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LM: "At Issue..." September '99
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"AT ISSUE..." Media Coverage Campaign 2000

Besides politicians tossing issues around like
candy at a Fourth of July parade, stabbing each
other in the backs, and spending more time raising
money ~ than making a possitive difference in our
land...The Media is the worst offender in the
electoral process.

The major media today creates the focus, the
issues, and winners in the campaigns. First, take
a look at the George W. Bush campaign. The
pundits and talking heads on television made a
huge deal out of the meaning of the Iowa Straw
Poll... As if it were the deciding factor for all
50 states, well over a year away from the actual
election. The spin of the coverage was~ see
what's happening to politics? Their focus
thereafter was about how much money Bush was
raising. Forget about the issues and presenting
them to the public. Forget taking exit polls and
focusing in on why people voted for a particular
candidate. The Media decided it's the money and
ran. Of course they decided it wasn't money when
Forbes lost last time. They are the ones saying
it's what is controlling politics. I say, they
are the ones painting that picture, and reporting
on it as if a fact. I let issues and principles
decide my votes.

I would have began voting Libertarian years
ago...had the media covered ALL the candidates.
Now, tell me what decides the election...
money, cause The Media says so? Or The Media
deciding who is important enough to cover...
discounting all but their favorites? So, the
public's exposure is limited to a handful of
"chosen" ones and not given the other choices.
Heck, they don't even really get to hear the
candidates' platforms save a few minutes of
empty promises. In the end, it is the person
who casts the vote. It would be nice if they
were fully informed, perhaps more would vote
with conscience.

Again with Bush as the example...Who was it who
hounded Bush about past drug usage? The
question was asked a couple of times with an
absolute response that it would *not* be
discussed. So, the news for days is cluttered
with *journalists* re-asking, panels of
paid party *experts* creating an issue, instead
of covering them. Now, it may be a concern
to some voters, who would really like to know.
However, constantly reporting that Bush still
hasn't answered the question, and "Should he
answer the question?", "Should he be President,
if he did do cocaine in the past?"...is all
more like the questions at the end of a soap
opera than any hard news, investigative
reporting or insiteful exposure. I say, where
did the moral responsibility of the reporter to
the American public go? It was there once.

The Media does seem to shape the adjenda of a
campaign. From the very start, only certain
candidates are covered. The press is not seen
asking what their main issues or ideology are.
They tend to focus in on well known names,
asking questions about what they do know from
their pasts instead of taking the time to learn
by interviewing. Rumor and inuendo are reported
on, in lieu of the facts neccessary to the
voter. Photo ops for the "chosen" are abundant,
twenty second soundbites offered up. But, where
is the duty to cover it all?

I was a supporter of Public Television for a
while. The day our local station began coverage
for the State's election... I was excited to
watch. We had many strong Libertarian candidates
and I was eager to see them up against the
others. But, of course they were just as guilty
of non-coverage. So, I wondered what the
"Public" in Public Television stood for...
certainly not the public interest. I withdrew
my support, with a letter explaining why.
I received a membership renewal in the mail
a month later. Now I *know* they aren't
listening to the needs of their viewers!

So, what did happen to The Media? Well,
consider this. An independant news source is
very rare today. Most newspapers, radio
stations, local tv stations, and cable networks
are owned by a small group of large corporations.
These are in direct competition with each other
to get ratings ($) and favorable legislation
by government. So, the stuff that used to be on
the "LifeStyle" section of the newspaper is now
a top story, and Jerry Springer-esque antics
fill in as news stories...Entertainment, my
friends. Not to forget the Old Stand-by ~ If It
Bleeds, It Leads. Cruel but true.

Then there are the 24 Hour variety of news
channels on cable. These tend to want anyone
to tune in at anytime of the day, and see the
same stories...and you can...all day...any day.
Boring...but repetition sinks in. So that leaves
little time to cover anything that no-one else
is talking about. Maybe just enough time to
throw together some different stock footage
and reword the intro. But, certainly not room
for full investigations, or risking different
content. I applaud whomever finally decided to
bring up East Timor recently...A little late as
this has been going on for years with out a
word. Not like it was a secret...but alas there
are no oil fields or uranium that our leaders
want...so, roll that footage of Ventura at
SummerSlam one more time!

Speaking of whom, Jesse Ventura can be thanked
for getting a Third Party to gain media
coverage. Fox News has actually been covering
bits and pieces on the Reform Party. Now, if
someone would tell them of the Libertarian Party,
who's even larger. In fact, it's the 3rd largest
party, fastest growing, and meanwhile continues
on with no Campaign 2000 coverage. (By the way,
C-SPAN is the only cable channel to fairly cover
politics.)(Big plug for C-SPAN.)

News Anchors, pundits, collumnists, talk-show
hosts (I'll wager most push their own party.)
...The Media like to tell us that a third
party couldn't win or don't have the polls, as
a way of explaining why they ignore them.
And perhaps it's because they didn't inform
people of these candidates and beliefs that it
often turns out that way, that this biased
dismissal creates the outcome. Perhaps they
could be viable candidates, if treated as such.
Abraham Lincoln would have lost today due to
this. He was after all a third party candidate
and thought of as a darkhorse. The first of
his new party...

Although, to be fair coverage is increasing
on third parties. But it certainly is not
balanced. We are also told, not to waste our
vote... But, if we vote for one of the 2 leading
party candidates we can keep out the lesser of
two evils! Nice trick, of course it depends who
you are talking to where your vote should go
(Democrat or Republican). How about this, exit
polls showed that Ross Perot would have won in
'92 had everyone voted their conscience. He
didn't because people fell for these tricks. I
almost did. Never again.

Back to money. In Campaign 2000, money rules
The Media, not the campaign. If fair and
balanced reporting were provided, candidates
would not have to buy time. Money does not decide
an election, exposure to ideas does. Slant and
bias taints the choices Americans see and it's
time for a change. Time for a fully informed
electorate, instead of watching a ratings game
between a few rich media giants. Money
contributed to a campaign from a large
corporation or country, like say, China
which is only there to attain favorable
legislation or policy is very dangerous and
pollutes our nation (Not to mention a much larger
issue.) However, having a large fund for a
candidate, does not decide an election...
that is our choice. How The Media covers the
race affects that choice.

Luckily, we have the internet (and no wonder
so many politicians and media propose to
regulate and censor it). There are independant,
responsible, trustworthy news sources here
Use them.

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