Here are two media myths about presidential campaigns:
- The media covers candidates based on their electability, as measured by polls and donations.
- If you haven't raised a lot of money, you don't have a chance.
Myth #1 was debunked by Ron Paul. He is set to become the top fundraiser among Republicans this quarter and he isn't getting anywhere near the coverage of Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and at this point Mike Huckabee.
Ron Paul has been raising more money than John McCain for a long time now. Yet, I still see John McCain being discussed as a legitimate candidate for president, albeit one whose chances are shrinking (but at least he's "legitimate" and "credible"). On the other hand, the Ron Paul stories are mainly curiosity pieces. As in, "Isn't that curious how much money that fringe candidate Ron Paul raised?"
The answer you'll get in private from folks in the media is, "But you know he's not going to win!" No, you know that. Apparently, many other people don't agree. And God knows what would happen if the press gave them all equal coverage and pretended to be anywhere near objective when analyzing all of the candidates.
There is far more "fringe candidate" bias in the media than there is liberal or conservative bias. Once the media decides you're a fringe candidate, you better create miracles to overcome that.
Which brings us to Mike Huckabee. What happened, I thought you couldn't be a legitimate candidate if you didn't raise a ton of money? Huckabee raised the paltry sum of $764,000 in the second quarter. He has averaged less than a million dollars in the last two quarters. These are ridiculously low numbers and ... he now leads in Iowa.
Isn't this proof positive that judging candidates by their bankroll is not a credible way of determining their "legitimacy"?
I know that it's hard to give nine people all the same amount of coverage and the press has to make some judgment calls. I just want those judgment calls to be guided by some modicum of reason and evidence, rather than what the conventional wisdom dictates. Because obviously the conventional wisdom is wrong.