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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 hegemony when he said that he tries to push candidates to answer questions even in cases in which “neither campaign” wants to talk about a particular issue. The interviews also indicated that reporters are often fully aware that they may be helping to sustain the two-party system through their coverage. Some reporters struggled with the idea that they are supporting the status quo, but others indicated that they have simply accepted the existing power structure as a natural part of politics. Talev summed up the feelings this way: We really do have a two-party system, essentially. And, the system perpetuates itself and I guess to some extent, we perpetuate it by covering it that way, but we also cover it that way ‘cause that’s the way it is. And, I guess, it’s a real question which is “should newspapers support the status quo” or “should newspapers seek to shake up the status quo”? But, primarily the way elections are covered, newspapers support the political status quo. Barabak indicated that reporters sometimes question whether they are perpetuating the existing power elite, but he said that because the United States operates as a two-party system, newspapers ultimately make the right decision for their readers when they limit their coverage only to those candidates who are likely to win. Barabak said: It is really very difficult to decide who you cover and who you don’t because you realize you’re part of this self-perpetuating cycle: They’re not seen as legitimate, so they’re not covered. They’re not covered, so they’re not seen as legitimate. It’s very very difficult… But you have to make that choice. You just don’t have the time, you don’t have the resources… To my mind, you’re better serving readers if you give them more information on the people most likely to win than a little bit about everybody. It is evident from these interviews that journalists sometimes recognize (and even lament) that they are aiding the wishes of the major parties, but they go along with it, the interviews suggest, because that is simply the way politics works in the United States. 17

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
hegemony when he said that he tries to push candidates to answer questions even in cases 
in which “neither campaign” wants to talk about a particular issue.
The interviews also indicated that reporters are often fully aware that they may be 
helping to sustain the two-party system through their coverage.  Some reporters struggled 
with the idea that they are supporting the status quo, but others indicated that they have 
simply accepted the existing power structure as a natural part of politics.  
Talev summed up the feelings this way:
We really do have a two-party system, essentially.  And, the system perpetuates itself and 
I guess to some extent, we perpetuate it by covering it that way, but we also cover it that 
way ‘cause that’s the way it is.  And, I guess, it’s a real question which is “should 
newspapers support the status quo” or “should newspapers seek to shake up the status 
quo”?  But, primarily the way elections are covered, newspapers support the political 
status quo. 
Barabak indicated that reporters sometimes question whether they are 
perpetuating the existing power elite, but he said that because the United States operates 
as a two-party system, newspapers ultimately make the right decision for their readers 
when they limit their coverage only to those candidates who are likely to win.  Barabak 
said:
It is really very difficult to decide who you cover and who you don’t because you realize 
you’re part of this self-perpetuating cycle:  They’re not seen as legitimate, so they’re not 
covered.  They’re not covered, so they’re not seen as legitimate.  It’s very very difficult… 
But you have to make that choice.  You just don’t have the time, you don’t have the 
resources…  To my mind, you’re better serving readers if you give them more 
information on the people most likely to win than a little bit about everybody.
It is evident from these interviews that journalists sometimes recognize (and even 
lament) that they are aiding the wishes of the major parties, but they go along with it, the 
interviews suggest, because that is simply the way politics works in the United States.
17


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