Most of the media’s attention was fixed on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first debate performance this week, and its post-debate headlines demonstrated the media’s singular focus. The majority of mainstream media headlines after the weeknight debate mentioned Bloomberg, but not Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Here are some examples of post-debate headlines which mentioned Bloomberg:
- CNN: “6 takeaways from Democrats’ Bloomberg pile-on in Nevada”
- NBC News: “Bloomberg spends about $7 million per day on his campaign, latest filing shows”
- ABC News: “Bloomberg seeks to regain footing after uneven debate debut”
- CBS News: “Democrats clash in fiery Las Vegas debate with Bloomberg as main target”
- MSNBC: “Unprepared, unequipped Mike Bloomberg makes first debate appearance”
There were far fewer headlines that mentioned Sanders’ debate performance. CNN, for example, ran the following two articles mentioning Sanders’ name in the headline:
- February 20: “Sanders says Obama would ‘be there at my side’ if he’s the nominee”
- February 20: “How Bernie Sanders could actually be helping the stock market”
While several post-debate analyses mentioned Sanders’ debate performance, most headlines focused on Bloomberg’s struggles on the Las Vegas debate stage. Sanders is the perceived front-runner, after former Vice President Joe Biden’s lackluster results in Iowa and New Hampshire, and poll numbers back that perception for the time being.
It is important for the media to fairly cover the leading primary candidate, especially the leading candidate in the Nevada caucuses. Yet the mainstream media focused on Bloomberg’s first debate and their headlines ignored Sanders’ front-runner status.
Accuracy in Media has consistently reported about the mainstream media’s lack of fair reporting when it comes to Sanders’ campaign and his past statements as a longtime public servant. The media’s headlines ignored Sanders’ front-runner status and narrowed in on Bloomberg, despite the reality that Sanders’ campaign could be gaining momentum heading into the next several primaries. The mainstream media did not do an adequate job in evaluating Sanders’ debate performance and its headlines reflect this disappointing reality.