Out of 16,892 votes cast in the Iowa Straw Poll last Saturday, Texas Congressman Ron Paul came within 152 votes of upsetting Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in her own home state.
The close call was ignored by the national media. On Sunday, Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, Iowa, appeared on five national news programs carried by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the Fox News Channel. Paul was invited on none.
The following day, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty withdrew from the race and was featured by all of the networks all day long. Once more, Ron Paul was ignored.
To give you an idea of how staggering Paul’s victory was, and why the national media risks a total disconnect with its readers and viewers in their effort to ignore it, he won twice as many votes as Tim Pawlenty and almost as many votes as Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, New Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman combined.
There’s more. Michele Bachmann was a regular attendee of Dr. Paul’s famous weekly congressional meetings until she was re-elected to congress in her own right.
She openly claims leadership of the tea party that was inspired and started as a Ron Paul fundraiser. Except for her lapse in voting for Nancy Peolosi’s stimulus bill, she has been careful to mimic Ron Paul’s votes in the House. The combined total of the Bachmann-Paul votes amounted to a tea party takeover of the GOP. But once more the media uniformly declined to make an observation.
Some reporters were at times schizophrenic in their post straw poll analysis. Executives had apparently prepared them. There were talking points for what to say if Bachmann wins and what to say if Ron Paul wins.
|Ron Paul in Iowa.
Sometimes they couldn’t get it straight. A pundit would say that it was a stunning victory for Bachmann and a significant event since it knocked out Pawlenty out of the race and crippled fundraising for the lower tier candidates. Then the same pundit would add in the same sentence that it really didn’t mean anything. No one offered their viewers any explanation for why the networks were spending three days talking about something that didn’t mean anything. A reporter from one network told me that they had 900 journalists and technicians covering the straw poll.
The Ron Paul Campaign arrived in Des Moines on Wednesday buoyed by a CNN national poll showing their candidate ahead of Bachmann and Pawlenty. But they soon had a taste of what was to come in that night’s presidential debates. They were greeted at their headquarters’ hotel by the headlines of the Washington Examiner declaring “All Eyes on Romney, Bachmann, and Pawlenty.” The Examiner, along with Fox News, would co-host the evening’s debate.
The debate kicked off with a series of questions to Bachmann and Romney. Seven minutes into the debate, Ron Paul was asked one question and given one minute to answer. He would not be heard from again until 38 minutes into the program, after all the other candidates gave their answers to multiple questions.
This included a lively exchange between Bachmann and Pawlenty. The debate within the debate was launched by questions from Fox News anchor Christ Wallace, who occasionally added a provocation to keep things going and seemed perfectly delighted to have a presidential debate turn into an infomercial for Bachmann and Pawlenty.
What was happening did not go unnoticed by the national media. Although on-air discussions were rare, private stories abounded. And one from an MSNBC journalist, of all things. (MSNBC producers were intercepted in their own debate telling Chris Matthews in his ear piece, “Don’t go to Paul, don’t go to Paul!”)
Knowing that the race was tight, Chris Wallace announced on Friday that regardless of what happened at the straw poll, his Sunday guest would be Michele Bachmann. It was apparent that Fox News had decided against the Ron Paul candidacy and was willing to risk the scorn of violating its own motto “fair and balanced” to achieve its ends.
Ron Paul supporters should not panic at this media snobbery. Ronald Reagan won in a landslide in 1980, in spite of unanimous and vitriolic attacks from the media. He was portrayed as racist, a warmonger and an extremist.
Reagan went directly to the television airwaves with his own message. Ron Paul tested that in Iowa with stunning success. Iowa showed that given a small taste of the truth, without the media filter, people will choose Ron Paul. The real test to his campaign will be decided in his next money bomb. If it works, he will compete on the airwaves in the Iowa caucuses and he will win.
Doug Wead is a New York Times best-selling author and a former adviser to two American presidents. He is senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign.
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