By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

It's no secret that Republicans often excite their base by taking shots at the media, leveling accusations of bias against newspapers, cable news channels, and Hollywood. But Democrats have ~generally~ avoided this. That appears to no longer be the case.

"For the first time in my career, making the press a foil is good politics in a Democratic primary, and that is going to have long-standing consequences for the business of journalism," Dan Pfeiffer told Politico last week.

That quote has stuck with me — and the tactic was certainly on full display Monday. Campaigns for two of the top Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, took aim at the press. So let's dive into what they said...

Sanders launches Trump-like attack on WaPo

Bernie Sanders sounded eerily similar to Trump on Monday when he took a swipe at WaPo. While delivering a stump speech in New Hampshire, Sanders suggested there was a link between the coverage he receives in WaPo and his rhetoric toward Amazon.

"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."

Marty Baron responds: Your "conspiracy theory" is wrong

I reached out to a WaPo spokesperson on Monday evening to see if the newspaper had any response to Sanders' criticism. Shortly after, I received a statement from WaPo executive editor Marty Baron.

Baron said, "Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage. 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." Here's my full story with Annie Grayer and Greg Krieg...

"Not one time was there even a hint of Bezos influence in our coverage"

One person who came to WaPo's defense on Monday night was Chris Cillizza, who formerly worked at the newspaper. Cillizza tweeted, "I worked for several years at the Post under Marty — and when Bezos owned the company. Not one time was there even a hint of Bezos influence in our coverage. Marty wouldn't have stood for it."

The Sanders camp keeps doing this

Before the CNN Democratic debates, Faiz Shakir appeared on "Reliable Sources" and criticized the media writ large. At one point, Shakir suggested — with no evidence — that advertising by pharmaceutical companies ends up incentivizing journalists to be "driving the conversation in certain areas, and not in certain areas." Brian Stelter pushed back, asking what evidence Shakir had of that. Shakir didn't quite answer the question, just saying that he was happy to talk with the heads of cable news channels about coverage...

Meanwhile, Biden camp also zings press...

Appearing on "CNN Right Now" with Brianna Keilar, Joe Biden advisor Symone Sanders criticized the national media, suggesting stories about Biden's recent gaffes were a "press narrative, not a voter narrative." Keiler pressed Sanders, asking her about another recent gaffe. Sanders dismissed that, saying it was a "false narrative" because Biden "corrected himself."

Separately, on Twitter, Biden's national press secretary TJ Ducklo also zinged the national press. Ducklo noted Biden's recent speech about the threat of white nationalism. "Iowa press: The stakes of this election couldn't be higher. National press: 'But his gaffes!"

>> One note about this comparison: Local press generally does treat the candidates in a less-confrontational way than the national press. Reporters from local communities are covering the story through a totally different lens than reporters who follow the candidates on a daily basis. Comparing the two is not exactly fair...


-- The Post's newest count: "President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days..." (WaPo)

-- Journalists in Kashmir are still getting the news out, despite the Indian government having shut off Internet connections amid a lockdown. One editor has been carrying a hard drive with the news to a printing press and "operates the hulking machines himself, something he's never had to do before," Sameer Yasir reports... (NYT)

-- Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the Charlottesville violence. CNN's Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner published a story noting that Heather Heyer's name is not on the FBI's hate crimes report, and why that is... (CNN)

-- Rush Limbaugh on Monday dismissed the big NYT piece noting the "striking degree of overlap" between right-wing media stars and the suspected El Paso shooter... (Mediaite)

CBS-Viacom announcement seems imminent

Brian Stelter writes: The reunion of CBS and Viacom could be announced Tuesday morning, per an exec involved in the deal.

The companies are "in the final stages of negotiating," the WSJ's Ben Mullinand Dana Cimilluca wrote Monday... "The two sides are still working out details, including the stock exchange ratio for the transaction but have narrowed it down to a range of between 0.59 and 0.60 CBS share for each Viacom share, according to people familiar with the matter. That ratio would value Viacom slightly below its market value as of Friday, which was about $12 billion." On Monday Viacom shares slipped 4.9%. CBS traded down about 1.8%.

Bloomberg reports that the lawyers doing the deal are using the code names Comet and Venus for the companies...

What's next?

Stelter adds: These two companies are like runners at the start of a marathon already thinking about doing a triathlon.

Steven Zeitchik captures this sentiment in a headline for WaPo: "A CBS-Viacom merger is a logical step, but probably only a first one." He quotes investment banker Lloyd Greif saying "To me, a combination is just a first step. If there isn't a next step, they're toast."

Peter Kafka also wrote about this in a new Recode story. "The next step for Redstone, according to people who work for her: trying to find other companies to merge with her newly merged company. The idea: CBS and Viacom, which used to be the same company but got split apart years ago, need to combine to compete with the likes of Apple, AT&T, and Disney, who are all trying to compete with Netflix," he wrote...

A bullish argument for a would-be buyer: "CBS and Viacom streaming assets offer potent blend of subscriptions and advertising," Deadline's Dade Hayes wrote Monday...

Jim Gianopulos signs new deal at Paramount

Frank Pallotta writes: Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has signed a new, multi-year contract. "In addition, Paramount's current production president Elizabeth Raposo has extended her contract," Deadline reports...