Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reader: Don't pick candidates for us!

Q: Why do the media believe it is their right to pre-select a field of acceptable candidates for their readership?"
The reason I ask this is that . . . you have published two articles about the decisions of two "candidates" to NOT run. The article about (Mike) Huckabee mentions no fewer than eight other candidates (or non-candidates): Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Daniels, Pawlenty, Palin, Santorum, Trump. The (Donald) Trump piece mentions Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Daniels, Pawlenty,and Huckabee. Missing from the articles are the man who some believe "won" the first debate (Herman Cain), the man who many others believe won that debate(Ron Paul) . . , and a man who has twice the executive experience of Mitt Romney (Gary Johnson, twice elected governor of New Mexico). (A recent) editorial once again omitted Gary Johnson and Ron Paul (it did name-check Herman Cain). This follows a tragic precedent set by the Observer and its affiliated wire services in 2008 to exclude certain candidates from mention in its election coverage. Why are you staggering down the same pathetic path this year?

Hilton Caldwell, Monroe

A: Hilton, I agree that there has been little consistency to this point in our reporting on the potential field of GOP candidates. That's partly because of the uncertainty about who is in and who is out. The Gallup polling organization, in an effort to make sense of this fluid field, has been tracking 15 names. Potential candidates now officially announce or excuse themselves almost daily. But that will change as the field firms up. For now, candidates who have announced and are drawing a following certainly should be acknowledged in coverage. So, I think you make a very good point about Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, both of whom have announced they are running. You may have seen that we carried an article about Herman Cain announcing in Atlanta over the weekend. Others who have announced include Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty. I’ve shared your concerns internally with our staff and we will work to provide more complete references to the field of potential candidates. This is an issue that matters a great deal to us. We think voters should decide which candidates are to be taken seriously, not the press, not political parties, not special interests. As the campaign progresses, we will also watch carefully to see which candidates are resonating with voters and which are being generally discounted. It would be unwise to focus on a candidate simply because he or she has gotten on the ballot. If the public has clearly heard a candidate and largely rejected that person, voters are better off if the media uses more of its resources, instead, to cover viable candidates. Thanks for the question.