What ideas go in which sphere is an inescapable part of journalism, though most reporters don't acknowledge they're doing it. And at the moment, the idea of Bernie Sanders as a candidate is getting placed in the deviant sphere. As Steve Hendricks noted, the media has mostly presented Sanders as a non-serious kook:Truthfully when one considers Sanders' positions of tax the rich and redistribution of income they aren't that much different than the rest of the progressive Democrats. But the media is trying to protect Hillary Clinton by ignoring Sanders.
The Times, for example, buried his announcement on page A21, even though every other candidate who had declared before then had been put on the front page above the fold. Sanders's straight-news story didn't even crack 700 words, compared to the 1,100 to 1,500 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton got. As for the content, the Times' reporters declared high in Sanders' piece that he was a long shot for the Democratic nomination and that Clinton was all but a lock. None of the Republican entrants got the long-shot treatment, even though Paul, Rubio, and Cruz were generally polling fifth, seventh, and eighth among Republicans before they announced. [Columbia Journalism Review]Indeed, if anything Sanders is more credible than the likes of Paul and Cruz [their opinion not mine] He has risen markedly in the polls of late, where his support has about tripled since the end of last year. He's doing particularly well in New Hampshire, where a recent poll put him in second place at 18 percent support. As an opponent of the Iraq War and a longtime advocate for more progressive policy, he has a natural constituency in the liberal left, where he is genuinely admired.
According to the Real Clear Politics average, the GOP race looks like this. Despite their low standing candidates such as Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum are getting plenty of coverage (not that its a bad thing). And even Donald Trump who is not included in the RCP average gets coverage as a legitimate candidate.
Real Clear Politics average has Sanders at 7.4% of the Democrats polled a bigger percentage of Democrats than candidates such as Christie, Fiorina, Graham, Santorum and Trump has amongst the Democrats.
Understand the argument here is not to take away coverage from the lower rated Republicans, but to ask the question if the mainstream media is treating Rick Santorum, Chris Christie and Donald Trump as legitimate candidates why don't they treat Bernie Sanders as legitimate.
The reason is obvious. They are protecting their candidate, Hillary Clinton.