Steven Higgs, the editor of the Bloomington Alternative, takes a critical look at the media’s lack of coverage of third party candidates, in light of a panel on Al Jazeera. Here is the video on Al Jazeera and here is the full article. One of the more interesting aspects of the panel, which Higgs focuses on, is who it consists of and how they interact: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, and Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift.
Watching Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift confront the question “Are most political reporters simply insiders?” is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.
The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program’s opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him.
“I think Rocky Anderson is running probably to get his issues out there, more than from an expectation that he might necessarily win,” she awkwardly speculated aloud, unsure about the Justice Party’s name, no less.
Clift, who also contributes to The Daily Beast, defended the media’s treatment of third parties, which independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2008 called a “blackout” and “political bigotry.” To the contrary, she asserted, the media love the drama third parties bring.
“The last thing the press corps wants is a Romney-Obama race,” she said in an edition of Al Jazeera’s Inside Story: U.S. 2012. “Think of that, for all those many months.”
Clift acknowledged the anger the American people feel toward their government and their yearning for more choices and parties. And she said the media has responded, sort of. They have covered speculative third-party bids by Donald Trump and Ron Paul and will be doing more.
“There are two sort-of-third-party entities,” she added, “Americans Elect, which is going to have an Internet convention and choose a ticket, and No Labels, which is trying to get away from Republican and Democrat. They’re not actually going to mount a ticket.”
Clift mentioned neither Jill Stein nor Kent Mesplay, declared 2012 Green Party candidates. Her defense for ignoring alternative parties:
“Hundreds of people file to run for president. You have to have some sort of screen.”