Friday, October 05, 2012
Corporate Media Opposes Open Democracy
And another party is in much the same position -- the Libertarian Party. In addition, both of these parties have intelligent and credible candidates running for president (Dr. Jill Stein for the Green Party, and New Mexico's ex-governor Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party). But you might have noticed that neither of these candidates was invited to debate with the Republican and Democratic candidates last Wednesday night. Why? Shouldn't the American people have had the opportunity to hear from the candidates of all parties with a mathematical chance of getting 270 votes?
In the United States, the presidential debates are organized and held by a supposedly non-partisan organization called the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Here is how it describes its own mission:
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan , 501(c)(3) corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.
If they are supposed to "provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners", why did they only invite two of the four parties appearing on most state ballots? The CPD will tell you that the Republican and Democratic candidates were the only one to meet their "nonpartisan" criteria. There are three criteria a candidate must meet to qualify to participate in the debates. The criteria are:
1. The candidate must be constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States.
2. The candidate must have ballot access in a sufficient number of states to have a theoretical chance of winning 270 electoral votes.
3. The candidate must be supported by 15% of the national population as demonstrated by 5 selected national polls (an average of those five polls).
Both the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates meet the first two qualifications. They are both constitutionally eligible to hold the office of president, and they are both on the ballots of a sufficient number of states to qualify. It is that third criteria that allows the CPD to refuse to allow them to participate in the debates.
And why do they not have the 15% support? because the corporate media (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and all of the newspapers in the nation's largest, and even medium size and small, cities) refuses to give the Green Party or the Libertarian Party any news coverage at all. In fact, if you get all your news from the mainstream (corporate-owned) media, you might not even know those two parties actually have presidential candidates.
Why won't the media cover those candidates? I believe it is because their corporate masters don't want them to do that. They have bought enough members of both the Republicans and Democrats to insure they will continue to dominate our free enterprise system, but they don't own any of the Green Party or Libertarian Party candidates (and are unlikely to be able to do so). So those corporate entities don't want any party to hurt the support of the parties and candidates they virtually own.
Of course these corporate media outlets will say they don't cover these parties because they don't have enough support to warrant that coverage. This puts the Greens and Libertarians in a "catch-22" situation. They can't get any media coverage until they become more popular, and they can't become more popular without media coverage. Frankly, the unfairness of that is staggering.
We need a new "fairness doctrine" in the United States, that says any party that meets the first two of the above criteria (constitutionally eligible to hold the office and on a sufficient number of state ballots) will receive equal coverage by the media -- and will be able to participate in the presidential debates. Let the people, not the media, decide who the best candidates are. If the people don't like what the Greens and Libertarians stand for, they won't vote for them. But the people should be able to know and decide that for themselves.
What we have now is not a free and open democracy. It is a selective democracy that is well on the road to plutocracy (rule by the wealthy class). This needs to be changed. The people deserve to know and understand all of the choices they have -- not just the choices the powers-that-be want them to have.