Control the media, control the mind. The press is a very powerful weapon, and although most news outlets present themselves as free, fair and balanced observers, even the most objective of articles can sway the opinion of an impressionable reader. When journalist Laura Ling was imprisoned in North Korea for illegally entering the country, the press was all over the situation like white on rice. But when she finally got released thanks to an unannounced visit by Bill Clinton, the news stories can be found buried beneath all the other sensational stuff, if the reader dug hard enough. Was the H1N1 virus as deadly and apocalyptic every news agency wanted everyone to believe? A year after everyone stopped caring about the so-called epidemic; the World Health Organisation had officially declared the epidemic to be over. The protests in Iran against Ahmadinejad’s questionable election seemed to be gaining momentum, until Michael Jackson died. The world was watching Iran, but then the King of Pop’s completely out-of-the-blue death caused everyone outside Iran to turn a blind eye, leaving them to their fate. Libya would have suffered a similar fate with Japan being struck by a crushing tsunami, had it not been for NATO’s intervention. Of course, the death of Michael Jackson was extremely tragic, and the plight of the Japanese in the wake of the earthquake and the subsequent nuclear fallout is just as difficult as those of the Libyan rebels. Nevertheless, the press has control over whatever it has its eye on. If the writers and reporters are making a really big fuss out of a trivial event, it becomes the centre of attention.
An interesting example is perhaps the inverse of the aforementioned. The Ames straw poll in Iowa was touted as an opportunity for potential Republican presidential candidates to flex their political muscles before the primaries. Until recently a fringe candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won the straw poll, but not by a large margin. Nevertheless, she surged in popularity and media attention. Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and other news companies placed her in a ‘top tier’ with Mitt Romney and Rick Parry.
Wait a second. Rick Parry?
Oh, Rick Perry with an ‘e,’ not the intentional spelling mistake ballot write-in that the Colbert Super PAC concocted. While the guys in charge of ballot counting have refused to release the results of the trolling, Rick Perry was a write-in as well, having a paltry 700 votes behind five candidates, one of which ended his campaign. And yet, with the whole media getting giddy about Romney, Perry, and Bachmann, they seem to be intentionally ignoring the big elephant in the room, no pun intended.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul came a close second to Bachmann by only 152 votes, and yet Ron Paul barely gets even a small mention. An anchorman for CNN openly told a reporter at a Ron Paul rally, perhaps in jest, that he can take a Sarah Palin soundbite or footage and that he can hold off on the Ron Paul stuff. What is even more interesting is that Ron Paul did not buy up his own votes as Michele Bachmann did, stuffing her tent with a petting zoo and having a popular country singer perform for her bribed supporters.
If the press is Hogwarts, Ron Paul is certainly Lord Voldemort, in other words ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named.’ There’s just something about him and his oh-so-loyal supporters that just gets the press into hives. Of course, the members of the press have not decided to attack Ron Paul by criticising his policies and views, they just say that Ron Paul has no chance of winning, which is the prevailing opinion, even among those who support Ron Paul.
And the interesting part is the reverse psychology. Because of the fact that people, like the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, have started calling out the media for its refusal to talk about Ron Paul, the media has begun to pay a little more attention to him, but the attention is vitriolic and scathing. Bill O’Reilly, while he has given Ron Paul the chance to appear on his show, which he declined, talks with political analysts such as Dick Morris about how self-conceited Ron Paul is and how he is in the race for attention. Charles Krauthammer told Chris Wallace that Ron Paul cannot win because America is not a libertarian country.
The US has publicly funded state schools and libraries and other state-funded services, but many of the aforementioned public services are done at a local level, which means that the services are made by the local community for the local community, as opposed to a far-away bureaucracy. The founding principles of the country are purely libertarian. The right to free speech, due process rights, and the right to bear arms vests power in the individual, and people suggest that America is not a libertarian society?
An article in The Economist suggested that most Americans have very little understanding about how the American economy actually works, which is going to be the biggest issue in the 2012 elections. It went on to say that to take Ron Paul more seriously would require the political commentators, anchors, and reporters to stop deluding their viewers and readers about the politics and economics that they have little understanding over.
Ron Paul, having the distinction of being one of the few politicians in America who are principled and consistent, treads a perilous path. Although he has improved considerably from his lacklustre performance in 2008, and his fanbase has expanded from who people believe to be crazy survivalist loons, there will be many obstacles to overcome. If he succeeds in the primaries, the attacks will become fiercer. If he looks to beat Obama, which current polls suggest, people will deem him crazy and start digging up as much dirt as possible, like Rand Paul’s opponent did with the ‘Aqua Buddha’ advert. Interestingly enough though, Ronald Reagan went through a somewhat similar predicament. Ron Paul, in spite of the might of the written word, may yet stand a chance of becoming President of the United States.