How the Media is Treating Rand Paul

How the Media is Treating Rand Paul

Paul’s Chances Minimized, Sometimes Completely Ignored

by Josh Guckert

During the 2008 and 2012 elections, Ron Paul supporters often spoke of a “blackout” occurring, where the media chose to simply not cover the successes of the Paul campaign. With the 2016 election season in full swing, it appears that Rand Paul is now receiving the same treatment.

For whatever reason, there seems to be one set of rules for covering all other presidential candidates and another set for covering Rand Paul. It is almost as if the media does not want to give the impression that Senator Paul could actually win the nomination and the Presidency, even though he so often polls similarly to so-called “front-runners” like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.

It seems that the only time that Paul is covered is when authors write to assure their readers (and perhaps themselves?) that the junior Senator from Kentucky is not viable. The National Journal wrote in February an article entitled, “Why Rand Paul Can’t Win the Republican Nomination,” which outlined a haphazard argument about how Paul’s foreign policy will doom him. Also in February, The Washington Post concluded that, “The mainstream media (finally!) figure out Rand Paul is a flake,” which contained mostly ad hominem attacks against Senator Paul’s friends and father.

It would appear that since January 2013, pundits were able to satisfy libertarians by acknowledging Paul’s rise within the Republican Party. However, since the campaign has now “unofficially” begun, it’s as if the supposed experts are now treating us as children who should not be taken seriously.

There is no better example of the above phenomenon than Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. In December 2014, Paul was ranked in the top tier of candidates, second only to Jeb Bush. After being inexplicably taken out of the top tier, Paul now sits behind Bush, Rubio, Walker and even Ted Cruz.

All of this reporting makes little sense in light of the fact that Senator Paul has been consistently in the top tier of polling, both nationally and in early primary states. The most recent Quinnipiac poll from Iowa shows Paul in a tie for second place with Rubio, trailing only Walker. Additionally, the newest Bloomberg poll from New Hampshire has Paul in a tie for first with Walker.

One reality that pundits cannot deny is that Senator Paul matches up best of all Republicans against presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from April, Paul trailed Clinton by only 3 points, far out-performing his Republican rivals. However, when the poll was shown on FOX News, Paul was featured at the bottom of the screen, as the candidates were in the order in which they finished in the Republican primary poll. While this could have been an honest mistake, the unspoken message seems to be one insinuating that Paul is not the “major candidate” that the other three are.

Even if this can be attributed to a subtle error, the next poll, which was actually conducted by FOX News itself, cannot be given the same excuse. Taken in May, the poll tested various Republicans against Clinton. The Republicans who were tested were Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rubio, Cruz, Ben Carson, Walker, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina.

Paul admittedly did rather poorly in the primary poll, coming in 6th place. However, if that the were reason to omit him in head-to-head match-ups with Clinton, FOX News would also have to forego testing Cruz, Kasich and Fiorina, as they all finished behind Paul. Most suspicious is that when FOX performed the same poll in April, Paul did the best against Clinton, finishing only 3 points behind. As all Republicans tested did as well or better than they did in April, it is not beyond belief to estimate that Paul would have equaled or exceeded his April numbers and led the GOP field again.

This general disregard for Paul once again showed its head in the Huffington Post‘s article entitled, “Rubio Will Likely Be the Republican Nominee.” The author points to the many demographics which Rubio appeals toward that will allow him to capitalize where other Republicans have failed. The only issue is that the article only mentions Rubio in comparison to Walker and Bush. Rand Paul’s name is not mentioned once in the entire article, despite the fact the he finished tied for first with Jeb Bush in the poll which is analyzed. Rubio came in 6th place.

Despite the arguments made that Rubio has a higher “net favorability” among key groups and therefore exhibits electability, the only groups in the entire poll where Rubio outperformed Paul in the primary field were Hispanics and Westerners. In fact, Paul more or less dominated the poll among most demographics, winning several and finishing near the top in almost all of them.

In conclusion, Rand Paul has shown himself to be a serious contender for the Presidency with both his actions and his polling. While some media outlets may choose to ignore his successes, it will be to their own detriment. Though many candidates have and will both rise and fade throughout this election cycle, very few have shown themselves to have true staying power like Rand Paul has. For all of these reasons, the Kentucky Senator should be featured just as prominently as other supposedly “top tier” candidates.



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