Something wasn't adding up.
All indications were that Ron Paul had won the GOP debate at the Reagan Library May of last year. Poll after poll had the Texas congressman thousands of votes ahead of any other candidate, yet major news networks weren't giving him the time of day – much as they refuse to do so today.
What should have been the story of the hour – an obscure candidate winning the hearts of Americans across the country – was either dismissed as a fluke or completely ignored.
I was incensed, but also willing to listen to reason. Online polling is not, of course, a very scientific or proper way to gauge public opinion. Multiple voting usually runs rampant, especially if a group is particularly enamored with their candidate.
It is this dedicated following that has kept Ron Paul's candidacy alive, after all. His campaign earned more than $5.3 million in the third quarter of 2007, 70 percent of which came from online donations – to say nothing of a string of successful “money bomb” campaigns that came afterward.
But I just couldn't leave the subject alone. I could not justify writing off Ron Paul's success to a group of loyal supporters fervently clicking away at an online poll. And to make sure I wasn't becoming rather senile myself, I began looking into media coverage of the congressman.
Then something strange began to happen.
As I shifted through various polls and debate footage, I began arriving at conclusions that made me feel like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. It was becoming very clear that television producers had blatantly and systematically attempted to derail Ron Paul's campaign.
The story begins with the GOP debate held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. ABC News conducted a poll after the event that asked, “Which Republican came out on top?” After just more than 18,000 votes had been collected, 15,568 Americans had voted for Ron Paul. The closest candidate to the congressman was Mitt Romney with a grand total of 221.
ABC News contributed Rep. Paul's popularity to Internet activism, but this is problematic since he also won several polls that only allowed one vote per IP address.
The GOP debate at South Carolina followed the same trend, but this time the media was out for blood. The congressman's views on foreign policy had stirred controversy and FOX News was ready to pounce.
Imagine their surprise when this “second-tier” candidate led their text-message poll for the majority of the night, slipping behind Mitt Romney by only 1 percent to finish in second place.
In his own words, Sean Hannity asserted that Ron Paul “did not win that debate.” But not only was this an inappropriate assertion for a network that claims to be “fair and balanced,” it was also completely neglectful of the national mood. It is not responsible journalism to ignore such a sweeping level of support, especially since Rep. Paul also won the MSNBC debate poll by a margin of nearly 60 percent.
He went on to win 14 out of 30 straw polls, collect more donations from active and veteran military than any other candidate, and begin the Campaign for Liberty upon withdrawing from the presidential race.
Ron Paul's popularity is, clearly, due to more than online activism. He has struck a chord with an America that is desperate for change, and if he was not a factor in this election, a part of me doesn't want to know who is.Tweet
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