Gary Johnson is closer than any 3rd party has been to getting mainstream attention 20 years, but the media has little credit to take for that. In fact, according to a new study by the Media Research Center, we can safely say it can hardly take any credit whatsoever.
Trump and Clinton are some of the most unpopular candidates to curse the political stage in quite a while, but despite the public yearning for another way, the mainstream channels such as CBS, NBC, and ABC have only dedicated 0.03% of airtime to talking about anyone outside of the Republican and Democrat parties.
MRC analysts examined all 1,713 campaign stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from January 1 through August 31 (1,472 full reports, 104 brief items and an additional 137 stories on other topics that included some discussion of the campaign or candidates).
Not surprisingly, Trump has drawn most of the attention: 1,773 minutes of evening news airtime during the first eight months of the year, far ahead of Clinton’s 1,020 minutes of coverage. Since the primaries ended on June 7, the networks’ focus has stayed on Trump, who received 705 minutes of coverage — much of it about various controversies — vs. 437 minutes for Clinton.
But compare those totals to the third party or independent candidates: Thus far in 2016, Johnson has received a mere 11 seconds of evening news coverage — just a single sentence on the NBC Nightly News as he was formally nominated back in May. That means Clinton has received more than 5,000 times more coverage than Johnson, while Donald Trump garnered nearly 10,000 times more evening news airtime than his Libertarian challenger.
Broken down, it looks like this.
I get that the media wants to put the focus on which train wreck is the most fantastic, but with the high unpopularity, showing the public something else other than dumpster fires would do enough to help tilt the scales a bit. With Johnson attempting to garner enough votes to achieve a spot on the debate stage, every bit of publicity he gets is more precious than gold. His supporters are even doing what they can to convince Saturday Night Live to have him on.
Some would say, however, that some channels have a vested interest in a Democrat or Republican candidate doing well, and shining light on an alternative would do a lot against their interests. NBC and Donald Trump have a cozy relationship themselves, with only a handful of stories being negative, and the overwhelming majority being positive.
So the MSM silence may be by design. Still, this hasn’t stopped Johnson’s rising popularity, though if the media were doing it’s job, that rise would be far quicker.