Thursday, September 15, 2011

the republican presidential race and the coverage of Ron Paul: a blatant example of the media interfering with democracy

Poll results for the 2012 Republican presidential race:

2012 presidential polls, ron paul polls, republican president poll
2012 presidential polls, ron paul polls, republican president poll

Without Palin:

Rick Perry 30%
Mitt Romney 25%
Ron Paul 10%
Michele Bachmann 9%
Newt Gingrich 5%
Herman Cain 5%
Rick Santorum 3%
Jon Huntsman 1%
Other 2%
No one/None of them 4%
Would not vote 1%
No opinion 5%

After looking at the polls, what conclusion should be reached? The frontrunners, according to the media, are: Perry (who's in first), Romney (in second), and... I'm sure you already know that it's not Paul but Bachmann who's considered to be the other frontrunner.

So how is it possible to look at this data and draw such a conclusion? Well, it's not. And since it's not, the exclusion of Paul can't be explained away by suggesting that it's something subconscious or coincidental. It couldn't be any more overt. And it's happening all across the board, spanning all forms and persuasions of mainstream media. Practically everyone is ignoring the third place candidate who, in most polls, has a significantly larger percentage than whichever candidate ends up fourth.

Isn't this the most noteworthy thing to happen thus far in the 2012 race?

John Stewart gave a good overview of the bias in August:

So, how can it be explained?

Since the media tends to prefer that which is entertaining to that which is actually important, one would think they'd like Paul, since, like Bachmann, he's an entertaining candidate who's also easy to make fun of. But they don't. Some will say this is because the media assumes he has no chance of winning, but, even assuming that's true (who can really know?), it's not for them to say! And it's certainly not for them to do their best to make sure this narrative comes true! Furthermore, even if we can somehow forgive them for this (we can't), the idea that Paul is ignored because he "has no chance" has already been discredited by the media outlets themselves; all one has to do is look at how they've handled other candidates who have yet to approach even half of the support Paul has in the polls.

Other people might explain this treatment by saying that Bachmann still remains on the lips of the media because of her strong showing in the Ames Straw Poll. Firstly, this still doesn't give them the right (or reason) to ignore Paul. Why should the time and consideration devoted to Bachmann come at the expense of the candidate who's now beating her (sometimes handily) in the polls? Why can't they cover them both? Secondly, this narrative doesn't make all that much sense when we take a look at the actual results:


Look at how close Paul was to Bachmann (less than 1%), and look at how far both of them were above the field. Yet what was the narrative that emerged from this? The fact that Bachmann won was the main focus. Fine. But what was the subplot? The discussion revolved around how strong Perry's showing was considering the fact that he was a write-in candidate! Wow. (And now he's the frontrunner... Go figure.)

More bias:

"Peter Schiff, a former economic adviser to Ron Paul, exposes how ABC News twice fraudulently reported on a poll it was referencing by pretending that Michelle Bachmann was in 3rd place, completely ignoring Ron Paul who was the actual 3rd place poll winner."

ron paul media bias, republican presidential race bias
left: ABC News capture; right: the poll they were using

Pundits and so-called journalists are not just looking at concrete data and then consciously drawing the wrong conclusion from it, they're also -- in order to hide the absurdity of it -- slyly trying to cover it up.

Let me go back for a minute and stress the point again: the media is overtly undermining the democratic process! Now, I'm not naive enough to think this is something new, but this time they're doing it in a way that's so obvious it would be difficult for anyone not to acknowledge it. Yet it's not a very big story. Of course we shouldn't expect it to be much of a story since it would require the corporate media to criticize itself and admit to an utter lack of objectivity. (The near impossibility of this occurring illustrates another problem.) On top of that, it's not a sexy, high-ratings kind of story, which is yet another reason no one is eager to puff it up into a big story. (See Neil Postman's essential Amusing Ourselves to Death for more on this.)

Fortunately, the Pew Research Center did a study comparing the "number of campaign stories as lead newsmaker" for each candidate. Here are the results:


"In the days after his runner-up finish to Michele Bachmann in Iowa’s August 13 GOP straw poll, Texas Congressman Ron Paul complained about a lack of media coverage, accusing the press of being 'frightened by me challenging the status quo and the establishment.'" [X]

Let's be clear. None of this has anything to do with partisanship; it simply can't be explained away using the tired Left/Right narrative. In fact, it's a decent illustration of how much of a diversion that view usually is since it's a narrative which subtly masks the reality of the corporate owned and influenced media complex, a system that allows and encourages certain fluctuations of opinion just as long as the opinions exist within a business centered paradigm.

Personally, I'm far from being a Paul supporter, but this makes me very angry. We should all be angry, even Bachmann's supporters.

So yes, the bias is probably obvious to anyone who has been following the race. The important question is, why is it happening? I don't know exactly, but I do know that the main positions Paul has that are out of the mainstream revolve around our foreign policy (he understands cause and effect, and he wants to slash the military budget). Does this mean he simply doesn't have the kind of behind the scenes support he needs from all the right people to even get fair media coverage? If so, what does that say about how utterly corrupt the mainstream media is -- NBC, Fox News, CNN, everything? (Not that we needed another example to show us how corrupt the media is.)

Here is the only interesting part of the recent Tea Party debate on CNN. Ron Paul dares to say that which must not be said. (The video will automatically start in the middle; make sure you watch until 10:29 or you'll miss the best parts):

* * *

Here's the "regular folks" candidate, Rick Perry, whom the media picked out to cheerlead early on:

Bank of America Lobbyist: "We'll help you out."

(Perry supporters will no doubt say that the above video shows nothing at all, that it merely highlights the role money plays in politics; after all, Perry doesn't make any kind of deal in the video. His supporters should instead ask themselves why Bank of America is so interested in what their candidate is selling.)

* * *
"Statesmen may devise policies; they will end in futility, as so many have recently ended, if the propagandists and censors can put a painted screen where there should be a window to the world. Few episodes in recent history are more poignant than that of the British Prime Minister, sitting at the breakfast table with that morning’s paper before him protesting that he cannot do the sensible thing in regard to Russia because a powerful newspaper proprietor has drugged the public. That incident is a photograph of the supreme danger which confronts popular government. All other dangers are contingent upon it, for the news is the chief source of the opinion by which government now proceeds. So long as there is interposed between the ordinary citizen and the facts a news organization determining by entirely private and unexamined standards, no matter how lofty, what he shall know, and hence what he shall believe, no one will be able to say that the substance of democratic government is secure. [...] In so far as those who purvey the news make of their own beliefs a higher law than truth, they are attacking the foundations of our constitutional system. There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil." --Walter Lippmann, Liberty and the News

1 comment:

Tyler said...

I forgot to add:

Isn't it also a kind of bias for CNN, ABC, and Fox to pick out someone who isn't even currently running for president (Palin) and insert her into their polls?