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Washington Post editor calls Sanders claim about campaign coverage a 'conspiracy theory'

The executive editor of The Washington Post late Monday fired back after Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift In defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism MORE (I-Vt.) suggested that the newspaper negatively covers his presidential campaign because he criticizes its owner, Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund MORE.

"Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Marty Baron said in a statement to CNN. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

Baron’s response came after Sanders knocked Bezos, who also owns Amazon, during a campaign speech in Wolfeboro, N.H.

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"I talk about [Amazon's taxes] all of the time," Sanders said. "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."

Bezos bought the newspaper in 2013 for $250 million and has since faced criticism from a variety of politicians including President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE, who has dubbed the paper “The Amazon Washington Post.”

Baron told The New York Times earlier this year that Bezos has never gotten involved in the newspaper’s reporting or final stories. 

“People surmise that it must be difficult to cover Jeff and Amazon. But we’ve gone five and a half years with his ownership, and he hasn’t once intervened in any way,” Baron said.

Sanders and his campaign have begun arguing recently that a variety of news outlets, including the Post and the Times, are biased in their coverage of his 2020 White House bid. 

"We have pointed out over and over again that Amazon made $10 billion in profits last year. You know how much they paid in taxes? You got it, zero! Any wonder why The Washington Post is not one of my great supporters, I wonder why?" Sanders said in North Conway, N.H., on Monday night, according to CNN.

"New York Times not much better," he added. 

Top advisers to the Vermont senator’s campaign on a Monday phone call with reporters argued that Sanders has been making ground in the crowded Democratic primary field, despite headlines. 

“We’re sort of in the phase called the ‘Bernie write-off,’” said senior adviser Jeff Weaver. “There seems to be a direct correlation between the media coverage of the polls and Bernie Sanders’s standing in those polls.”

The comments came days after a Monmouth University poll of likely Democratic Iowa caucusgoers showed Sanders slipping into fourth place. That same survey found Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Mass.) rising to second place, behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force Club for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's MORE (D-Calif.) nabbed third place in the survey.