I’ve got a number of friends on Facebook today who have jumped on the question of “why is [insert media outlet name here] ignoring Ron Paul in their Iowa Straw Poll coverage when he took second?” It seems that there are a number of people who, if not being Ron Paul supporters, are at least giving Ron Paul a look (and seeing the tone of his media coverage as something sinister) after his performance in the latest debate.
Looking at his positions over at On The Issues, there are some things I can appreciably get behind. Of course, there are also things that it’s hard to get behind as well, at least for a number of people. Still, I suspect that for a number of the positions he takes, Ron Paul at least carries the same positions as some of the other groups - Tea Partiers, Republicans, Democrats and his actual home party, Libertarians.
Why, then, would media outlets not want to bother covering him? Well, for one, a Straw Poll is completely nonscientific. It’s not a ballot-box primary. It’s not even a caucus. It’s a matter of figuring out how to bus your supporters in, drive them in, or convince them to show up and either pay their $30 ticket or convince them to pay for it themselves. According to the indicated figures, there were ~4000 people who took tickets provided by the Bachmann camp and voted for somebody else. I’m willing to bet a good number of them went over to the Ron Paul camp.
Second, Ron Paul’s supporters have a reputation for being a little… ahem… cuckoo. As in, they have a history of hijacking straw polls and unscientific, uncontrolled online polls and making a mockery of them, even using hijacked computers to spam online polls. In many ways, the Ron Paul supporters remind me of the Lyndon LaRouche supporters who used to pop up in various places on the SoTech campus trying to sell buttons, coffee mugs, reading material, and above all else, entry into the Cult of LaRouche. In 2004 and 2008, LaRouche supporters heckled the Democrat party debates before being escorted out of the auditorium; in the last debate, the Fox “chatroom” for the online stream was so spammed by Ron Paul supporters that no other discussion other than “why isn’t every question directed at Ron Paul” could be had.
The sum total of this is that I don’t really think the media are giving Ron Paul a disservice or failing in their duty by not giving him wall-to-wall coverage. Ron Paul’s been in the position of “winning straw polls, never gaining real traction” before. His supporters are highly motivated, more than enough to spam and tip straw polls and unscientific online polling. At the same time, they aren’t very numerous, and we eventually have to look at what they are selling - Ron Paul.
Here’s where it all falls apart. Ron Paul, while sincere, is sincere in the same manner that makes people look at the Lyndon LaRouche crowd, or the Al Sharpton crowd, or the Tea Party, or any other fringe movement and say “wow, there goes a nutcase.” He’s almost an octegenarian, but he can go into incredibly manic periods during interviews. He may make some good points, but he has a habit of making them in the worst possible way - that “blowback principle” audioclip, where his voice went squeaky/creepy, was on talk radio stations for months afterwards.
At the end of the day, they’re selling “Crazy Uncle Ron in the Tinfoil Hat.” And few people are buying, media coverage or not.