Earlier today I saw an article featured prominently on the New York Times website called "Who Won the Debate? Hillary Clinton Is Given the Edge." The Times is of course referring to the debate that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had in Flint, Michigan last night.
I would have to say that this article is a prime example of what is sometimes called the "manufacturing of consent" by the American media.
Firstly, I have to admit that, having grown up in Vermont, I am a supporter of Sanders and therefore biased in his favor. But even if I was not, I would have to say that any reasonable or neutral person who saw the debate would clearly see that Sanders did not loose to Hillary Clinton.
In fact, on many important issues, Sanders either demolished or one-upped Clinton, which is clear in both the candidates' rhetoric. reactions from the audience, and post-debate polling data.
For instance, here are some polls taken from mainstream news sources :
The vast majority of respondents place Sanders as the clear winner. Although these are not very scientific polls, the poll results are so extreme as to put Sanders over the polls' usual margins of error.
So why is the New York Times telling us--the American people--the opposite? Is it because they favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders? The answer, sadly, is probably yes they do. Has this affected their coverage of the 2016 presidential race? Sadly, the answer is yes it has.
A quick look at this misleading article from the Times shows that it reads not like a news story at all, but more like a press release from Clinton's PR people.
Behold the second paragraph of the article:
"Commentators and pundits shared the opinion that there were no campaign-altering moments, though Mr. Sanders, who was on the attack throughout, occasionally seemed to lose his cool and stumbled a bit when discussing race. Mrs. Clinton managed to stay on her game and stirred excitement by taking some shots at Donald J. Trump. In the end, Democrats were most satisfied that their candidates mustered more decorum than the Republicans."
Does this sound like unbiased reporting to anyone? Why does the Times fail to mention anything right that Sanders said during the debate (especially Bernie's amazing response to the issue of "fracking" and the environmental damage it causes)? Instead, the Times tries to paint the senator as some angry loose cannon, a wild man from the Vermont wilderness.
The best is yet to come, however. Immediately under this absurd paragraph is a series of quotes from various pundits in the media:
“I think Hillary Clinton got the better of it tonight. Counterpunched better in key moments. Sanders better on God, fracking and closing statements.” — Dante Atkins, contributing editor to the liberal website Daily Kos
“Clinton came prepared to the CNN debate and more than held her own, preventing Sanders from the clear victory he needs to change the trajectory of the race ahead of Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.” — Alex Seitz-Wald, MSNBC political reporter
“Sanders had a mixed night. Excellent on the class stuff, very moving on what being Jewish meant to him. But a bit too testy at times.” — Jeet Heer, senior editor at The New Republic
"I mean, Bernie means well. But he hasn’t spent a lot of time talking with or to or about black people in about 40 years.” — Joel Anderson, BuzzFeed News reporter"
The Times is clearly cherry-picking quotes to bolster their bogus argument that Clinton won the debate. They offer only one quote (from a conservative publication no less), out of a total of nine, that seems to support Sanders:
“Bernie was just better at seeming like a human being. That’s one of Hillary’s biggest weaknesses.” — Caleb Howe, writer for the conservative website RedState
Nowhere else does the Times offer quotes from media sources that saw Sanders in a positive light. Yet glancing at the polling data clearly shows that the public believes what the Times, and other mainstream outlets, seemingly do not.
Well before running for president, Sanders (and many other Americans) pointed out the hypocrisy and propaganda of the mainstream American media. Articles such as this Times hatchet-job only support such claims.
News outlets like the Times, and other mainstream publications, act with their own political agendas often and skew their coverage to favor those agendas. Fox News is merely an extreme example of this phenomenon in the mainstream press.
If I had to venture a guess as to why the Times is engaging in such blatant propaganda, I would suggest it is because they see themselves as protectors of a centrist political order (just like Hillary Clinton) and view Sanders as too radical--maybe even dangerous to the whole political status quo of this country.
They may also hold the cynical belief that America is a center-right country, and that if they do not tilt the Democratic nomination in favor of Clinton, then Trump may very well win the general election, ushering in an era of fascist government.
Whatever the Times' reasoning is, articles such as these do a disservice both to their readers as well as democracy in general--for the American people make their best decisions on their future when they are fully informed.
The Times has proven once again that they are often in the business of the manufacture of the public's consent, when in fact the public has not yet given that consent to Hillary Clinton.
But don't take my word for it. Form your own opinion by watching the Flint debate: