Earlier this week, Project Veritas released a video recorded undercover that shows a man said to be a Bernie Sanders staffer, saying he expects that if US President Donald Trump is re-elected in November, “cities will burn” – as well as that Trump voters might be “reeducated” in case of a Sanders victory.
Further, the man – identified as Kyle Jurek – described himself as an anarcho-communist and suggested that members of the militant left-wing group Antifa might be in the Sanders campaign.
And even though the undercover video was mostly ignored by mainstream media, it still managed to become headline news on the internet. The story succeeded in overshadowing what many would have expected to have the most impact – namely, a clash between Sanders and another Democratic presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren, over whether or not he said that “a woman can't win” a US election.
Between Monday and Wednesday, of the 30 biggest stories about Sanders, ten concerned the Project Veritas video, and only seven the senator's argument with Warren, writes Axios.
Social media interactions-wise – including likes, shares, and comments – this translates to 426k interactions on stories covering the Project Veritas undercover video, and 390k on the Sanders-Warren situation.
“It's a vivid lesson in what happens when a thriving conservative media ecosystem competes with the mainstream media,” writes Axios.
Project Veritas, that describes itself as investigating and exposing corruption and other types of misconduct, is dubbed by Axios as a right wing outfit, and the video as viral.
And its success is seen here as highlighting the potential for the 2020 Democratic primary giving the conservative media, i.e., “right wing publishers,” an opportunity to use social media to disseminate information even if corporate media ignores it.
Axios describes the Daily Wire, Breitbart, the Washington Times and the Daily Caller as conservative media who reported about the Project Veritas undercover video – and wound up having the biggest reach online when it comes to stories covering the Sanders campaign earlier this week.
According to the article, the interactions numbers demonstrate that a story being covered by mainstream media no longer guarantees it will have the widest reach, because of “a groundswell generated by readers online on stories that may not be visible to most of the country.”
Axios refers to this phenomenon as essentially a negative occurrence – “a splintered partisan digital universe” that makes it difficult to train “different slices” of the electorate to “pay attention to the same things.”