Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
Ron Paul's Media Disappearing Act
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 03:02 PM
In the wake of Ron Paul's narrow loss to Michele Bachmann in last weekend's Ames Iowa Republican straw poll, a media meta-narrative has emerged: why is the media deliberately ignoring Ron Paul? We took a look at reaction from around the web for some insight.
The criticism that seems to have started an avalanche of "Ron Paul coverage" coverage appeared Monday on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart pointed out that the media narrative is that Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney comprise the "top tier" of potential republican presidential nominees. This in spite of the fact that Perry and Romney finished 6th and 7th respectively (although Romney skipped the straw poll entirely and Perry, late to announce his presidency, was a write-in candidate.) Stewart likened Ron Paul to the unmentionable 13th floor in a hotel.
Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic agrees that there is a TV bias against Ron Paul, saying that while he believes that Paul might have some extreme policy positions "[he'd] sure prefer him to a lot of other candidates, whose craziest stances never seem to be held against them."
Politico media reporter Keach Hagey gathers further evidence, pointing out that aside from a couple of newspapers, Paul has received nary a mention in the print world as well. She also interviews Paul's campaign manager Jesse Benton, who says that the Paul campaign has been denied spots on all of the major Sunday news shows. She also touches on a grassroots campaign by Paul supporters to flood the inboxes and voicemails of people they see as marginalizing the candidate.
A report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released yesterday backs up claims of media neglect, noting that "From January 1-August 14, Paul has been a dominant newsmaker in only 27 campaign stories," trailing even Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, neither of whom have actually declared their intention to run.
The Christian Science Monitor speculate that Stewart's segment might have actually given the Paul campaign a boost. It is certainly possible, but the narrative of his coverage this week has been more about his lack of coverage than it has about his platform as a candidate. And in spite of the speculation, it is careful to mention that "[the media] ignore him because he has little chance of winning or expanding his base beyond the relatively small number of Americans who agree with him that relinking the dollar to gold would be a good thing."
In fact, Ron Paul's inability to win seems to be the most often repeated justification for the lack of coverage. Slate's Dave Weigel thinks that in spite of popular support in the Ames straw poll, the media is simply focusing its reporting on the people they believe have an actual chance of winning the primary. He uses the always handy football metaphor by way of explanation: