Analysis: CNN Coverage of Bernie Sanders Was 3 Times More Negative Than Joe Biden After Their Wins

CNN portrayed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders more negatively than former Vice President Joe Biden after their respective primary wins, according to an analysis by the progressive outlet In These Times.

Sanders received 3.26 times as much negative coverage after his big win in Nevada as Biden received after his big win in South Carolina, according to the analysis.

Sanders, who won in Nevada by more than 25 points, received 419 mentions in the following 24 hours while Biden received 249. Of those, Sander received 354 “neutral” mentions, 32 “positive” mentions, and 33 “negative” mentions.

Many of the negative mentions argued that Sanders was too far left, tied him to Russia, or argued that he was not electable.

Biden’s coverage more positive:

By comparison, Biden received far fewer negative mentions after he won in South Carolina by nearly 30 points.

Biden received 224 neutral mentions, 19 positive mentions, and six negative mentions in the 24 hours following his win, according to the analysis.

“In contrast to Sanders, criticisms of Biden following his South Carolina win were far more temperate—and less seathing and drawn-out—with all of them focusing on inadequacies or challenges in the campaign, competition from other ‘moderates,’ and the need for him to be more inspirational. Some of the criticisms also contained encouragement,” wrote In These Times’ Juan Caicedo and Sarah Lazare. “This tally is likely an undercount of overall pro-Biden slant in the current media landscape, as it does not include the avalanche of positive coverage Biden received for the endorsements from Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke that came the following day.”

MSNBC more negative on Sanders too:

An In These Times analysis of MSNBC’s coverage of the race back in November similarly found that the network covered Sanders more negatively than his opponents on their afternoon and evening shows.

“The coverage quickly revealed a pattern. Over the two months, these six programs focused on Biden, often to the exclusion of Warren and Sanders. Sanders received not only the least total coverage (less than one-third of Biden’s), but the most negative. As to the substance, MSNBC’s reporting revolved around poll results and so-called electability,” the outlet reported. “Of the three candidates, Sanders was least likely to be mentioned positively (12.9% of his mentions) and most likely to be mentioned negatively (20.7%). The remaining two-thirds of his mentions were neutral. Sanders received no negative mentions on Maddow’s show (which had the least primary coverage of the six programs analyzed), and only a handful on O’Donnell’s, Melber’s and Hayes’ shows. Rather, 87% of negative mentions came from just two programs: Matthews’ Hardball and Williams’ 11th Hour.”


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