If you happened to catch the Daily Show with John Stewart on Tuesday night, you probably caught Stewart point out an interesting disparity – the complete and utter lack of coverage by the news media of a major Republican candidate.
If you can’t spare the four minutes and 20 seconds to watch it (Come on! It takes more time to cook and eat a hot pocket!), here’s a recap: basically Stewart, through the miracle of editing clips from various cable news channels highlights the seemingly intentional shunning of Rep. Ron Paul, even though he came in a strong second in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. And not just by Fox New (whose coverage of Iowa has been extensive), but MSNBC and CNN as well.
It’s understandable that those within the Republican Party (Fox News) aren’t enthralled by the doctor turned Congressman from Texas. Never afraid to speak his mind, Paul has been a major critic of both the Iraq and Afghan wars. And while he’s considered the modern ideological forefather of the Tea Party movement’s small government and smaller federal budget philosophy – even refusing to participate in the Congressional pension system because it used taxpayer money – he clashes with the GOP majority on other major political viewpoint –just watch this video where he’s asked to respond to Mitt Romney’s line that “corporations are people too.”
Quite frankly, Paul is, to borrow a previous GOP Presidential candidate’s favorite self-descriptive phrase, a maverick. And thus doesn’t always agree with the average Republican. But it’s not like Paul is completely foreign to the party. He and the GOP went though their presidential nomination courtship before in the 2008 primary and the party found him wanting. While he can galvanize a dedicated group of supporters to give him big numbers to pull off impressive victories in Republican nomination precursors, like CPAC, Paul just hasn’t been able to enchant the rank and file party members.
Simply put: Ron Paul can’t get the entire Republican Party’s support.
And that’s reason enough for the non-Republican media like CNN or MSNBC. Their view is that if Ron Paul is a forgone-conclusion NOT to get the Presidential nomination, then why bother paying attention to him? While Fox News anchors just view Paul as their cross to bear in order to find the real Republican candidate.
That then raises the question of whether or not the media’s decision not to cover Paul because he can’t get enough support is the reason he can’t enough support.
But maybe the real problem is that American politics (or at least the media that covers it) have come to an all or nothing point in regard to coverage. That because a candidate can’t win the nomination his or her voice doesn’t need to be heard, their stance on issues doesn’t need to be considered, or they don’t need to be debated. Whether or not you agree with Ron Paul on any or none of his positions, he still deserves to be considered, in spite of the fact (or maybe even because of it) the he’s, in his own word, not part of the status quo.
And the sad part is that after this election season, he’s gone. But hopefully not forgotten.
[Pic via Flickr – Gage Skidmore]