Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron fired back at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for suggesting the newspaper’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, influences its coverage of the Democratic presidential hopeful.
Sanders implied during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday that the Post publishes negative stories about him because he has criticized Amazon’s labor practices and tax history.
“Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?” he asked the crowd at his town hall in Wolfeboro. “See, I talk about that all of the time. And then I wonder why The Washington Post ... doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection.”
He repeated the claim, again citing no evidence, at a separate town hall in New Hampshire later Monday. He also said The New York Times’ coverage of him is “not much better.”
Baron rejected Sanders’ claim about Bezos’ influence, dubbing it a “conspiracy theory.”
“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians ― of every ideology ― who complain about their coverage,” Baron said in a statement. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”
A representative for the Times did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Sanders has long accused the “corporate media” of being biased in its coverage of his presidential campaign. Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders’ campaign, suggested Monday in a call with reporters that coverage of his polling numbers has been unfair.
“There seems to be a direct correlation between media coverage of polls and Bernie’s specific standing in those polls,” Weaver said. “The better the number is in the poll, the less coverage it receives. And the worse he does, the more it receives.”
Last month, Sanders’ campaign launched “The 99,” a show livestreamed on his YouTube channel to discuss “the issues the mainstream media too often overlooks.”
“While we appreciate our friends in the elite media, they don’t often cover the issues that truly matter to working Americans,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, told The Associated Press.
Sanders repeatedly claimed during his 2016 presidential campaign that the media treated him unfairly.
A Harvard study published in June 2016 found the media’s focus on the Republican side of the race hurt Sanders’ ability to gain traction against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Five Republican candidates ― Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson — got more coverage than Sanders in 2015, and Clinton received three times more press than he did, according to the study.
But the study also found that the coverage Sanders did receive was largely positive.
The Vermont senator has defended the media against some of Trump’s most aggressive attacks such as describing the press as the “enemy of the people.” But the senator’s comments Monday echoed the president’s false claim that the Post is essentially a lobbying arm for Amazon.
“A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post!” the president tweeted in June. “They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse?”