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Democracy suffers when the news media ignore long-shot candidates and the ideas they espouse

Third-party blind spot — baltimoresun.com

While the news media did an effective job this year of covering the presidential campaign between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, the press still has a major blind spot when it comes to writing about third-party contenders.

According to a basic LexisNexis database search of election coverage from Aug. 5 to Nov. 5, The Washington Post and The New York Times published a combined 3,576 news stories, editorials, op-eds, photographs and letters to the editor about Mr. Obama and 3,205 items about Mr. McCain. By contrast, the two dailies published only 36 items about independent Ralph Nader, 22 about Libertarian Bob Barr, five about Green Cynthia McKinney and three about the Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin.

The Baltimore Sun was not much better, publishing 384 news items about Mr. Obama, 327 about Mr. McCain, eight about Mr. Nader, four on Mr. Barr and two each for Ms. McKinney and Mr. Baldwin.

None of these candidates garnered more than 2 percent of the popular vote on Election Day. But how third-party candidates are covered by the news media is an important issue that should be taken more seriously, given that we live in a democratic society that proclaims deference to the First Amendment and honors the notion that we are all better off when a wide range of proposals are aired.

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One Response

  1. gee, all those 3rd party candidates out-performed the percentage of articles written about them, while Obama under-performed, and McCain ran about equal. I wonder what the impact would be of an equal number of articles being written about each?

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