- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

How the Media Pick the Candidates

Whatever you think of Ron Paul,
you have to admit that the media are notoriously biased against him.
The Fox News Channel unfairly excluded him from its January 6 debate,
while MSNBC and CNN tried to keep him from speaking for any significant
length of time during their January 24 and January 30 debates. This
is a candidate, we must recall, who placed second in the Republican
Nevada caucuses on January 19, beating John McCain.

Interestingly, every time the
media do something to undercut Ron Paul, his supporters react by sending
more money to his campaign. The result is that the Los Angeles Times
and other media are reporting that Ron Paul was the most successful
fundraiser among the Republican presidential candidates in the last
three months of 2007. Paul brought in $19.7 million-compared to $9.9
million for Mitt Romney, $6.8 million for John McCain, and $6.6 million
for Mike Huckabee.

Anyone who watched the Republican
debate on CNN could not have helped notice how the questions went down
the line, from Mitt Romney to John McCain, and then skipped over Ron
Paul. This happened on several occasions. Eventually, the other candidate
on the stage, Mike Huckabee, got so disgusted that he spoke up in protest,
wondering why the “spigot” of questions had been turned off for
him, too. “I didn’t come here to umpire a ballgame between these
two,” Huckabee said, referring to Romney and McCain. “I came here
to get a chance to swing at a few myself.” Huckabee wasn’t whining;
he was telling the truth about how the media try to rig the process.

It all goes to show that these
“debates” are media productions that have little to do with an actual
examination of differences between the candidates. In effect, the media
are trying to pick the candidates and narrow down the race. While few
people, relatively speaking, actually watch the debates on the cable
channels, the exchanges which are manufactured by the nature of the
questions that are addressed to certain candidates get picked up by
many other media outlets, leading to a public perception that the “frontrunners”
being quoted are the only “serious” ones left in the race.

This media bias can only lead
to more of a backlash against the media from supporters of other candidates.
Indeed, some Ron Paul supporters are carrying banners and signs at his
campaign rallies blasting the media. When Fox excluded him from its
debate, a website [1] was created to protest the exclusion
and one Paul supporter responded, “Bye, Bye Fox. WE are the media
now.” I can testify to some truth in that statement, having been a
guest on an Internet radio show hosted by a Ron Paul supporter named
Indy, who lives in Japan, and which took calls from around the world.
I was invited on to talk about media bias against the candidate. There
are several other Internet radio shows exclusively devoted to his candidacy.

Paul’s opposition to the
Iraq War might have made him too “liberal” for the Fox News Channel
(FNC) debate. One can understand but not defend this exclusion. FNC
should have the freedom to do what it wants, even if it is being unfair
and unbalanced in this case. But what accounts for the hostility to
Paul from liberal outlets like CNN and MSNBC? Perhaps they do not like
the more conservative aspects of his message, such as his opposition
to the United Nations and higher taxes and more federal spending. Paul
puts a wrench in their plans to ask questions that push the candidates
in a more liberal direction.

Paul, for example, doesn’t
favor more federal spending on education, he favors less. In fact, he
sticks to the old Ronald Reagan platform of abolishing the federal Department
of Education. A recent National Taxpayers Union study finds that, of
the Republican candidates left in the presidential race, Paul is the
only one whose proposals amount to an overall federal spending cut (of
$150 billion). This position is not popular with the liberal media.

Paul is also unabashedly pro-life
and spoke at the recent March for Life in Washington, D.C. Ron
Paul for President banners were very visible at the event and I didn’t
see any for any other candidate except Fred Thompson, who has since
dropped out. Of course, the media are overwhelmingly pro-abortion and,
if they ever bring up the subject during a debate, would not want Ron
Paul, a medical doctor, talking about how he has delivered 4,000 babies
and how the unborn are innocent human lives deserving of protection.

Raising money is one sign that
a campaign is generating energy and enthusiasm. Another is having people
actually show up at your events. Here, Ron Paul is also doing well.
Around the country, even on college campuses, he is drawing good crowds.
On the campuses, a Florida International mock primary election poll
of students found Ron Paul winning among Republicans, getting 27 percent
to 23 percent for McCain, while a local paper reports that at the University
of Pittsburgh the most active candidate organization on campus has been
Paul’s. These are not isolated cases.

In the Iowa caucuses, where
Paul got 10 percent overall, he received 20 percent of the vote of 17-24
year-olds. In New Hampshire, where he got eight percent overall, he
got 19 percent of the young voters. In Michigan, he got six percent
overall but 19 percent of young voters. In Nevada, where he got 14 percent
of the vote, he got 19 percent of the young vote. There is a pattern
developing here.

The media can try to ignore
or muzzle Ron Paul and the Republican Party can do so as well. But in
a little-noticed speech on January 18, Mississippi Republican Governor
Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee,
admitted that the Republican Party was too “top-down” and has to
become a “bottom-up” party again. By those at the “bottom,”
he is presumably referring to actual people and voters, the so-called

Whatever they may think of
his views on this or that issue, Ron Paul’s success can be traced
to the grass-roots. Mike Huckabee, who has emphasized moral purpose
and values, is another grassroots phenomenon. He came from virtually
nowhere to win the Iowa caucuses. While his fund-raising has not been
as successful as Paul’s, he says that each quarter of his fundraising
has outperformed the previous one. On Monday, black conservatives concerned
about the country’s cultural collapse are holding a press conference
in Washington, D.C. to urge Huckabee to stay in the race to the end.

One of them, black conservative
activist Star Parker, says, “Inside-the-beltway Republicans have lost
touch with the increasing seriousness with which heartland conservatives
relate to the traditional values agenda.” Don Scoggins, a veteran
GOP activist and president of Republicans for Black Empowerment, says
that “regardless of his bank account,” they will keep fighting for

One has money, and the other
may run out of money eventually. They are not the current front-runners.
But it looks like Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee are in the race to stay
because of their grassroots support. By trying to ignore or marginalize
these serious and important candidates, the media demonstrate their
bias and elitism.

The result of this media malpractice
will be growing public awareness that our democratic form of government
is increasingly at risk because the people are being denied important
information about the candidates and the issues.