For the purposes of this article, I will be referring to the media as they, not we.
The 2008 Presidential election has presented some new problems with the electoral process. No longer is the media catering to the thought of “fair and balanced” reporting (Regardless of what Rupert Murdoch and FOX News tell you); rather they are supplying America with the information they think Americans want.
Turn on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News and watch it for about 30 minutes during their election coverage. What do you see? Someone who works for either Hillary Clinton’s campaign or Barack Obama’s campaign, followed shortly by someone who works for John McCain’s campaign or Mitt Romney’s campaign. This is nothing new.
Sure now those four are the front-runners, but they weren’t the only ones running a month ago, yet they received far more television coverage than the other candidates. Even still there are viable candidates on the ballot who receive close to zero media coverage. It was even evident in the South Carolina Democratic Debate held Jan. 21. John Edwards continually had to voice up to make his opinion known as Clinton and Obama bickered back and forth.
But even before this debate, some of the first presidential debates included plenty of faces but not much face time for the likes of Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, and Mike Gravel (Gravel is still running mind you and hosting alternative debates). These candidates continually struggled for face time when up against the “big three” (Clinton, Obama, Edwards). The lack of face time was something Edwards finally got to experience in his final debate in South Carolina.
Back to Gravel: He is the only Democrat not named Hillary or Barack who is still in the Democratic primary race. Why is he not featured in any debates? Sure he has some outlandish presidential ads (Watch Mike Gravel throw a rock and stare you down), but isn’t he granted the same rights to the airwaves as front runners Clinton and Obama? OK, so one half of 1 percent doesn’t equal a lot of support, but how much of that has to do with the invisibility of Gravel? Look at Ron Paul; he was not that popular and pushed ABC to allow him to partake in the New Hampshire Debate. Paul pulled 14 percent in Nevada and 10 percent in Iowa. He found a niche market with his isolationist message. The same could be said about Gravel if he were offered the chance to tell the public what he believes.
The Republicans were no different. How often did you hear a news story about Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo or Alan Keyes (Yup, good ol’ Mr. Keyes is running once again. He must not have any money)? The media ordained Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani the front-runners way back in 2007 and never looked back. It didn’t matter that Giuliani never pulled anything higher than 15 percent in Florida, the state in which he spent nearly his entire campaign. After that, Rudy had to call it quits, and the media turned to the Romney-McCain debates. Mike Huckabee has faded into the background since Iowa, and Paul is just being Paul – the on-going punch line for the remaining candidates in debates.
America, and more important the media, has become so obsessed with electing the first female or first black president that we have let the other candidates fade into the fray. And the worst part about America’s newfound tolerance? The fact that once a day, one media outlet or another runs a story entitled: “Is America Ready for a Black President?” or “Is America Ready for a Woman President?” Come on! If people are voting for them and their race/sex seems to have little effect on the way Americans vote then America IS ready. Americans care about the issues, not about the color of one’s skin or one’s gender (at least I hope so). Stop making something out of nothing! The media need to stop trying to create stories and report on news.
Twenty-four hour news coverage has ruined journalism in America. To report things all day, every day is hard. I will give them that, but it doesn’t mean you should sway away from journalism and venture into opinions from stupid people on stupid issues. Issues like what kind of pants suit Hillary Clinton was wearing, or if she was possibly showing a little too much cleavage. Doesn’t watching things like that almost make you want to take away people’s right to free speech?
Through our news coverage, our presidential candidates have eerily become celebrity. Before debates, candidates stand around and smile for a couple minutes to pose for pictures for the traveling press. Is this what Ben Franklin imagined in 1776? Did Thomas Jefferson envision the president as the ultimate celebrity when he penned the Declaration of Independence? Would George Washington pose for the traveling press? Did any of the Founding Fathers think that one day America would be given the choice between a black man or a woman for president? Probably not, and the fact that we’ve reached that point should make us proud. For glamorizing them, dissecting their wardrobes and over analyzing every possible action and everything that comes out of their mouths, we should be ashamed.
What do you think? Are the media justified to talk about Hillary Clinton’s pants suit but rarely speak on the color or brand of Barack Obama’s suit? Have American elections become one big red carpet event? Has election coverage become too watered down? Are the issues merely a subsidiary of the candidate’s likability and wardrobe? Would the Founding Fathers be spinning in their graves if they saw the 2008 election and how it is being run? Tell me what YOU think. Rant back!