In a few discussions I’ve had about why there is not ever a viable third candidate anywhere, there is one argument I have heard the most. I feel as though the reason someone like Ralph Nader or Ron Paul will not get anywhere near the amount of votes they need or deserve is because none of the mainstream media gives them anything resembling a fair amount of coverage. If we heard sound bites and speeches from people like Nader and Paul as much as we do from Obama and McCain, people would start listening. If they allowed Nader and Paul on the debates, a lot of minds would change and we would have a three, four, or five party system within one election cycle. The argument that the anti-third party people give me (and these people hate the idea of a third party even more than they hate the ‘other side’) is that the reason the media doesn’t give these people any attention is because these people do not merit the attention; in other words, no one cares. This seems kind of insane to me; if none of the major media outlets gave any attention to Mr. Obama, do you really think that he would be leading in the polls right now, or would he be some guy that 2% of the population was talking about? The media determines what 98% of the US population cares about. They let us know when it was time to stop talking about Iraq, they informed us that Afghanistan is the good war, they make sure we know that there are only two people (out of over three hundred million) who are anywhere near qualified to run all of our lives, and they tell us how to think about the economic situation (and, of course, when to stop thinking about it).
Why can’t the average US citizen understand what is going on economically in this country? Sure, it is partially the fact that we don’t really learn anything in school, but it also the fault of the media. The average human being does not fully comprehend the entire scope of economics; that’s why economists have to get degrees. The people writing these articles write them so that most people finish without a better understanding of the situation we are in and how we got here then when they started reading. The mainstream media does not mention that the people who are being affected the most by this situation are not being helped, while the one’s who caused it are taking million dollar vacations. We should be having informative easy (or easier) to understand articles like this one in all the US newspapers, but we don’t because if everyone knew what was really going on, people would be in the streets.
Sometimes the newspapers do run stories that are easy to comprehend, but they usually have a reason for doing this. When the elites of this country finally decided that we needed to go into Iraq, there were plenty of articles stating as simply as possible the case for war. Once we went in there and things started to go horribly wrong, we were bombarded with bigger words, abstract theories of success, and random statistics. Now, some people really want to send troops into Iran; there are rarely any mainstream voices explaining the history of Iran, what is really going on over there, or what attacking them would mean. Instead we have articles like this one, telling us that Iran is equipping the people who are killing our fellow citizens. If the Iranian government is really training out of country people to kill US troops then it should be reported on. However, on the same page should be an article explaining the history of the US arming of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, or its arming of Israel to take over the Middle East. Where are the interviews with regular Iranian citizens or even the people who are being trained to fight? I would be willing to bet that an interview with a US citizen preparing to go to Iraq and fight the insurgency would sound an awful lot like an interview with her or his counterpart. Unfortunately that would require actual journalism and we don’t have the time or patience for that.
So, while bankers who ruined the lives of millions of people are getting bonuses that are bigger than most of us will make in our lifetimes, Iraqi, Afghan, and Somali children are getting blown up left and right because of our president’s lies, and Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr, and Ron Paul are speaking truth to power to much smaller crows than the lying Obama and McCain get; we open up the New York Times on a Saturday morning and see this on the front page. So, I ask again- is the media telling us what they tell us because we are ignorant or are we ignorant because of what we are allowed to know?