In the aftermath of the Iowa Straw Poll, the mainstream media glorified Michelle Bachmann’s win. She appeared on 5 major television programs the day after and was hailed as 1 of the 3 top tier candidates along with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and this was rightfully so – at least the Bachmann part. Although Bachmann and other candidates – including Paul – provided incentives for their prospective voters to attend the event and vote for them, she won and did not break any known rules in doing so. However, the media’s coverage of the aftermath largely left Ron Paul‘s close second place finish unmentioned. They basically made him disappear. So, what gives?
Perhaps had it not been for Jon Stewart – who is, ironically, a liberal – the media’s ignorance and marginalization of Paul would have gone virtually unchecked. While the Internet was abuzz with the shabby treatment of Ron Paul, that is nothing new. Stewart seemingly forced mainstream media coverage of their own biases. His show following the Poll featured him lambasting the media for their treatment of Dr. Paul and their elevation of candidates who lost to a candidate that dropped out of the race following the poll – Tim Pawlenty. Stewart, who has a sizable audience, undoubtedly forced the hand of several media outlets, who could no longer ignore the issue of being silent about Ron Paul with a major figure calling them out on it. Now, outlets such as CBS, the New York Times, and even foreign media sources have either brought this issue into the mainstream or have made veiled attempts at covering for their own shady business.
I actually joked with several friends that, if Ron Paul came in second – which is what many expected – the headlines would read something like, “Bachman wins Iowa Straw Poll – (insert relevant candidate) comes in third.” Sure enough, I found numerous headlines that stated variations of that line. You can find a few of those here, here, here, and here. In Orwellian terms, this all amounts to Dr. Paul becoming an unperson of sorts, whereby a person is essentially erased from existence in the thoughts of the population. In other words, you are not permitted to think about Ron Paul. While not literally true, it is strangely similar to the way some were treated under Joseph Stalin, who essentially erased the existence of politically inconvenient figures, removing them from photos and such after they were executed. At least Ron Paul is still alive, though!
So, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this. Why is Ron Paul being largely ignored? There is no clear answer to this, but something smells fishy. Some cite that there is a conspiracy to keep Ron Paul out of office, as too many powerful people have too much to lose if he gets into office. Logically speaking, this argument has some merit. With the thousands of different media sources – newspapers, websites, television, etc. – you may not have realized that a majority of the media is under the control of a few corporations. General Electric and Comcast own most of the shares in NBC and GE owns significant portions of MSNBC and a plethora of other television stations. Walt Disney owns ABC, ESPN, plenty of other television stations, and 277 radio stations. News Corp. has holdings in Fox, Fox Business, other television networks, the Wall Street Journal, and Marketwatch.com. Time Warner’s holdings include too many media sources to name, but a major 1 in relation to this issue is CNN. Viacom has holdings include MTV and BET, both of which provide some level of news in addition to their other programs. CBS owns CBS, CBS Radio (130 stations), plenty of other media sources, and is the leading provider to Google’s Video Marketplace. As you can see, the power to decide what the American people read and hear about ultimately rests with a very small number of people or, as many would call them, the establishment. Whether they are actually scheming together or have made independent decisions to keep Dr. Paul on the fringes , it is logical to conclude that the power players in these corporations do not favor a man of Paul’s small government beliefs and voting record.
Another argument – commonly cited in the mainstream media – is that Ron Paul is unelectable. While I might have agreed with this in 2008 on grounds that he did not have enough name recognition and that Americans were not ready to shift to his brand of small government, times are significantly different now. Ron Paul picked up a lot of momentum in his failed bid for the White House in 2008 and has continued it ever since. He is now a nationally known figure and has been on numerous television and radio stations due to his accurate predictions and analysis regarding the financial meltdown of 2008 and the aftermath since then. He has a strong base and finished with 152 less votes that Michelle Bachman in the Iowa Straw Poll. Yet, at the end of the day, the big 3 were Perry – who entered the race on the same day and did not participate in any debates or straw polls, Bachmann – who is easily the most deserved of the so-called top-tier, and Mitt Romney, who opted out of all remaining straw polls and is seemingly running on the media‘s push to give him the Republican nomination.
Also, in contradiction to the theory of not being electable is fact that Paul has polled nearly even with President Obama in several hypothetical head-to-head polls. Paul has the support of the Republican Party’s libertarian wing, Libertarians, and Independents. Paul has even drawn support from so-called “Blue Republicans”, who are in fact Democrats that plan to change over to the Republican Party to vote for him. This assertion that Ron Paul is unelectable is, at best, a flawed theory and perhaps an attempt to marginalize his campaign out of the running for the upcoming election. In either case, the voters deserve honesty and unbiased reporting regarding all candidates, not just those who they favor. Calling someone unelectable becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy to the unsuspecting voter and is flat out wrong when used in regard to a candidate that has proven he can compete in the big leagues.
Apathy among a sizable portion of the voting populace is another issue that Ron Paul is facing in connection with his virtual media blackout. It seems that he is falling victim to rational ignorance. The media is able to get away with marginalizing Ron Paul because the average person does not care enough to overcome his or her bias. How many people actually dig up the facts before they choose a candidate? How many people are willing to look past the headlines and the pundits to develop their own fact-based opinions of each candidate? Sadly, not enough, as each person’s vote is extremely unlikely to be the deciding vote – thereby leading to what is known as rational ignorance.
Say what you want about Ron Paul, he is perhaps the most honest politician out there. Just listen to him when he speaks on television programs and particularly at debates. While the rest of the candidates offer canned responses and talk to Americans as if they are 10 years old, Paul explains his positions with concise logic and does not tell you what you want to hear – but what you need to hear. He may not have the smile or cool factor of Barack Obama, the personality of Rick Perry, or the Presidential aura of Mitt Romney, but he is a rare politician in that he is not for sale and backs up his words with actions. How many candidates like that can you say you’ve come across in your lifetime? Probably not many. I issue this challenge to any person who reads this: take some time to research each candidate before you make a decision. Whether you ultimately decide that Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, or some other candidate is the best, make sure you actually know what he or she stands for and has done in the past. The last time people did not do so was in 2008, when Obama‘s smile and rhetoric awarded him legions of fans. Where has that gotten us now?