Bernie Sanders Says His Administration Would 'Reform the Media Industry'

By Susan Jones | August 27, 2019 | 8:08am EDT
Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at the Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2019 in Des Moines. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/ AFP/Getty Images)

( - "Real journalism" is fading away, replaced by "gossip, punditry, and clickbait," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review on Monday.

He blamed "decades of consolidation and deregulation" and "oligarchic business models" for decimating a "diverse and truly independent press."

"When I am president, my administration will put in place policies that will reform the media industry and better protect independent journalism at both the local and national levels," Sanders wrote.

Sanders' plan includes:

-- Cracking down on corporate media mergers, such as the plan to merge CBS and Viacom. Sanders called for an "immediate moratorium" of mergers of major media corporations "until we can better understand the true effect these transactions have on our democracy."

-- Requiring major media corporations to disclose "significant journalism layoffs."

-- Giving media employees the opportunity to buy media outlets through employee stock-ownership plans before future mergers can take place.

-- Requiring federal agencies, such as the FCC, to consider how media merger and deregulation decisions affect women and people of color.

-- Barring cross-ownership of newspapers and television or radio stations; barring ownership of multiple stations in the same market.

-- Passing a "Workplace Democracy Plan" to boost media workers' efforts to unionize.

-- Appointing an attorney general and Federal Trade Commission officials who will "stringently enforce antitrust laws against tech giants such as Facebook and Google, to prevent them from using their enormous market power to cannibalize, bilk, and defund news organizations. Their monopoly power has particularly harmed small, independent news outlets that do not have the corporate infrastructure to fight back," Sanders wrote.

Sanders also suggested taxing targeted online ads and "using the revenue to fund nonprofit civic-minded media."

Sanders concluded:

Our constitution’s First Amendment explicitly protects the free press because the founders understood how important journalism is to a democracy. More than two centuries after the constitution was signed, we cannot sit by and allow corporations, billionaires, and demagogues to destroy the Fourth Estate, nor can we allow them to replace serious reporting with infotainment and propaganda.

We must take action--and if we do, I know we can be successful. We can and will restore the media that Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Cronkite envisioned, and that America so desperately needs.


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