I’m bothered by The Media’s self-imposed role as society’s filter, particularly when it comes to elections. Take this very interesting electoral season for example. There’s no incumbent running for President, so it’s considered a “wide-open” race. Would that it were so.
In some cases the filtering is with adjectives, such as “front-runner,” a somewhat meaningless designation indicating which horse is in the lead at a given point in the race, made even more meaningless because it was used even before the gates opened. In other cases the filtering is with debate invitations. In others, with simple lists of the candidates. Take, for example, this nifty reworking of the New York Times’ results page.
There’s one problem: They lie.
As far as you can tell from this list, the only candidates are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson. There are more, though some of them have dropped out. Click through to the detailed results, where the percentages aren’t rounded. On the Democratic side, there are Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and the dropouts Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, and Bill Richardson. On the Republican, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, and the dropout Tom Tancredo. Bill Richardson put up a respectable showing for someone who would have been completely ignored by the journalists if he weren’t an Hispanic with an Anglo name. Ron Paul beat Giuliani in Iowa and Michigan, and Thompson in New Hampshire and Michigan; his 10% showing in Iowa, 7.7% in New Hampshire and 6.3% showing in Michigan completely disappears in the overview page. Heck, Dennis Kucinich got more votes in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson. I suppose Rudy’s there because New Yorkers are on a first-name basis with him, and Fred because, well, Law & Order is set in New York.
It’s an interesting race this year, even mediated. Stop filtering it.