The Washington Post's longtime progressive columnist Harold Meyerson published his final weekly piece for the paper yesterday. Among the mourners: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
"It's extremely unfortunate," said Sanders in a statement to the Post, which he later adapted into a tweet. "There are very few progressive voices out there in the corporate media. Harold is one of the best. Harold's insights into the decline of the middle class and wealth and income inequality will be sorely missed by readers of The Washington Post."
On the campaign trail, Sanders has wound critiques of the media into many of his speeches and Q&As. His supporters have echoed that, asking editors and programmers why the surprisingly robust support for a self-avowed democratic socialist has received a fraction of the coverage granted to Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
Meyerson, whose column appeared in the Post for 13 years, took a pro-labor approach to politics that often mirrored that of Sanders. "I've still encountered just two avowed democratic socialists in my daily rounds through the nation's capital: Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders... and the guy I see in the mirror when I shave," wrote Meyerson in a 2009 piece.
This is not the first time Sanders has played media critic. In July, when MSNBC ended Ed Schultz's talk show, Sanders criticized the network's parent company Comcast for not trusting that a discussion of "the real issues facing our country" could hold an audience.
"We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera," Sanders said. "At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda."
Two months later, at a progressive festival in Wisconsin Schultz endorsed Sanders for president.
In an email Meyerson sent to some media contacts last night, he characterized the final pre-cancellation discussions with Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post. Hiatt, according to Meyerson, said the column was suffering from "poor social media metrics" and "excessive discussion of two topics: worker power (decline thereof) and alternative corporate structures."
"If there were other reasons, he didn't bring them up," wrote Meyerson in the email. "I said that he might have raised his objections with me before deciding to drop the column; he acknowledged he should have."
On Thursday, Hiatt said in an email that the column simply failed to find and hold an audience.
"The Post opinion section takes pride in publishing a wide range of views," said Hiatt, "including progressives Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, Ruth Marcus, Greg Sargent, Paul Waldman, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, and contributing columnists Rachel Maddow and Danielle Allen, We’ve been pleased to publish Harold’s columns for the past 13 years, but he failed to attract readers as these others have. And while our decision should never be made based only on clicks, I think it would be arrogant to entirely ignore what our readers are telling us."
Meyerson, who told friends he'd find a new home for the column in 2015, said in an email that he was thankful for Sanders's praise.
"I very much appreciate the senator's remarks (and, indeed, his entire career)," he wrote, "as I do all the other kind comments I've received today."