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Media knows best

Posted By Harry Browne On 09/29/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

It has long been apparent that many people in the media don’t believe
you’re competent to make your own decisions. So they decide what you’ll
know — not just on the basis of what is newsworthy, but in some cases
on the basis of what they think you should be told.

While I’ve been aware of this for a long time, running for president
has shown me how blatantly this is done. While most people in TV, radio,
and the press have treated me wonderfully, some of the most important
people want to pretend I don’t exist.

Earlier this year I accepted the fact that many newspapers and
polling companies treated the presidential race as a four-way contest –
to be won by either George Bush or Al Gore, with Ralph Nader and Pat
Buchanan influencing the outcome. After all, these four men are
celebrities. It’s natural that journalists would pay attention to them
and ignore other contenders who are less well known.

During the summer a Lexis-Nexis search showed that Pat Buchanan was
mentioned 60 times as often in the press as I was. And Ralph Nader was
receiving even more coverage.

The underdog catches up

But my appearances on talk radio and a few national TV shows began
to bear fruit. I found that I was getting a warm reception for my
message of freeing you from the income tax, releasing you from Social
Security, ending the insane war on drugs, restoring gun rights, and
reducing the federal government to just its constitutional functions. I
became more visible, and I began to attract much more support than you
would expect from my lack of celebrity and my lack of press coverage.

Consequently, in the Zogby, Rasmussen, and Hotline national polls,
I’m now at a point of virtual parity with Pat Buchanan nationwide, and
only slightly behind Ralph Nader.

And in some states, my strength has exceeded theirs — putting me in
a position to swing the election between Bush and Gore. Various polls
have shown me:

  • Leading the third-party pack in Georgia with 4 percent — to
    Buchanan’s 1 percent, with Nader not even on the ballot.

  • Tied with Nader in Illinois at 3 percent, and considerably ahead
    of Buchanan.

  • At 3 percent in Colorado, just behind Nader, with Buchanan at
    only 1 percent.

  • Tied with Nader in Kansas and well ahead of Buchanan.

  • Tied with Nader in Michigan, with Buchanan barely showing up.

On the Internet, I finish far beyond where you would expect,
given my lack of celebrity. For example, a WorldNetDaily presidential
poll on Sept. 19, with over 23,000 people voting, found George Bush in
first with 61 percent and me in second with 26 percent, Pat Buchanan was
third with 7 percent, and no one else had more than 3 percent.
Obviously, this isn’t a scientific poll, but it shows how much my
candidacy is resonating in some quarters.

Man bites dog

So here we have a real news story. A candidate with little celebrity
and very little press coverage is running neck-and-neck with two very
well-known celebrities who are getting tons of coverage.

What’s happening here? Who is this unknown candidate? What is he
saying that’s attracting this support? Is he taking votes away from Bush
or from Gore? Or is he reaching people who haven’t been voting at all?
Could he affect the outcome of the election in some states — causing a
switch in the states’ electoral votes?

If Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader are newsworthy, think how much more
newsworthy is a candidate who has attained their level of support
without their celebrity and press coverage.

So have the pollsters, the national newspapers, the big-city dailies,
the TV networks, the Sunday talk shows all been banging on the door to
get interviews?

Not a chance.

The invisible candidate

In fact, last week CNN had a show on third parties — and the only
guest invited to appear was Pat Buchanan.

This Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert is holding a third-party
“debate” with Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. When our press secretary
asked the show’s producer why we weren’t invited — given that I’m
running even with Buchanan — he was told it “isn’t in the cards” that
I’ll ever be covered by “Meet the Press.” When asked what we would have
to do to be worthy of their coverage, the producer said she resented
being asked that question.

Upon hearing this news, Libertarians all over America began flooding
“Meet the Press” with e-mails, as well as phone calls that eventually
shut down the program’s voice mail system.

If you’d like to add your voice to theirs, you can contact:

Only big-government candidates need apply
Tim Russert has essentially voted me out of the election. Since support for me is on a par with that of the guests he’s invited, it must be my views that he objects to. The views of Buchanan and Nader fit nicely into the “Meet the Press” format of discussing how we can make government larger and larger.

Pat Buchanan is campaigning to make government bigger by enacting policies he thinks are necessary to save American jobs. Ralph Nader is campaigning to make government bigger by overruling corporations that try to get rich providing what their customers need and want.

As my vice-presidential candidate Art Olivier has said, Buchanan wants to decide which country you can buy a car from, while Nader wants to decide whether you can buy a car at all.

The ideas of these men fit the conventional press format of talking policy — figuring out where government must intrude next. My ideas — that government already intrudes far too much, that we must restore the Bill of Rights, that you should be free to make your own decisions with your own money, with your own life — apparently aren’t worthy of discussion. If that’s not the standard for inclusion, why don’t they tell us what is?

Apparently, it doesn’t matter how much support I get; it just “isn’t in the cards” to let you know about Libertarian ideas.

The media know what’s best for you. So shut up and watch Tim Russert — and find out what you’re supposed to know.


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