Where the Heck is Ron Paul? A Media Boycott Heats Up

It struck me this morning (well, it struck me many times before, but this morning it was just too much). I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. The report (listen here) on tonight’s GOP debate covered just about everything you can cover in four-and-a-half minutes: The debate’s focus on the economy, deficit, tax reform, and entitlements; Sarah Palin’s and Chris Christie’s exit from the race; Herman Cain’s from-the-outside strategy; Mitt Romney’s 25% ceiling; and of course his “Mormon problem” as raised by Rick Perry—“this is something we’re watching,” said Mara Liasson, NPR’s national political correspondent. I mean, come on. She also spent some time on how Perry is preparing for the debate to make up ground he lost in the last three debates. OK, great, we need to know this.

But where the heck is Ron Paul?

He is the one who did well in those debates. He won the most recent straw poll. He raised $8 million in the last three months from over 100,000 supporters. He is not some Tom, Dick, and Harry. He is a real candidate, unlike Palin, who dropped out, but he doesn’t even get mentioned as a participant.

You don’t need to be a supporter of him to be outraged. Even a Perry supporter or an ardent Democrat who listened to this report would want to know that there is a legitimate candidate named Ron Paul who will participate in the debate, and who will, if past record is any indication, do well. A democracy needs accurate news coverage to function properly. And when coverage fails so miserably time and again, we need to … do more research.

So the Wall Street Journal ran a longish front-page piece this morning, “Debates Take Candidates for a Bumpy Ride.” But Paul is not mentioned. Not even in a side bar. He just doesn’t exist.

And the New York Times? Well, it ran a front-page article, “Five Things to Watch for in the G.O.P. Debate.” And only towards the bottom, it forces itself to mention Paul, but in a parenthetical remark between dashes: “Mrs. Bachmann is likely to be joined by the others on the stage — Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum — in assailing Mr. Obama’s administration….”

In yesterday’s article on the debate, the NYT doesn’t mention Paul at all in the text. He is relegated to an info box on the left sidebar under “Participants.”

And when the NYT does mention Paul prominently, it’s because there is no way of avoiding it without giving up any pretense of impartiality: “Ron Paul Wins Conference Straw Poll, to No One’s Surprise” (article). But rather than discussing his ideas, it describes how that victory was contrived by busing in tons of college students.

And a shocker. On October 5, the NYT reported on the fund-raising status in a fairly long article, published at 9:33 am. It discusses Perry’s $17-million haul, other candidates, and even President Obama. Missing? You guessed it.

Somebody must have raised a ruckus. And so at 1:52 pm, four hours and twenty minutes after the original article, the NYT ran a short article on Paul’s $8 million he raised from over 100,000 donors. A forced after-thought that must have left the editors a bitter taste in their collective mouths for the rest of the day.

The WSJ and NYT are the largest newspapers in the country, but the list goes on ad infinitum. Why can’t they report on Paul’s ideas? They report on the ideas of just about all other candidates. Why can’t they at least include him in their coverage of our democratic processes? They don’t have to praise him or agree with him. Or are they afraid of his ideas?

His opposition to the Fed might be part of it. The heavily leveraged companies that own the status-quo media outlets—Fed-billions recipient GE, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the New York Times Company, etc.—must have access to unlimited flows of essentially free money to keep their empires afloat. Whatever their reasons, their boycott further tarnishes what little remains of their reputations as reliable new sources.

Which is a shame. In a democracy that wants to be vibrant, all major candidates deserve the attention of the news media, and not just of the blogosphere.

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