Thursday, September 8, 2016

Is Three A Crowd?

By Ann Jacob
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.
Photo Credit: Molly Riley, Getty Images

Does Gary Johnson ring a bell? Increasing so. Jill Stein? Probably not. The media typically chooses not to give coverage to third party candidates, even in presidential elections.

Gary Johnson "Aleppo" Confusion

Last week, Trump's trip to Mexico and campaigning in Phoenix took center stage on every news outlet, including CBS News. But despite last night's "Commander in Chief" forum, Gary Johnson hooked a homepage story on CBS. Titled "Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson: "What is Aleppo?", CBS focused on Johnson's slip during an interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panelist Mike Barnicle.

Multiple media outlets covered the mess-up but it begs the question: Is Gary Johnson only getting attention for his mistakes? The news media has to focus on the the big issues, of course, but it begs the question of how much success or failure can come to a candidate due to a certain mistake. Nonetheless, if the quote, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," is true, CBS's coverage of Johnson's snafu could end up helping to shoot him into the spotlight.

Despite far less coverage for third party candidates, CBS News has been giving Gary Johnson some decent air time. Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld appeared on CBS This Morning yesterday. An interesting note about this morning show piece was that before the candidates came on, anchor Norah O'Donnell had to give a brief overview of the parties goals. Sure, the majority of the American public knows the basics of the Democratic and Republican platforms and not much of others. However, if news outlets across the board gave equal coverage to third party candidates, there would be no need for explainers this close to November 8th.

"Commander in Chief" Forum

Last night's "Commander in Chief" forum garnered immense media and public attention. All major outlet's (minus MSNBC) dot coms lead story was about the forum. While CBS's top story, "Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump is a "gift for ISIS"" was eye catching, the story itself seems biased toward Clinton. Despite multiple outcries that moderator Matt Lauer was too soft on the two candidates, both Clinton and Trump still had major points that were not outlined in the article. The entire article focuses on Clinton's attacks and a few of her policies.

Coming from CBS, it was slightly surprised to only find one other article on the forum, talking about about both Trump's and Clinton's policies on war and the military. This story shed a more equal light on the candidates, yet still held a certain "entertainment value" that would be important for consumers not enveloped into this election. In addition, the stories video clip focused on Trump's attacks on Clinton which gave a better balance to CBS's top story.

Lastly, although Lauer roasted Clinton on her internet server, it was refreshing to not see that on CBS's front page considering the answers shed no new light on the subject. Whereas some may consider this another bias to Clinton, more may see this a sound editorial choice not to publish a story that has already been so regularly covered by the media.

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