The Iowa Winner We’re Supposed to Ignore

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on August 17, 2011 0 Comments

It’s been an eventful week in election politics and journalism. The big stories of Bachmann’s win at Ames and Rick Perry’s formal announcement are very newsworthy and have been amply covered. But something equally important has been almost entirely ignored. The media’s omissions, distortions, and falsehoods regarding Ron Paul and his essential tie for first place in the Ames Straw poll is a dereliction of duty.

No one in particular can be signaled out for this epic failure. FOX News is as guilty as any of the “liberal” media. Ironically, one of the few to point this problem out is Jon Stewart, in this must-see, hilarious segment:

Of course, Stewart isn’t the only non-”Paulbot”  to take notice. See Paul Simon’s article in Politico. Or check out Brent Budowsky from the Hill.

Then there’s Glenn Greenwald, one of my favorite journalists (even though he’s pretty left wing and usually off-base on economic issues). His article posted yesterday is worth reading in its entirety, but I will just quote some of the relevant portions here:

[C]overage of these presidential campaigns… are also vital in bolstering orthodoxies and narrowing the range of permitted views.  Few episodes demonstrate how that works better than the current disappearing of Ron Paul, all but an “unperson” in Orwellian terms.  He just finished a very close second to Michele Bachmann in the Ames poll, yet while she went on all five Sunday TV shows and dominated headlines, he was barely mentioned.  He has raised more money than any GOP candidate other than Romney, and routinely polls in the top 3 or 4 of GOP candidates in national polls, yet — as Jon Stewart and Politico‘s Roger Simon have both pointed out — the media have decided to steadfastly pretend he does not exist, leading to absurdities like this:

And this:

There are many reasons why the media is eager to disappear Ron Paul despite his being a viable candidate by every objective metric.  Unlike the charismatic Perry and telegenic Bachmann, Paul bores the media with his earnest focus on substantive discussions.  There’s also the notion that he’s too heterodox for the purist GOP primary base, though that was what was repeatedly said about McCain when his candidacy was declared dead.

But what makes the media most eager to disappear Paul is that he destroys the easy, conventional narrative — for slothful media figures and for Democratic loyalists alike.  Aside from the truly disappeared former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (more on him in a moment), Ron Paul is far and away the most anti-war, anti-Surveillance-State, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party.  How can the conventional narrative of extremist/nationalistic/corporatist/racist/warmongering GOP v. the progressive/peaceful/anti-corporate/poor-and-minority-defending Democratic Party be reconciled with the fact that a candidate with those positions just virtually tied for first place among GOP base voters in Iowa?  Not easily, and Paul is thus disappeared from existence…

…The steadfast ignoring of Ron Paul — and the truly bizarre un-personhood of Gary Johnson — has ensured that, yet again, those views will be excluded and the blurring of partisan lines among ordinary citizens on crucial issues will be papered over.  That’s precisely the opposite effect that a healthy democratic election would produce.

So what is it? Has the media conspired to oppose the truly independent Republican candidate in the race? Or is it a less nefarious motive that is keeping the mainstream media from doing its job?

I think it is mainly the latter. The mainstream media is comprised of people that are dedicated to the status quo: that is, ideologies based in nationalism (as opposed to federalism) and statism. This dedication also comes from the nature of their jobs (an independent journalist who ventures out of the three inch wide left/right continuum is a rare specimen, and that’s not by chance).

Ron Paul is the opposite of the media/political world view. It should almost be expected that most of them want to downplay Paul’s victory and repress discussion about the ideas he brings to the table. Doing their job right has become less important than promoting their agenda, which Paul is a real threat to now.

When Paul does manage to get some attention, the “Ron Paul Can’t Win…” excuse is invariably trotted out. It may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if enough voters buy the propaganda. Every time you hear it, replace can’t with shouldn’t. It’s still just a statist-quo wish at this point, not a fact.

The truth is, four clear front runners emerged this week, and one of them is Ron Paul. The others- of course- are Romney, Perry, and Bachmann. The departure of so-called major candidate Tim Pawlenty draws a line in the sand- those who polled lower than him in Ames now have a much higher barrier to cross if their campaigns should be taken as a serious attempt to win the nomination.

What do you think of this? Have you noticed it? Does it bother (or enrage!) you- whether or not you support Dr. Paul?

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"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root." -Henry David Thoreau

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