(BY Eric Boehlert, article)

There's been a recent claim that Biden's surge was because of friendly media coverage. But that notion doesn't really add up. The claim is that after his win in South Carolina, Biden earned so much free media via news coverage that that propelled him to victory on Super Tuesday. It turns out that between South Carolina and Super Tuesday, Sanders actually won twice as much earned media as Biden, via news coverage, according to media monitoring data from Critical Mention. (Biden earned $72 million worth of earned media, Sanders $156 million.)

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Thx. I appreciate your reporting.

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All of this is true, but even more broadly, for-profit media needs drama and narrative. Their job is selling eyeballs to advertisers, so they need to constantly grab people's attention. Hence all the sports-style focus on the "horse race". Who's up? Who's down? What are the prospects for next week's matchup? "The primary contest looks basically the same as it did a year ago, other than Buttigieg replacing O'Rourke as this primary's 'young fresh face' candidate" doesn't get clicks.

Also the national media "discourse" is determined by whatever people in the social circles of the NY-DC media axis are talking about, despite whatever guilt they sometimes feel about this. Their fellow liberal-ish urban professionals lean towards Sanders, and some like Buttigieg and O'Rourke, or Klobuchar or Warren, and they tend to dislike Bloomberg but are quite familiar with him (and he was spending tons of money on ads!), so those are the candidates they talked about constantly. Biden is old and boring and doesn't appeal a lot to them, but of course they couldn't ignore him totally, being the constant frontrunner and the obvious party establishment favorite, but coverage of him generally had a distinct eating-your-vegetables-before-you-can-have-dessert flavor to it.

We Californians (remember, California is the most populous state!) are quite attuned to the aforementioned NY-DC bias in national media. Anything west of the Mississippi might as well be on another planet most of the time, except when something "headline-grabbing" is happening.

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The media’s reporting on the results of Iowa and New Hampshire was biased to fit their favorite narrative that Democrats have become much more liberal in recent years. They ignored the clear evidence that there were significantly more moderate voters than liberal ones in both of those states. Focusing only on individual candidates masked the fact that moderates out numbered the progressive voters but were splitting their votes among three candidates, not two. In Iowa the total for Warren and Sanders combined was only 44.1% of the total compared with 53.3% for Buttigieg, Biden and Klobuchar combined. That difference was even starker in New Hampshire with the two more liberal candidates earning only 34.9% of the vote while the three moderates got 52.6 %.

The best explanation I can think of for this is that hyping the strength of the progressives and Bernie in particular fits with one of the media’s favorite narratives - that Democrats are moving to the left. That fits the media’s faux balance claim that both sides are polarized. But what really puzzles me is that they kept claiming that Bernie was the winner when he was actually trailing Buttigieg in delegates and the two of them were virtually tied in total votes. That narrative surely helped Bernie in Nevada becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once Klobuchar and Buttigieg dropped out the evidence that a strong majority of Democratic voters are much more moderate than the media has been portraying them became so clear that the media cannot ignore it anymore. At least for now.

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