Which maker Sanders did Monday in New Hampshire is even more frustrating.
"You see, I talk about it all the time. And then I wonder why The Washington Post – owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns by Amazon – didn't write good articles about me. I don't know why. But I don't think there might be a connection. "
Well, no, nothing. And what Sanders does there is actually no different than Trump does – both in his attacks on the media in general and his specific hits in The Washington Post.
The sentiments expressed in both comments are the same: Since Bezos, a billionaire and founder of Amazon, also owns the Post, the newspaper has no hope weaken against anyone who has negative things to say about Amazon. Sanders said and what Trump has long maintained is that there is a corporate cabal out there to get them because they have had the courage to speak up.
"Sen. Sanders was a member of a large club of politicians – of every ideology – who complained about their coverage," the Post's executive editor, Marty Baron, said in a statement following no Sanders' guilty plea. "Contrary to the conspiracy theory that the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our classroom to operate independently, as verified by our reporters and editors."
I am one of the broadcasters mentioned by Marty. I worked for The Washington Post for a decade before going to CNN in early 2017. For the last three of my years at the Post, Bezos owned the company. Not once all that time – and I wrote several pieces a day about politics and politicians (including Sanders and Trump) at that time – there was even a whisper of Bezos' influence in the classroom.
What's really shocking about Sanders Monday's statement is that he knows all that. He has been in politics for a long time. He knows the job of the Post – and CNN and every other major media organization – is not just giving him (or any other candidate running for president) a "good article" about his candidacy. The job of the media is to hold the politicians accountable, in fact evaluate the claims they make and to educate the public. Not to please politicians.
But the standard for Democrats should not be some version of "well, Trump did the same thing – and worse!" There is no debate that Trump has eroded, if not completely destroyed, the notion of the presidency as a beacon of moral leadership. But traveling down the road, though occasionally, with Trump is not a recipe to show the country the necessary change that Democrats believe they represent.
And again: Sanders knows better. (Likewise with Trump, of course.) He said what he said was to get a cheap round of applause in a town hall full of supporters. The problem for Sanders, Trump and politics is more generally that many people who hear things like this from them do not know better. They really believe that there is some kind of conspiracy between corporate America and the news media. And when politicians – whether it's Sanders, Trump or anyone else in either party – have echoed sentiment, that's dangerous. And bad for democracy. Full stop.