AILSA CHANG, HOST:
OK. Politicians rarely like the coverage they get from the media. And that includes Senator Bernie Sanders, who is apparently not very happy with coverage from The Washington Post about his presidential candidacy so far. Listen to what he said yesterday in New Hampshire.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BERNIE SANDERS: Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?
UNIDENTIFIED SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Nothing.
SANDERS: Yeah. So, you know, I talk about that all of the time, and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why.
CHANG: NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro tells us that there's a bit of history between Sanders and Amazon.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there.
CHANG: So what started all of this?
MONTANARO: Well, look. Sanders has continuously made an example of Amazon on the campaign trail. He's blasted the company for what you hear in that clip, which is for not paying much, if anything, in taxes. Sanders has also criticized Amazon for what he says is not paying a, quote, "living wage" to its workers. His push actually got Amazon, in part, to increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour last October. But since then, the Post reported on a labor dispute within the Sanders campaign. Its unionized workers want better pay and benefits.
CHANG: So what's been the response from the Post?
MONTANARO: Well, the Post editor, Marty Baron, put out a statement and said that Bezos does not influence the newspaper's coverage and accused Sanders of peddling a, quote, "conspiracy theory," which is not something you usually hear from a newspaper editor about a presidential campaign. And he said that Sanders is part of a large club of politicians who are upset about coverage every day.
Now, Sanders today pivoted, saying it was more a general criticism of corporate-owned media and that his concern wasn't exactly that he thought Bezos was on the phone every day with its editors at the Post.
CHANG: That phrase large club of politicians - we know who Baron's probably referring to.
MONTANARO: (Laughter) In part, yes. And what - that certainly perked the ears up of a lot of political reporters. And also, Sanders' statement certainly echoes a lot of what we've heard from President Trump. Take a listen to what the president told reporters at the White House while standing in front of the presidential helicopter Marine One.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So I think it's a horrible thing when a paper, which is really just a paper for the benefit of Amazon - The Washington Post is fake news, just like The New York Times is fake news. It's put there for the benefit - The Washington Post - of Amazon. That's my opinion, and I think it's a disgrace.
MONTANARO: Of course, Bezos owns the Post and is also the founder and CEO of Amazon, which is the link here. Trump has repeatedly criticized the Post and tied it to Amazon. He's actually done it more than 30 times on Twitter, where he's linked the two together. And, obviously, you know, this is a major deal on the campaign trail and especially because campaigns always work the refs. Right? I mean...
MONTANARO: What was different here was not just echoing the president's language but also accusing a mainstream news outlet's owner of influencing coverage, which, of course, Sanders walked back. And that's the kind of thing that really does misinform the public, which is already pretty distrustful of the media about how good outlets do their jobs and safeguards that are put in place.
CHANG: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro.
MONTANARO: You're so welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.