Greenville, S.C. — Before Rep. Ron Paul had even spoken a word at tonight’s GOP presidential primary debate, libertarians were already objecting that he’d been marginalized.
All in all, libertarianism will receive a huge slice of Fox News airtime tonight, because the term can be applied to a full 40 percent of the contenders. Among the five debate participants are Paul and another liberty-lover: soft-spoken, pot-smokin’ Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who vetoed 750 bills during his eight-year tenure.
Yet media storylines have focused on the big names that are missing from the debate, like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich. Some have suggested that former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is the top-tier candidate tonight on a stage full of long-shots.
The fine folks at Reason take exception to media branding Paul as a “non-major” candidate, and they point to a poll showing Paul tied for second with New Hampshire voters.
Similar complaints of media bias were made by the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008.
It’s fine to haggle about who falls on which side of the divide, but it’s probably not debatable that a line exists somewhere dividing serious contenders from also-rans. Should media organizations not spend limited resources on the most likely propsects?
After all, John Davis is running for president. He carries a three-foot pipe wrench painted like the American flag, and he plans to visit every county in the U.S. But most reasonable people would agree that barring divine intervention, Davis has zero chance of winning the GOP nomination.