On February 23rd, 2016, a journalist for Russia Today published an article titled “Bernie Sanders ‘censored’ by MSNBC while criticizing trade deal.” RT’s article focused on the topic of corporate censorship concerning both Senator Sanders’ campaign and that of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The topic of corporate censorship of Senator Sander’s campaign and the TPP is significant because it exposes the threat that corporations and related news outlets pose to democracy.
Russia Today’s article focused on the topic of Bernie Sanders’ “censorship” by the news outlet MSNBC regarding his campaign along with the criticism of the Trans Pacific Partnership: a proposed multinational trade agreement between twelve Pacific nations. During a speech, the presidential candidate was led away from his condemnation of the TPP for its negative impacts on the American people and its incorporation of slave labor. Mid broadcast MSNBC stopped streaming Sanders just as he began to discredit the TPP. The article then reveals connections between MSNBC and its affiliation with the TPP and the greater implications of the censorship.
The topic of deliberate censorship of political positions is significant because it is indicative of an inherent problem with corporate news. At first glance, it seems strange that a left wing news network would take steps to undercut a left wing candidate but upon close inspection it becomes clear where their loyalties truly lie. MSNBC’s parent company, Comcast, has spent thousands of dollars lobbying politicians in favor of the TPP. Sanders was cutoff due to the fact that Comcast did not want to air negative remarks concerning a trade deal that benefits their corporation. MSNBC’s censorship of the TPP is long running; MSNBC has only covered the TPP twice, with the exception of Ed Schultz, who was later fired for ‘unrelated reasons.’ They are not alone, there has been no coverage whatsoever of the TPP by ABC, NBC, and CBS “despite the TPP’s severe implications on both the U.S. economy and global human trafficking.” The threat posed by media censorship is dangerous for the survival of democracy as corporations actively strive to disinform the people.
The corporate news coverage of “Bernie Sander’s ‘censored” by MSNBC while criticizing trade deal” has been scant. As corporate news outlets have collectively censored any discussion of the TPP as a whole, it was anticipated that none would report on this incident. The same day, the Washington Post mentioned in an article that Sanders does not support the TPP but failed to neither elaborate on his reasoning nor cover his censorship. The story has been primarily covered by independent news groups such as The Intercept and Info Wars; however, their coverage was sparse and drew mostly from the report by RT and Media Matters.
Sanders was censored for speaking out against the TPP and its impacts. This story was not covered by any corporate media and the TPP itself has been backed by these media groups. This deliberate under-coverage and censorship is indicative of the dangers corporate media pose. If ignored, the actions of corporations and their new outlets are a threat to the democratic process and to democracy itself.
“Bernie Sanders ‘censored’ by MSNBC While Criticizing Trade Deal.” Russia Today, 23 Feb. 2016, https://www.rt.com/usa/333379-msnbc-censored-sanders-tpp/.
Harrington, Craig, and Brian Powell. “STUDY: TV News Shows Largely Ignore Historic Trade Negotiations.” Media Matters, 04 Feb. 2015, http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/04/study-tv-news-shows-largely-ignore-historic-tra/202403.
Jalani, Zaid. “MSNBC Cuts Away From Bernie Sanders as He Condemns Trans-Pacific Partnership.” The Intercept, 22 Feb. 2016. https://theintercept.com/2016/02/22/msnbc-cuts-away-from-bernie-sanders-as-he-condemns-trans-pacific-partnership/.
Daniels, Kit. “MSNBC Censors Sanders Condemning TPP.” Info Wars. 23 Feb. 2016. http://www.infowars.com/msnbc-censors-sanders-condemning-tpp/.
Student Researchers: Maxwell McPherson (California State University, Maritime Academy) and Lauren Freeman (Las Positas College)
Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, Maritime Academy)