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News coverage and the candidates

By greydmiyu in Media
Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:58:48 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

I know, I know, not another American Political story. Trust me, this one is not though it looks like it is. Simply put, anyone else mad at the media coverage of all the cadidates in this American election? There were six parties running, can you name them all? Can you name their candidates?

Every work day for the past several months I have listened to NPR during my commute to and from work. Anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes per leg. One to two hours per day.

Every day I'd here where Gore and Bush were campaigning that day. I'd hear what their stump speeches contained. I'd hear political pundants and experts in different fields of political endeavor pour over these appearances and offer their commentary and opinions on how they felt the election would turn out.

So let's do some math, shall we? Let's take the last three months, from August to October, and see what that means.

12 weeks x 5 workdays per week x 1.5 hours per day = 90 hours of broadcast time devoted to Bush and Gore. So let's call it 45 hours for each candidate.

Is it any wonder, then, than Nader got less than 5% of the vote, Buchanan and Browne both 1%? What is worse is that I, a member of a third party, am unable to call off the top of my head Nader's running mate, Buchanan's running mate, nor the ticket of the Natural Law party and the Constitution party. Translation of that; I am more informed than most people are of alternatives to Bush and Gore yet not even I can identify all of them!

90 hours of time devoted to the two major candidates. I feel that is excessive. During that entire 90 hours they never once swung my vote nor did they ever really change their platform. After the first dozen or so hours we knew what those two candidates were about, I don't think we needed another 70+ hours of the same. The only opinion of mine that has come out of it was that it is obvious to me that some of that time could have been given to coverage of the third parties, no matter their size. They are running for the office, they got on the ballot, they should be covered! This goes doubly for every time the news outlets would talk about the "undecided voters".

What is even worse is the incomplete reporting done even now by major news sources. A quick look at CNN shows incomplete coverage. For example, there are no national totals for all major parties. In California they report on only two of five ballot measures that were voted upon last night. I'm sure most other states had more than two ballot measures as well. Even more telling are the icons for each candidate. We have D for Democrat, R for Republican, G for Green, RF for Reform and I for Libertarian, Constitution and Natural Law. In short, the couldn't spend the 5 minutes to make an L, a C and an N or NL icon to reflect those parties? They couldn't add another couple dozen bytes per ballot measure so members of those states can see the results? Apparently not.

So, what can be done about it? What steps can be taken to let the American media know that their reporting, when looked upon in such light, is biased and unfair to legitimate candidates? How do other nations' media decide who does and does not get coverage with the plethora of political parties present in their system? Is there something in those systems that can be shown to the American media moguls that might get some decent coverage out in the future?


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Should the media have vedoted more time to all third party candidates?
o Yes 72%
o No 8%
o Shaddap ya 'Merikan! 19%

Votes: 105
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by greydmiyu

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News coverage and the candidates | 43 comments (21 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
You call that a democracy? (2.50 / 6) (#1)
by Tim Locke on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:35:58 AM EST

How democratic is it when the little guy gets shutout? Sure, he probably won't win, but doesn't he deserve equal opportunity? Besides, if other parties never get media time, how will the US ever become more than a two party system? Does any think having only two parties is preferable?
--- On the Internet, no one knows you're using a VIC-20.
I call that a democracy (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by DemiGodez on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 02:33:16 PM EST

The U.S. isn't just a democracy. It's also based on freedoms, like freedom of the press. What kind of country would the U.S. be if we made laws requiring the media to cover third parties? I personally have no problem with a two party system and neither do Americans. If they did, they are free to vote for a third party which very few people did.

By asking how we'll ever get a third party without media coverage, you're implying that the media has way too much influence in the elections. And if they do, then people who rely on that deserve sub-par leadership.

[ Parent ]

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (4.75 / 4) (#27)
by greydmiyu on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 04:27:05 PM EST

In the political game, esp. this election, the question is clear, the media.

You say that most Americans are happy with the 2-party system and would vote third party if they were not. This is ignorant of two common facts. First, most Americans don't vote so you cannot claim they are happy with the current system. Second, most Americans aren't aware of third parties and any time they are mentioned is in passing in some story about the major two and how the third party is causing problem in one state or another.

Buchanan's main media spotlight came from his departure from the GOP and aligning himself with the Reform Party and the Reform Party's later self-destruction because of Buchanan.

Nader's most prevailant impression upon people was usually something like this, "In Oregon, a normally Democratic state, things are now in turmoil for Gore as Bush can pull out a victory in that state thanks to Nader drawing votes away from the Deomcratic party..." They didn't mention him or his platform on its own, only his effect on "the race" as if he weren't an active participant in that race in his own right!

In its defense the media points out that there isn't a lot of interest in those parties so they don't have a need to cover them. They cite their polls as an example. If people don't know about Browne or Nader or Buchanan then they don't need to report on Browne or Nader or Buchanan. Of course until the news media reports on Browne and Nader and Buchanan the chances of them having any interest from the people is minimal.

Here's the catcher. Isn't the whole point of the news media, aside from making money, is to inform people of that which they do not know?

That is why I was appalled by the 90 hours figure I came up with over NPR's coverage of Bush/Gore. After 90 hours there is nothing new! After 20-30 hours there is nothing new! We literally do not need to know their every move every day of the campaign. There is so much more out there to report on and, oddly enough, if they actually reported on it we might not only have had a more lively campaign, but a lot more chances for real change instead of the faux change we always get. The ball truly is in the media's court.
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
Two things (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by DemiGodez on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:45:53 AM EST

1. If people don't vote they are still voicing an opinion - apathy. Anyone who does not vote loses all rights to complain about the state of the country and the need for third parties. Hell, if everyone who didn't vote voted for a third party it would be a first party.

2. It is not the media's job to do people's civic duty for them. Sure they are there to educate, but not to allow citizens to abdicate their civic duty to be informed about candidates and vote with their conscience. As I said before, anyone too lazy to research the candidates deserves sub-par leadership. And it's not like people don't know there are third parties. If they cared they would research them like so many people here have.

[ Parent ]

Reply To This (4.00 / 3) (#28)
by Devil Ducky on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 04:47:39 PM EST

I was going to Reply To This, but then I read the other comment and that covered most of my thoughts.

Democracy is not affected by the media. The media is affected by Democracy. If more people were going to vote third party, then CNN and the like will devote more time to them.

In other words, why should the media devote time to parties that 5% total will vote for? They know that the two parties are the ones that most people are interested in, and thus the most advertising revenue for telling their stories.

I do understand how your views of where the problem lies can be corrupted. Most likely you get your news, and your culture from the same type of places as me. I get my news from /., CNN, and a few other Geek-Sites, and I get my culture from K5, /., other Geeks like me, and other College aged people, and my fiance (definately not a geek). Most of what I hear, politically, involves the futility of what the 2 parties are saying, and how we should all go third party. Most people don't get these conversations, they don't feel that the current major parties have let them down any more than the other parties will, and they don't want ot hear about the other choices since they wouldn't vote for them anyway.

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
I am replying to this (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by Tim Locke on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:20:02 PM EST

Democracy is not affected by the media. The media is affected by Democracy. If more people were going to vote third party, then CNN and the like will devote more time to them.

Has it not become a catch-22? Media is affected by Democracy, which is affected by the media, which is affected by Democracy... It is not healthy.

--- On the Internet, no one knows you're using a VIC-20.
[ Parent ]
Catch 22 (2.00 / 1) (#37)
by Devil Ducky on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:54:22 PM EST

The concept of politics or anything where my life and economy is onthe line should be a catch-22. So it is healthy. Politics, Government, Economics, Marriage, Pets, Children, Taxes, etc... it is all full of loops where noone ever figures out the "best way" to do anything.

In buisness, to make money on a product you lower the price until it becomes popular, then you can raise the price (often past the original price) until you raise it too far, where you then have to lower the price...

Paying taxes, you save money this year, meaning you have more oney for them to take a percentage of next year, meaning you can have lower taxes the next year...

Marriage, if you're married or have a s/o you don't need me to explain the loops here...

It just goes on and on...

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
6 candidates... (4.50 / 6) (#8)
by Danse on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:18:34 PM EST

There were six parties running, can you name them all? Can you name their candidates?

Check out this link for a list of candidates for president. Obviously the vast majority never made it onto any ballot anywhere, but there were a lot more than 6 candidates, and there were a whole lot of parties that i bet not more than 10 people in the country have ever heard of.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
Off the top of my head (2.00 / 1) (#10)
by Biff Cool on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:35:27 PM EST

  • Dem - Gore
  • Rep - Bush
  • Green - Nader
  • Natural Law - Hagelin
  • Libertarian - Browne
  • Reform - Buchanan
  • Constitution - Phillips
  • U.S. Taxpayers - ????
  • Barking Spider Resurgence - ????
  • nine parties from memory, that last one I found out about last night, and I think I'm leaving the Greens for them.

    My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler

    [ Parent ]
Constitutional Party = Taxpayers Party (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by farmgeek on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 01:21:55 PM EST

They changed their name.

[ Parent ]
That makes more sense (none / 0) (#18)
by Biff Cool on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 02:25:52 PM EST

I wondered who the taxpayer's were, they must not have been able to change their name on the ballots.

My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler

[ Parent ]
200 Little Podiums (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by farmgeek on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:12:52 PM EST

Moderator: Candidate X, you have 1.5 seconds to explain your views on abortion, the environment, the economy, moral values, the constitution, and whatever else you can think of.

Candidate X: The consti....(Buzzer Sounds)

Moderator: I'm sorry, your time is up. Next candidate.

It is extremely easy to declare yourself a presidential candidate in the US. Only requires two Federal Elections Commission forms.

While I do agree that alternate candidates do need to be heard from, there has to be some delimiting factor as to who gets to take part in a debate. I think the reasonable thing would be to let any candidate that is on the ballot in enough states to win the electoral vote should take part in the debates. If there are still too many for a debate, perhaps a round robin type format so that they would at least have an opportunity to debate with each of their opponents.

[ Parent ]
If that were the test of who could debate... (1.00 / 1) (#25)
by greydmiyu on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:16:09 PM EST

If the possibility of winning mathematically were the test then the debates would have been between Bush, Gore, Browne, Nader with the possibility of Buchanan and Hagelin. At least those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. That would have been a far cry better than just Bush/Gore.
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
More MLP (2.00 / 1) (#26)
by interiot on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:57:42 PM EST

Here's another list, sorted by party (about 35-40). Some of them seem pretty nuts (who uses purple on yellow on their platform page?).

[ Parent ]
The media knows what side its bread is buttered on (4.66 / 9) (#17)
by Sheetrock on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 02:08:26 PM EST

CNN is owned by Time Warner. ABC is owned by Disney. NBC is owned by General Electric. CBS is owned by Westinghouse. MSNBC is jointly owned by Microsoft and General Electric. Despite NPR being 'public radio' I would be less than surprised to hear that NPR is largely funded by corporate interests, as I've heard that the majority of the funding for PBS is corporate. An increasing amount of the news in our newspapers is being filtered down from just a couple of sources (Associated Press/Reuters), each of which have seemed to focused on the dead heat between Gore and Bush. I'm starting to suspect that every radio station is owned by the same person, at least in my area, because more than once in the past I've rolled the dial through our stations and heard the same frigging 'Top 10' song playing on three of them. Could it be that the media favors Bush and Gore because either one will encourage government policies that their parent companies will benefit from? (DMCA, UCITA, the stomping of low-power radio stations, heavy military spending)

Another thought: between Bush and Gore, over $320,000,000 was raised to spend on the campaign. One wonders how much other money was pumped in from the Republican and Democrat House/Senate races that were going on at the same time. Approximately $36,000,000 was available to spend on the campaign between Buchanan, Nader, and Browne. Could the heavy bankrolls of the Republican/Democrat candidates have some subtle effect on which stories get run between the political ads?

Then again, the media might simply have been covering Bush and Gore because they felt that's where the story was. I watched Wolf Blitzer explain on a PBS program on the campaign about how he felt (in my words, since I didn't tape the thing) that these third-party candidates shouldn't feel entitled to media coverage until they do something worthy of being covered (then again, I heard many newsworthy things about the Nader campaign that never saw airtime). I couldn't help but feel that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy -- the mass media didn't feel that the third-party candidates were worthy contenders, so they didn't cover them from the start. They get Zogby to do some polls, which show that people who have only gotten information about Bush and Gore are planning on voting for Bush and Gore, then they use that as their excuse for only covering Bush and Gore because that's where the interest is.

So, in my opinion, the media is either cunning and biased or sloppy and biased. Use the Internet until they squash it.

interesting take (1.00 / 2) (#30)
by bottgeek on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:17:49 PM EST

So what you're saying is that the media shouldn't have their own freedom to cover what they want. Ra Ra freedom is what you preach as an american but yet you look down on the media for a "lack of content". Who cares? Either do something about it or shut up. Maybe even turn off your television or radio or (heaven forbid) your computer if you don't like the topic that the media presents.
I like food! Food tastes good!
Actually, that isn't what I was saying... (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by greydmiyu on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:32:05 PM EST

I was pointing out a definciency in the reporting of this election. Actually, I find that most news media is lacking in most regards. However, the questions posed never once mentioned legislation in any way, shape or form as an answer. I find it funny that so far that is the only thing most people have come up with. "They aren't reporting what you want so you want to make it less free be requiring said reporting?"

No. I never said required. I said it should be reported, not that it must. The questions asked asked for ideas on how to convince the media of that viewpoint, not force the media into that viewpoint and also asked what the media in other countries do in that situation.

-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
can't name 6 - try for 2 (3.00 / 4) (#36)
by enterfornone on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:59:43 PM EST

I heard on the radio that 25% of young americans (18-24) can't name 2 candidates in this election. I'm an Australian, I don't watch TV and I can name 5 (can't think of the NLP guy of the top of my head and I know there's more than 6). I would say most Australian's could name Gore and Bush and quite a few would probably have heard of Nader too (since the Nader will lose election for Gore has been in our papers a lot too).

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
not just ignoring low vote totals.... (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by fulltide on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 02:10:02 AM EST

I was watching CNN election night and one of the few races I was interested in outside of the presidency and the locals was the Massachusetts senate race where a Libertarian had been polling suprisingly well against the incumbent Ted Kennedy and his Republican opponent. Well, get this, CNN reported that Kennedy was in the lead with 70% and that the republican had 13% of the vote ... and that was it! 70 + 13 != 100
They completely ignored the vote total for Carla Howell, who accounted for most of that 17%!

Now, only showing national totals for the top 4 candidates I dont like, but I can live with as a choice that they made. HOWEVER, not showing a particular candidate's votes purely becuase of party affiliation is where I draw the line. CNN will be getting a letter from me, not just an email, but the tangible paper kind. Those seem to have the strongest effect, if any.
"Linux is only free if your time has no value."
- Jamie Zawinski, former Mozilla team leader
Sickening part of that race... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by greydmiyu on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 07:41:15 AM EST

Is that Kennedy didn't start campaigning until... well, did he start campaigning? And wouldn't take a debate from Howell at any time at all. Don't know if the media would have covered it. Could you tell me if they covered the fact she addressed 40,000 people in one speech? I somehow doubt they did.

-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
debates (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:24:02 PM EST

Personally, I'd like to see the bipartisan commision on presidential debates use a metric such as if your party or candidate gets on the ballot of enough states to win enough electoral votes to win the office of the president, they will be included to the debate.

I'd also like to see them going back to asking tough questions.

And dock time from candidates who don't answer the questions posed from the moderator.

Fat chance of this ever happening.

News coverage and the candidates | 43 comments (21 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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