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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Unformatted Document Text:  Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates Party fundraisers, the precinct workers, [and] major labor people on the Democratic side…” Walters made similar references to the major parties, saying he talks to “the local Democratic and Republican chairmen and chairwomen” to see what they “think about the campaign.” Other reporters made similar references. Finally, when reporters discussed the independent sources or noncampaign officials they seek out for “neutral” information, they indicated that many of these people come from within the two-party structure. Walters of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said that he sometimes tries to get the opinion of special interest groups, citing the Wisconsin Realtors as an example—a group, he said, that “generally back(s) Republicans.” Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times cited the Service Employees International Union as an example of a noncampaign source that he has tapped to test his own observations about politics—an organization that has donated millions to the Democrats and Republicans over the past 16 years (The Center for Responsive Politics). Given that the United States currently has a two-party system, it is only logical that reporters would turn to sources from or connected to the Democratic and Republican parties for information. But it is equally important to recognize that by using such sources and institutions to gauge which problems and solutions are the priorities, reporters are by extension adopting the values and priorities of the two major parties. They absorb what these institutions tell them and then reflect this back to the electorate, thus embedding their campaign reporting with a Democrat-Republican worldview. Campaign as contest The interviews suggest that reporters view campaigns mostly as the process by which one candidate tries to defeat his or her opponent(s). In fact, the notion that a 12

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Party fundraisers, the precinct workers, [and] major labor people on the Democratic 
side…”  Walters made similar references to the major parties, saying he talks to “the 
local Democratic and Republican chairmen and chairwomen” to see what they “think 
about the campaign.”  Other reporters made similar references.
Finally, when reporters discussed the independent sources or noncampaign 
officials they seek out for “neutral” information, they indicated that many of these people 
come from within the two-party structure.  Walters of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 
said that he sometimes tries to get the opinion of special interest groups, citing the 
Wisconsin Realtors as an example—a group, he said, that “generally back(s) 
Republicans.”  Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times cited the Service Employees 
International Union as an example of a noncampaign source that he has tapped to test his 
own observations about politics—an organization that has donated millions to the 
Democrats and Republicans over the past 16 years (The Center for Responsive Politics).  
Given that the United States currently has a two-party system, it is only logical 
that reporters would turn to sources from or connected to the Democratic and Republican 
parties for information.  But it is equally important to recognize that by using such 
sources and institutions to gauge which problems and solutions are the priorities, 
reporters are by extension adopting the values and priorities of the two major parties. 
They absorb what these institutions tell them and then reflect this back to the electorate, 
thus embedding their campaign reporting with a Democrat-Republican worldview. 
Campaign as contest
The interviews suggest that reporters view campaigns mostly as the process by 
which one candidate tries to defeat his or her opponent(s).  In fact, the notion that a 

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