On Monday, Jon Stewart took issue with cable news' naked lack of coverage of libertarian-favorite Ron Paul in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Stewart argues that TV talking heads are ignoring Paul's candidacy, in spite of this second-place finish in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. In one clip he lampooned, a CNN archor tells a correspondent on air: "If you get a video clip of Sarah Palin, or did get a sound bite from her, bring that back to us. Hold the Ron Paul stuff."
That would appear to be some pretty blatant bias. Paul later told CNN's Piers Morgan that the media doesn't "want to discuss my views because I think they're frightened by me challenging the status quo and the establishment." So should we believe Stewart and Paul's claims of bias against the 12-term congressman? Pew's Project of Excellence in Journalism decided to crunch the numbers and have found that, indeed, there just isn't much Ron Paul coverage. In Pew's analysis of campaign news stories from January 1 to August 14 of this year, Paul is the 10th-ranked "election newsmaker" in the entire presidential field. Only 27 campaign news stories significantly featured him in the first half of 2011.
As the Daily Intel pointed out, though, while Paul's base of supporters is enthusiastic, Paul doesn't have the breadth of appeal to carry enough GOP delegates to win the nomination. Thus, the media's lack of coverage may be justified. But that argument is seriously undermined by Pew's findings. In its analysis, he significantly trails the likes of Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, and Newt Gingrich, candidates who, like Paul, are (or were) longshots for the nomination. The better explanation for the media's lack of interest might be that Paul's story is old news. This is his third try at becoming president, and fresher faces like Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann (even if that face is crazy-eyed) make for more lucrative news stories. Paul, apparently, just isn't selling anymore.