In the aftermath of the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa this past Saturday, a new “top tier” of Republican candidates was declared: Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) won at Ames, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been the agreed-upon front-runner for months and Governor Rick Perry of Texas officially entered the race for the Republican nod very close to the top of the polls. Left out of this mainstream media pundit-created top tier, three-way tie was Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), who came close to stealing Ames away from Michele Bachmann.
“But ‘close’ does not fully describe Paul’s second-place finish. Paul lost to Bachmann by nine-tenths of one percentage point, or 152 votes out of 16,892 cast,” read an opinion piece for POLITICO. “There was a deliciously intriguing line in The Washington Post’s fine recap of Ames on Sunday. It said had Paul edged out Bachmann, ‘it would have hurt the credibility and future of the straw poll, a number of Republicans said.’ So don’t blame the media. Here are Republicans, presumably Republican operatives, who said if one candidate wins, the contest is significant, but if another wins the contest is not credible. Amazing. And disturbing.”
However, the mainstream media did play an important role by choosing to not fully cover Paul’s near-upset at Ames, and some are accusing the industry of simple laziness.
“I don’t believe the media ignoring Paul is necessarily part of a grand conspiracy, it’s just lazily moving forward with preconceived notions about who can win elections and who cannot. It’s quite a self-fulfilling prophecy,” read an article on Mediaite. “Here’s how it works: Candidate X enters presidential race. Candidate X gets very little MSM [mainstream media] coverage. MSM says, ‘Candidate X has no chance of winning.’ Why does Candidate X have no chance of winning? Because very few people know about Candidate X. Why? Because MSM hasn’t been covering Candidate X.”
Even late-night, liberal comedian Jon Stewart was incredulous over the media’s snubbing of Paul, asking on “The Daily Show”: “How did Libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?”
“He is Tea Party ‘patient zero.’ All that small government, grassroots business? He planted that grass,” Stewart said, after showing highlights from several television news shows, with pundits discussing the Bachmann/Romney/Perry top tier. “These other folks are just ‘Moral Majorities’ in a tri-cornered hat. Ron Paul’s the real deal. And Fox News should love this guy.”
Still, at least one mainstream media outlet has been forced to react to Paul’s surging popularity. The Associated Press ran an article Sunday titled “Once a fringe candidate, Paul shaping 2012 race.”
“These straw poll results, our growing poll numbers and our strong fundraising show that our message is resonating with Iowans and Americans everywhere,” Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said in an interview with the news service. “Our message was the same in 2007 as it is now in 2011, but this time we have quadrupled our support. That means our message is spreading, our support is surging and people are taking notice.”