Ron Paul and the MSM


LONESOME? Want to make a boatload of new friends, fast? I have a simple, surefire method.
    Step 1: Start a blog. You can do this in minutes, and for free, at a number of sites on the Web.
    Step 2: Post something on your blog with “Ron Paul” in the headline.
    Caveat: Make it something nice, or all those new people who come rushing to you will be something other than “friends.”
    As you may have heard, there is a whole alternative universe full of people who spend large amounts of time Googling their one and only, and eagerly reading anything they find. Many are political first-timers, either because they’re quite young or because they gave up on mainstream candidates long ago. They are the reason why Dr. Paul has raised great gobs of money, despite his support in polls tending toward the single digits.
    This does not discourage or deter the libertarian’s following, but one thing does sort of cheese them off: What they perceive as a general lack of respect from the MSM, a.k.a. “mainstream media.” In stories about who might win this or that primary, their guy’s name doesn’t even come up.
    Last week on my blog (where I really must stop engaging in the cheap, traffic-boosting ploy of putting “Ron Paul” into random headlines), in the midst of a discussion among Paulistas, “Alex” earnestly asked me, “Brad — what do you think of the main media’s a) coverage and b) depiction of Ron Paul? Fair in both respects or less so?”
    A two-parter, as we might say in the MSM. My response got one encouraging comment, which is all I need to provoke me to reproduce it here. It went like this:
    I’d say, on both counts, it’s about par.
    On the whole, there is a shameful tendency of news media to try to oversimplify the race. The press, and the TV cowboys, like politics to be like sports, which means everything is couched in terms of winning, losing and whether the coach called the right play, and there are never, ever more than two teams on the field at a given time.
    This means anointing two people in each race as the “front-runners,” and giving everybody else short shrift. This, of course, is appalling, especially when the most qualified candidates don’t make the short list, and that’s at least as often the case as not.
    Look at the Democrats. It was decreed via the great colonial beast’s collective “mind” that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were it. Never mind that the experience and qualifications for the two of them combined fell short of that of Joe Biden or Bill Richardson — or Chris Dodd, if you’re hard-up…. This is not to say either Hillary or Obama is a bad candidate, mind you; there’s something to be said forPaul2
sheer electoral appeal. Hillary’s got the Clinton fan club in her pocket, and Obama’s got that certain something called “charisma.” I’m just saying it’s ridiculous that Biden and Richardson have never been given a chance.
    On the Republican side, the MSM have been confused. They’ve wanted in the worst way to have Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney be the anointed twosome, or maybe Fred Thompson. But the facts that John McCain is more experienced than any of them, and that Mike Huckabee actually has qualities that appeal to key portions of the base (unlike any of the chosen ones) have led to what you’ll sometimes see the MSM refer to as “confusion” or “a muddle.” And the MSM don’t like confusion. They like clarity, and polarization,Rudyrockette
and a good fight. Giuliani’s a scrapper (and just loaded with personal idiosyncracies that make great copy); and Romney can have a knock-down dragout just with himself.
    In light of these factors, Dr. Paul is far down the list of people who are likely to get major respect. As I say, the MSM like it simple. If they can’t keep the number down to two, then they assign simple, stock-character roles to other players. Dr. Paul has been assigned the role of Quirky Outsider Without a Prayer, a role filled with some gusto on the Democratic side by Dennis Kucinich.
    Except that Dr. Paul is even more of an outsider. Dennis the Menace, after all, is a sort of double-distilled version of a liberal Democrat. Dr. Paul is not seen by any of the major players as any kind of a Republican.
    While the MSM as a whole have the attention span of a goldfish — they find endless fascination in thePeople_lohan_wart
serial misbehavior of well-built young women with substance-abuse problems — the guys on the political beat can be like the sports guys. That is, they can have long memories, especially for electoral trivia.
    To political writers, Ron Paul is the 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for president, and he’ll never outgrow that role. To some extent, he doesn’t seem to want to outgrow that role. He’s the same guy, believing and espousing the same things. To his followers, this consistency, this adherence to principle, is admirable in the extreme. To the press, it makes him a dependable eccentric.
    Dr. Paul’s one hope to get Serious Attention lies in his other role, that of This Year’s Internet Phenom. You’ll remember that role was filled by another physician, Howard Dean, in 2004. Unfortunately for Dr. Paul, the role lacks the freshness that it had when Dr. Dean created it. For a moment there four years ago, the MSM thought it was on the cusp of a genuine Paradigm Shift, where a guy with a passionate cyber-following and impressive fund-raising capabilities would actually sweep aside the front-runners and win it all. But that didn’t happen, and the MSM is uninclined to get swept up in such enthusiasm a second time.
    I don’t know if any of that helped, but I did what I could to answer the question. Now, back to the front-runners…

18 thoughts on “Ron Paul and the MSM

  1. Mark G.

    I personally disagree that Ron Paul’s coverage has been fair for this reason: he dominates the rest of the field in straw polling. I remember back in the 2000 Bush run, we were innundated with stories about Bush’s momentum thanks to the straw polls that he’d win. These days, you almost never hear about these straw polls. It’s almost as though they’re not happening at all.
    I’d love to hear someone explain away this phenomenon, if for no other reason than to get a good chuckle over it.
    I believe that we’re going to blow America away during the primaries and especially the caucuses.

  2. chris matthews

    “As you may have heard, there is a whole alternative universe full of people who spend large amounts of time Googling their one and only, and eagerly reading anything they find.”
    guilty. I think of it as doing my part.

  3. leanne

    Hey, perhaps you could write about a real story. A Ron Paul meet up leader in Florida complained to Tony DiMatteo about the blatent cheating going on at the Florida Straw Poll. Romney bought stacks and stacks of tickets for his supporters, who then, without shame voted over and over.(one voter voted 20 times). Anyhow when she complained to the REC she was told to drop it, or she’d end up hurt. One other thing, many were complaining about the voting machines. Apparently, when you voted for your candidate, Romneys name showed up on the screen. If the REC is willing to threaten people over a rigged straw poll, what the heck is going to happen once the primaries are underway?Hell, if someone is desperate enough to rig a straw poll, apparently with the REC’s blessing, it makes me concerned about the primaries.Please report on this.

  4. TheOneLaw

    In return for such an evenhanded treatment of the subject, here is a tip which you may find interesting.
    There exists a magnificent difference between the Dean campaign and the Ron Paul campaign which drives his rising status:
    The Dean campaign was a central command and control effort which tended to squelch the creative and spontaneous grassroots efforts.
    The Paul campaign is organized from the bottom up (as any true libertarian effort would be) and this unleashes far more passion than any other campaign style could ever muster.
    This difference attracts Ron Paul supporters like no one has ever seen and translates into a broader exposure base – the supporters own the candidate and this is a potent fuel.
    Just my contribution…

  5. Gordon Hirsch

    In keeping with the MSM horse-race approach to election coverage, I think we should start a pool right now on how many Paulista posts this rehash will attract. I’m picking 31. … Who’s else is in?

  6. Karen McLeod

    Shame on you for maligning innocent goldfish! They are more thoughtful, and more attentive to important matters (important to them) than the MSM, as a whole, ever thought of being.

  7. Karen McLeod

    Gordon, My guess is at least 47. Libertarians may be incredibly self-centered people, but they surely do track ‘their candidate’!

  8. Gordon Hirsch

    Karen … Agreed. And it definitely goes way beyond “tracking” their candidate, given the vitriol directed at Brad so far. (Your pick of 47 is duly recorded).
    Mark G. … your wishes are admirable, but a genie would probably be a better bet in this case.

  9. weldon VII

    The more Brad demonizes Ron Paul, the more interested I become.
    I’m almost interested enough now to make a moderate effort to find out where he’s coming from.

  10. Doug Ross

    Brad seems to have forgotten that in 2000, John McCain was the darling of the mainstream media.. the maverick… the Straight Talk Express… the frontrunner.
    Then what happened? The public decided that George Bush was a better candidate. McCain got beat – both at the ballot box and behind the scenes by the Republican machine.
    He has zero chance now of being President. You do realize he has burned through $30 million dollars through the end of September as compared to Paul’s $8 million? And that Paul will blow the doors off every other candidate for the October-December period? When the wheels of the Straight Talk Express are falling off in four weeks, Ron Paul will be in it for the long run by running a campaign based on fiscal sanity and a message of freedom – versus McCain’s drunken sailor spending spree and a message of “stay the course” in the Bush doctrine.
    So don’t blame the mainstream media for McCain’s failings… he lost it himself.

  11. Ronald Abrams

    You have confirmed that the Mainstream Media selects our presidential candidates. Dr. Paul just may change all of this as We The People have NO representation in the MSM..only our multicultural elite handlers contol the MSM..Paul’s message also is MUCH different from Howard Dean and the Dems…then and NOW!
    Ron Paul WILL expose all of this come Republican primary/convention time.
    Thanks for your exposure of the MSM for what it is and what you are a part of,too!

  12. weldon VII

    OK, I would say “demonizes” is hyperbole, but you liken Paul to Dennis Kucinich, the Democrats’ Whitley Strieber candidate, and Howard Dean, who went berserk on camera while he was running for president.
    Seems to me those comparisons fit the “represent as a demon” usage of “demonize.”
    Dean certainly seemed demonic when he had his fit back when.
    And Kucinich, well, he has alienated himself (note pun) in more ways than one.

  13. James D McCallister

    He means “marginalizes”, Brad.
    Still waiting for a link to Dennis Kucinich on the left side of this page. You’ve got links to the wingnut Tom Tancredos of the campaign, why not Dennis? He’s got as much of a chance as Duncan Hunter or Chris Dodd, for heaven’s sake.

  14. Wally Altman

    Brad, this was a good choice for a column. I can’t help but notice that you put Ron Paul’s name in the title yet again, but then again this is your most interesting Paul post thus far, so I can’t really grudge it.
    The only way I can see anything you wrote here as “demonizing” Ron Paul is where you note that he’s not really a Republican, which I suppose could be taken as a slight by hyper-partisan Republican types.
    One last thought; I enjoyed the picture of Rudy in drag, but did you really have to include that photo of Lindsay Lohan?

  15. Brad

    Well written for someone who seems to prefer the status quo.
    I would hope that people might actually return to the base principles this country was founded on. We Do Need Government; Just not so much at the Federal Level.
    I did my part to understand where Ron Paul derives his stands; I would hope that all Americans would do the same as an education in what this country was based upon.
    We are far from where we were.
    The Message Is More Important Than The Man !!!
    Socialism Sucks !!!
    I vote for Core Character; I Vote For Ron Paul !!!

  16. Brad Warthen

    Thanks, Brad — love the name, by the way — and here’s something we can agree on: “We Do Need Government; Just not so much at the Federal Level.”
    You know, the only place I ever have libertarian sentiments is when I’m in Washington. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the marble building, the huge sense of scale L’Enfant employed in laying out the place — all those neo-imperial trimmings. That stuff doesn’t bother me. I figure a great country deserves a grand stage.
    What gets me is what I see around me on the subway, and waiting at the metro stations. I look around, and I see too much money in that town. Some work for the government; but an awful lot of them are employed by the private sector. And it’s then that you think, maybe it would be a good thing if there wasn’t so much riding on what happens in this town, from the point of view of the big-money people who send all of THESE people there to work for them…

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