14, 2015: “Senator Sanders, let’s talk about income inequality. Wages and incomes are flat. You’ve argued that the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We’ve had a Democratic president for seven years. What are you going to be able to do that President Obama didn’t?”
MSNBC’s Al Sharpton on March 15, 2016: “What do you say to black and Latino voters who you need to support you in November if you`re the nominee … What do you say will be their particular way of dealing with racial inequality in the fight about income inequality?”
And CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did a lengthy interview with Sanders on May 19, 2015, the first one-third of which was devoted to his views on income inequality
Blake also notes that there are likely others that weren’t included in his search for whatever reason. Searching TV transcripts is an inexact science, but we were quickly able to find a 2015 clip of then-Bloomberg host John Heilemann asking Sanders about the topic.
In Sanders’ defense, though, all of these examples are from the last presidential campaign, not the current one. Sanders’ claim is certainly false in a technical, here-are-five-examples sense, but it’s not like he’s asked about it all the time. Blake argues that this is a function of Sanders having spoken about it so frequently, reducing the utility of the question.
On the other hand, reporters find a way to ask questions that they care about no matter how many times they get the same set of answers. Search “Hillary Clinton emails” if you don’t believe me.
Nonetheless, Sanders has managed to keep the message front and center in remarks that have been covered by every cable news network, including Fox News. For example, they all covered Sanders’ speech at a Walmart shareholders’ meeting in June, where he railed against “the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America, as demonstrated by the CEO of Walmart making 1,000 times more than the average Walmart employee.”
So while Sanders isn’t being completely muzzled by the “corporate media,” it’s fair to say that income inequality isn’t exactly a sexy issue to them.
Watch the clips above via CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, and Bloomberg.
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