Bernie Sanders is blaming the media for Donald Trump's dominance of the Republican race.
"He knows that media is not so interested in the serious issues facing this country. They love bombastic remarks. They love silly remarks," Sanders told Chris Cuomo in an interview that aired on CNN's "New Day" Thursday. "I think this is more of an indictment of the media than it is Trump."
Sanders pointed to recent research to illustrate his point. "A recent study showed on ABC evening news, Trump over a period of time got 81 minutes of time. Bernie Sanders got 20 seconds. Now you tell me why."
Sanders was referring to data compiled by The Tyndall Report, which tracks the news coverage of ABC, CBS and NBC networks. Media Matters obtained from Andrew Tyndall a more detailed breakdown of the numbers he cited in his original report, which showed that over 2015, through the end of November, the three networks had spent 234 total network minutes on Trump during their evening news broadcasts, compared to a mere 10 network minutes for Sanders.
Tyndall told Media Matters that of the three networks, ABC had spent the least time on Sanders -- as Sanders suggested, just 20 seconds over the prior 11 months, compared to 81 minutes for Trump.
Sanders has made the remark before, and when he mentioned the statistic earlier this month, Trump tweeted a response.
On Thursday, Cuomo defended the disproportionate coverage of Trump by citing his leading position in the polls.
Cuomo said, "Do we cover him more? Yes. Why? He's number one in the polls. He's highly relevant. He drives the discussion."
Sanders has also been leading in polls of the Democratic field in New Hampshire.
He told Cuomo that it's the media coverage has catapulted Trump to the top of the polls. In Sanders' view, there now exists a self-perpetuating cycle, in which the media rationalizes its coverage of Trump by pointing to the fact that he's leading in the polls, and he leads in the polls because the media devotes so much of its air time to him.
"[E]xplain to me how he becomes number one," Sanders said of Trump. "He says, 'I don't even have to pay for commercials. The media's going to put me on all the time.'"
Cuomo replied, "There's no question that Trump drives ratings and that's always an influence in everything that we do." But he refuted Sanders' theory of Trump's success, saying, "[Y]ou can't just wipe off all this popularity that he has with a growing base of the GOP. They're putting him first in the polls not because of the media. They say they hate the media. They just love Trump."