Bernie Is Right to Go After Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post – Jacobin magazine

Bernie Is Right to Go After Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post – Jacobin magazine

Jeff Bezos
If you’ve paid attention to the news in the last few days, you’ve probably heard about Bernie Sanders’s dangerous, scurrilous attack on the US media.“Do you know how much Amazon paid in income taxes last year?” Sanders asked a crowd, prompting cries of “Zero!”“I talk about it all of the time, ” he continued, “and then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me.”The line instantly elicited a hurricane of denunciations from both the media and prominent Democrats.
Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron dismissed it as a “conspiracy theory, ” and various of the paper’s reporters chimed in to this effect, with one charging that Sanders “sounds a lot like Donald Trump.” MSNBC’s Brian Williams called it a “Trump talking point, ” while Meet the Press (more specifically, its Twitter account) labeled it an attack on the free press, after assembling a panel to rubbish the remarks. One of the participants included the Center for American Progress’s Neera Tanden, who said that, at a time when Trump is attacking the press, lines like Sanders’s give Democrats a queasy stomach.There are several layers of absurdity here. ....



Last year, a standoff developed between the newsrooms and upper management in the newspaper empire of Digital First Media, or DFM, which had been bought by a hedge fund in 2010 that was now ransacking its own newspapers for profit. Editors and reporters were gagged and forbidden from writing critically about what was happening to their own paper, sometimes due to explicit directives from DFM executives, but in some cases simply because editors and publishers preemptively put a stop to such stories to avoid any potential reprisal.That’s the other thing. As others have pointed out, the idea that corporate censorship solely, or even mostly, takes the form of someone at the top sending a memo or making a phone call — and, make no mistake, that certainly does happen — has never been the left-wing critique of a corporate press. As figures like George Seldes and Noam Chomsky have explained, from our earliest days, we are enveloped by an architecture of beliefs and assumptions that tells us what we should and shouldn’t think, from popular culture to the educational system to the news.After that, a ruthless process of self-selection means anyone deviating from that line isn’t seen or heard from. ....

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