There's nothing Texas Rep. Ron Paul's legions of fans hate more than what they see as the media's constant oversight of their hero. Paul's campaign has raised millions of dollars to combat the alleged media conspiracy which, they claim, is out to destroy the candidate the media fears most.
There is just one problem: the Ron Paul revolution is being televised.
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Since announcing his campaign on May 13, Paul has made 87 appearances on cable television and Sunday news programs. That's more than any other candidate currently running for president, according to an analysis of transcripts and data provided by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC and CBS, as well as Media Matters’ “Fox Primary” project.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., comes in second place, with 80 appearances, while former Sen. Rick Santorum has clocked 75 and former Speaker Newt Gingrich has showed up 65 times.
More significantly, with the exception of Herman Cain, who ended his presidential campaign in November, Paul is winning the Fox News primary. Paul has appeared on Fox News 63 times since June 1, more than any of his primary rivals. He is followed closely by Gingrich and Santorum – both of whom were paid contributors to the network before announcing their candidacies – and Bachmann.
And only Herman Cain has had more individual face-time with news anchors. Cain's meteoric rise to the top of the polls this fall meant he appeared on six Sunday shows in October alone, followed by a number of one-on-one interviews following allegations of sexual harassment in November.
The liberal Media Matters has counted the number of appearances by each candidate on Fox News Channel and Fox Business since June 1. Their analysis used data either from the date each candidate announced his or her candidacy, or June 1, whichever was sooner, through December 11.
We crunched our own numbers based on transcripts and data provided by the other networks, spanning the period from the date each candidate announced his campaign through December 11.
Paul's fans aren't wrong to criticize the media for its coverage of his campaign. Paul is mentioned on air far less frequently than most of his rivals, including Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both of whom trail him in national and state-level polls. And when pundits do talk about him, they frequently do so in a far more negative tone.
It is also true, as his campaign has asserted, that Paul gets less time to air his views in debates; University of Minnesota political scientist Eric Ostermeier has calculated that Paul has had the least amount of time to speak in three of the last ten debates; only twice has he been given more time than the average candidate.
However, he's getting his share of television time elsewhere. Of all the candidates running for president, Paul has had the most chances to deliver his message in his own words. One could argue that Paul is simply more available to the press, but candidates like former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who also complains about the lack of media attention to his campaign, had only 23 television appearances, less than a third of Paul’s.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has taken the opposite tact that Paul has. Romney appeared last week on Fox News Sunday, ending a 651-day hiatus from the Sunday show circuit.