A CNN panel ripped Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) Tuesday for his "dangerous" suggestion that the Washington Post covers him unfairly because of influence from billionaire owner Jeff Bezos.
Sanders, a fierce critic of Amazon, told a New Hampshire audience on Monday that he believed he got negative coverage from the Post because it was owned by Bezos, who also owns Amazon. Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron fired back that Sanders's "conspiracy theory" was bunk and Bezos in no way influenced the newspaper's coverage.
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CNN anchor Poppy Harlow pronounced herself "surprised" at Sanders's language, and likened it to President Richard Nixon saying on tape that he didn't want Post reporters at the White House.
"This is a very serious claim against the Washington Post, with no evidence, and it is echoing what the president says," Harlow said.
CNN's Chris Cillizza, who formerly wrote for the Post, called it a "ridiculous claim."
"If you condemn Donald Trump for saying the Amazon Washington Post, you need to condemn Bernie Sanders for basically saying the exact same thing," he said.
"It's the kind of thing that's a good applause line, but it doesn't have any bearing in reality, and it's dangerous because people who don't know better believe it," he added.
CNN's Dana Bash, who moderated the debates held on the network last month for Democratic candidates, pointed out Sanders attacked the network during the debate for airing commercials for major drug companies. Sanders also accused Jake Tapper of using a "Republican talking point" when asked if he would raise taxes to pay for a single-payer health care system.
"What is so dangerous, to pick up on that important word that Chris just used, is that there is already an attack on all institutions," Bash said. "There is an attack on the institution of the free press by the president of the United States, and the fact that Bernie Sanders is doing it to get frankly some cheap applause lines is dangerous and a little bit surprising."
She said Sanders "gets a lot of fair coverage" on CNN.
Sanders frequently attacks media outlets, accusing them of being too corporate in contrast to his left-wing, populist campaign.