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 SandersSinger Neil Young says that America's presidents haven't done enough address climate change New poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide MORE (I-Vt.) suggested that the newspaper negatively covers his presidential campaign because he criticizes its owner, Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Bloomberg's path to the convention — and beyond 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 TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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 Ann WarrenNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Bloomberg, Patrick take different approaches after late entries into primary race Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne MORE (D-Mass.) rising to second place, behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide READ: Foreign service officer Jennifer Williams' closed-door testimony from the House impeachment inquiry MORE. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide Harris gets key union endorsement amid polling plateau MORE (D-Calif.) nabbed third place in the survey.