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Mainstream Media Ignores Presidential Candidates Supported by One in Ten

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One in ten respondents in a recent national poll of preference for President support candidates other than either Senator Barack Obama (Dem.) or Senator John McCain (Rep.).  This is a finding of a poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, released by CNN, according to a report by Angus Reid Global Monitor dated August 6, 2008. click here

The ORC poll found 6 percent support Ralph Nader (Independent/Peace & Freedom, in California), 1 percent support former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (Green), and 3 percent support former Congressman Bob Barr (Libertarian).

Despite CNN's involvement with this poll and relationship with ORC, CNN never reported that a surprisingly large one in ten support other candidates.  In fact, CNN scarcely reported on this poll at all.

The results of four subsequent comparable national polls reported on by Angus Reid (including polls by the Zogby and Harris organizations), confirm that approximately 5 to 10 percent of the public currently support Nader, Barr or "other" candidates (none of these polls included McKinney).

Other national polls have measured support for alternative candidates at lower levels, but none of these actually named the alternative candidates as a choice for respondents, so they are not comparable. Even these polls found support for alternative candidates at 2 percent or more.

It should be noted that, historically, "third party" presidential candidates poll considerably higher prior to the election than the number of votes they tally on election day.  Current polls are thus more a measure of current public sentiment rather than a predictor of actual vote totals.

CNN, along with every other mainstream news organization and media outlets, is ignoring that there is significant public support for these alternative candidates for President.  The mainstream media dismiss this story as unimportant and not meriting coverage, just as they dismiss McKinney, Nader and Barr as serious candidates, as well as the chuck of the public who share similar perspectives with those candidates.

A study of mainstream news coverage by this reporter found that it barely ever includes Nader, McKinney or Barr.  In fact, the study found that the amount of news coverage given to the three combined is no where near even 1 percent, and is actually no more that a few hundredths of a percent, of their coverage of all candidates.

A search on CNN's web site for video hits on five candidates for President (Obama, McCain, McKinney, Nader and Barr) found a total of 2,110 hits of videos.  There were 1,238 for Obama, 821 for McCain, 11 for McKinney, 30 for Nader, and 10 for Barr.  A total of 2,110 hits altogether, with 51 being for either McKinney, Nader or Barr.  That means that McKinney, Nader and Barr together received just .02 percent of CNN videos. That's just two hundredths of a percent of CNN news coverage of the five candidates. CNN would have to increase it's coverage 500 fold in order to provide 10 percent of their coverage to McKinney, Nader, and Barr, and 50 fold just to provide 1 percent of their presidential coverage.

The same searches on the Fox and ABC web sites showed the same tiny amount of coverage for McKinney, Nader and Barr.  Fox's coverage of the three was .08 percent and ABC's was .01 percent of their total coverage of the five candidates (searches on NBC and CBS web sites didn't provide total hits, so no calculation could be done). 

Newspapers and news web sites also have a minuscule amount of coverage of alternative candidates.  A search of The New York Times web site found just .03 percent of their coverage of the five candidates is of McKinney, Nader, or Barr. The same searches on Yahoo News and Google News (which mainly reflect newspaper coverage plus some alternative news web sites), each returned only .01 percent of hits for the three alternative candidates.

The public broadcasting networks don't provide substantially more coverage, with only .07 percent of the hits on the NPR web site being for McKinney, Nader or Barr, compared to coverage of all five candidates.

Since it's clearly not the result of coverage by the mainstream media, why is there significant support for McKinney, Nader and Barr?  There's little doubt that alternative positions on the issues are responsible. McKinney, Nader and Barr have all strongly opposed both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are against further U. S. foreign wars.  The three also staunchly defend civil rights and have strong critiques of big business (although Barr's is different).  McKinney and Nader champion Single Payer health care, and higher taxes on the wealthy. Barr advocates almost unlimited personal freedom.

Empirical data on the basis for support for McKinney, Nader, and Barr is hard to come by, but an annual poll by the Gallup organization provides important clues.  Gallup does an annual poll of public confidence in U. S. institutions. The results of Gallup's poll, conducted from June 9 to 12 of this year, found very low levels of public confidence in all major institutions, including government, big business, and the news media.

Gallup's web site prefaces the poll results by stating that it found "...just 12 % of Americans expressing confidence in Congress...the worst rating for any institution in the 35 year history of this question." click here  According to the Gallup poll, public confidence in both public and private sector institutions is very low.  Only 26 percent of respondents have confidence in the institution of Presidency; only 32 percent in the Supreme Court, only 24 percent in TV news; only 24 percent in newspapers; and only 20 percent have confidence in big business.

On the other side of this poll's findings, are those who have little or no confidence in these major institutions.  It is here where the numbers of the disaffected from, and in resistance to, the status quo are reflected.  Gallup's poll found that 48 percent of respondents have little or no confidence in the Presidency, 41 percent in Congress, 28 percent in newspapers, 31 percent in TV news, and 35 percent have little or no confidence in big business.

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Jonathan Nack has been a journalist and activist since 1984. He resides in Oakland, California.
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