Former Sanders Press Secretary Blames Media for Protecting Biden

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden / Getty Images
April 23, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) former campaign press secretary said in a new interview the media effectively conspired to protect presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden at the expense of her old boss.

"Yeah, voters chose Joe Biden as their preferred candidate after months of concentrated media attention saying that he was the most electable candidate, not talking about any of his vulnerabilities," Briahna Joy Gray told the Atlantic.

Asked if she was selling primary voters short to claim a "media conspiracy" made them support Biden, Gray demurred.

"I didn’t say it was just a media conspiracy that made them vote for Biden. I’m saying that’s a part of it," she said.

Gray argued Sanders faced a biased media climate that downplayed Biden's flaws.

"But to pretend that the voters were operating in kind of a neutral, unbiased media climate is also inaccurate," she said. "People need information to make informed decisions, and unfortunately the media climate meant that was not the case."

Gray criticized the press's handling of Tara Reade's allegation against Biden of sexual assault, saying the accusation is a cause for concern about Biden's nomination but was ignored until Biden had a safe lead in the primary.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said reporting on allegations against public figures is "very subjective" when he explained the paper's decision not to pursue the Reade story as aggressively as it did accusations against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation battle.

Sanders announced his endorsement on April 13, five days after dropping out of the race. Sanders was the early frontrunner in the primary, but Biden's blowout victory in South Carolina and subsequent wins on Super Tuesday gave him a comfortable delegate lead.

Gray, however, blamed the Democratic Party for blocking Sanders from the nomination and said it had failed to engage progressives about solving Biden's "obvious flaws that might damage his candidacy."

"The Democratic Party is telling us, it seems, that they’re more interested in shaming voters than actually putting forth the best nominee," she told the Atlantic. "Pushing Biden to the left makes him more electable."

Sanders distanced himself from Gray after he endorsed Biden, stressing that Gray is "not on the payroll," as she stated she would refuse to endorse Biden unless he adopted numerous progressive policies. Sanders has said not supporting Biden against President Donald Trump would be irresponsible.