Thursday, October 12, 2006

Somehow, it’s supposed to be our fault when they refuse to give fair and equal coverage to all candidates on the ballot

Got a great email from another Libertarian in a campaign, Barry Hess, of Arizona. He's hacked off, as I have been for years, about the piss-poor media coverage and how they've grown fond pulling the wool over the eyes of the consumers and voters. (Blogmaster edited the text, slightly.)
Dear Friends of Liberty,

All over the United States, Libertarians who conquered whatever ballot access hurdles they made third parties face, are now finding that they still have only a third-class status, with that status enforced by one group: the Media.

In Texas, James Werner, LP candidate for Governor, was denied access into a debate organized by Belo Corp. They allowed four people, including gadfly Kinky Friedman, to debate, so the old argument that "Three's a crowd" couldn't be used this time. He's now moving forward on a lawsuit.

Also in Texas, Bob Smither is running against a Democrat and a write-in Republican in Tom DeLay's former Congressional district. He's the only candidate on both the Special and General elections ballots. According to both MSNBC and the New York Times, Smither doesn't even exist, but the write-in sure does. Luckily, the locals do know he exists, because he's walking the district, working hard, and quickly gaining steam in that race.

In Washington State, Bruce Guthrie, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, mortgaged himself to the hilt to the tune of more than $1 million for his campaign to meet debate requirements, and while the Media sponsors did finally agree to let him debate, it was touch and go there for a while, they still wanted to deny him equal access. It took $1 million on the table to even raise the question of having a fair debate.

In Ohio, Gubernatorial candidate Bill Peirce's campaign staff, in response to the Media locking him out of the debates, has resorted to wearing chicken suits in order to get any sort of press attention at all.

In Connecticut, Phil Maymin, candidate for the 4th District's congressional seat, had a stellar showing in a three-way debate, but pollsters won't include his name in their polls since he's gotten very little media play. The Media ignores him, since they, in turn, claim that they have no polling data supporting him.

This trend continues all over the country, in almost every race where we have a stake. This isn't new, of course. In 2004, my friend, Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Presidential Nominee/Candidate (on the ballot in all states), partnered with Green Party Nominee, David Cobb. They got arrested the night of the second debate between Bush and Kerry, right in front of the debate hall in St. Louis. Still, none of the major media even covered the story. A search on that same night found zero articles on "Badnarik", because they had never covered him or his campaign.

In Arizona, I'm (Barry Hess) in the debates, and I'm holding my own. Some say I've won both debates so far. It has become clear that my true opponent in this race is neither Janet (D) nor Len (R). It's the second hand reporting and coverage of the debates, primarily by the newspaper of record, the Arizona Republic, that distorts our message, and attempts to marginalize any prospect of 3rd party gains. But most importantly, poor coverage violates the inherent right of the voters to judge for themselves by having all of the facts to consider.

The AZ Republic wrote, "Don't blame yourself if you haven't heard of Hess or much about his politics." Somehow, it’s supposed to be our fault when they refuse to give fair and equal coverage to all candidates on the ballot. You see, since Libertarians stand on principles, and refuse to take so-called “clean” election funding (which is out of the pockets of taxpayers), we are not “legitimate” candidates, running "real" campaigns. Never mind that they ignore all of our outreach events (or report them as only taking place at "gun shows"). Never mind that they ignore endorsements, fund-raisers, press releases, and all of the other tools that we use, the same as the other candidates. Somehow we just aren't campaigning 'hard enough' for them to take notice.

The actions of the AZ Republic, a big corporate media player, owned by Gannett, are unconscionable.

Other Libertarian candidates across the state are also suffering at the hands of the Republic, including Richard Mack, who is the only anti-war candidate in that race for Senate. The same 'skewing' happened with some of the Republican Gubernatorial candidates in their primary. Some of those candidates are now openly endorsing me over the Republican who won the primary, and they are joining our complaint about media bias on the record, and on streaming video for all to see.

I'm tired of it, I'm sick of it, and I'm fighting back. Effective immediately, our campaign will be attacking public enemy #1, the true opponent of 'clean elections' and an informed electorate, the Arizona Republic and their biases in reporting the facts.

Today marks the start of a new Hess For Governor campaign fund raising effort to raise at least $25,000 to purchase radio and print ads specifically attacking the blatant and shameless media bias of the AZ Republic, Arizona’s "newspaper of record".

Proceeds from this fund raising drive will be used to purchase spots in reputable media sources that have fulfilled their civic and moral duty to completely, accurately, and fairly report on the race for Governor of Arizona. These funds will not be used to attack the position or programs of Governor Janet Napolitano (D) or Challenger Len Munsil (R). The ads will specifically target the media bias of the Arizona Republic, and how it has abused the right of the public to have all of the facts about all of the candidates; not just those that support the Republic's own editorial biases and its desire to steer government policy and public opinion.

Now is the time to step up to the plate. We need to send a strong message to Big Media that we aren't afraid to go after them directly, and no longer play along, just waiting for them to throw us a bone once in a while.

On Nov 7th, every voter in Arizona will have three choices for Governor, not two.
Our goal: We will make sure they know which reporters can count to 3, and who just stops at 2.

(Sometimes, they'll count to 2.1, or 2.5, and then tell us we're lucky they even
mentioned us)

If you want to know what sort of radio and print ads we'll run, it'll be that simple a message:

We trust the voters to count to 3, but the Arizona Republic stops at 2. Wonder why?

If you are not convinced, go to the website and watch the two debates so far, and then compare what you see in the debates to the reporting the AZ Republic and others have done about it. Then please donate so we can go on the offensive against the real enemy of Libertarians and Democracy: Media Bias.

Help us send a strong message to the Media giants that "We're mad as hell. We're not going to take it anymore!" Donate. Even a small donation will go a long way in paying for print and radio ads. If you'd like to donate matching funds, please let us know. We know that the community can generate major funds when the cause is a good one.

As always, I remain at your service--

Barry Hess, Vice Chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party, and Candidate for Governor in Arizona


Thomas Leturgey said...

While the principals of the Libertarian Party are a lot closer to a lot of use Republicans, the overall image of the party remains that of pot-smoking, anti-social atheists.

That will not change unless more Libertarian candidates can successfully raise money, and a lot of it.

There is no responsibility whatsoever for the media to cover all candidates equally.

As much as I would have liked to see everyone who ran for California Governor during that special election a couple of years ago...including Gary Coleman and porn star Mary Carey...on the same stage for what would have been the world's longest debate, it's not going to happen.

I have been a proponent of allowing everyone equal access to the ballot, but as it now stands, all candidates must earn their publicity. And unfortunately, that means being able to pick up the telephone and ask for campaign donations.

Sadly, one-million dollars is spit in a bucket for any gubernatorial campaign anywhere in these United States. Much like a Pittsburgh city Republican raising $10,000...and our party hasn't been able to do that either.

I empathize with anyone who feels slighted by the lack of media coverage. However, until serious money can be raised for media purchases on all levels, the pot-smoking, anti-social atheist tag will stick.

I was the editor of small publications that has encouraged all candidates to present information, because I was the only one who did.

Unfortunately, Libertarians have not improved their lot in political life at all in the past 10 years. Only lots and lots of money will see any change in the next decade.

Thomas Leturgey said...

Plus, we have the exact same argument every time this ideology v. reality argument comes up.