Accuracy in Media

With the 2020 presidential primaries underway for the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee changed its own rules to qualify for the televised debates. Candidates such as Andrew Yang and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) criticized the DNC for allegedly paving the way for billionaire Michael Bloomberg to qualify for the next debate.

The DNC changed the following rules to qualify for a televised debate: It eliminated the individual donor threshold requirement while doubling the polling threshold. For months, several candidates criticized the DNC’s rules and claimed that the rules favored establishment candidates.

The changes came unexpectedly and less than a week before the first primary election in Iowa. By now, the majority of the primary field has winnowed down from dozens of candidates to a handful of candidates. Now, several of the remaining candidates blasted the DNC for changing the rules before the Iowa caucuses. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang tweeted that the changes “seems tailor-made to get Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage.” Warren tweeted the rule changes did not “ensure good, diverse candidates could remain on the debate stage.”

Both candidates alleged that the rule change benefited Bloomberg, who is self-funding his race and therefore would not have qualified for the next debate under the previous rules.

We know that the primary candidates did not like the rule change, but what did the media have to say?

The mainstream media was in lockstep in their opposition to the rule changes and all pointed out that Bloomberg would benefit from the change.

Politico wrote that the DNC “drastically” revised the rule and rule change opens the “door for Bloomberg,” while CNN said the change was “opening the door” for Bloomberg to qualify for the next televised primary debate. Vox’s headline said, “Democratic candidates aren’t happy about new debate rules that seem to benefit Bloomberg,” which danced around the issue that Bloomberg was the sole beneficiary of the rule change. Slate stated in its headline that the changes “Favor All Candidates Named Michael Bloomberg.”

The mainstream media united in its conclusion that the rule change only benefitted Bloomberg’s campaign — a telling statement that the media agrees with the Democratic Party about the DNC’s alleged preferential treatment of Bloomberg.

The media’s united front clearly indicates bias because it asserted that the rule changes benefitted Bloomberg instead of covering Bloomberg fairly. The media sourced quotes from Bloomberg’s opponents, Yang and Warren, but did not offer a defense for Bloomberg’s campaign or the DNC.

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