Media Bias and Third Party, Independent Politics

A favorite pastime of liberal and conservative supporters of the two-party political status quo is criticizing the mainstream media and the political press for their conservative or liberal bias, respectively, which means the media's bias toward the positions espoused by representatives of the Democratic or Republican Parties. The synthesis of these two critiques reveals the media bias against third party and independent politics: insofar as media bias supports the positions of Republicans and Democrats it excludes third party and independent perspectives on a given issue. However, this synthesis also reveals the critical potential of the political press: insofar as media bias results in opposition to the positions of Republicans and Democrats it necessitates consideration of perspectives outside of those represented by the two-party political status quo. It is no coincidence that even moderately strong campaigns by third party and independent candidates for office regularly lead the political press to speculate on the possibility of widespread third party and independent opposition to the duopoly system of government. Often, however, such pieces result only in the reproduction and reinforcement of duopoly ideology. And the reason for this is quite simple: when considering the possibilities and potentials for third party and independent activism, the media regularly only consult advocates of the Republican and Democratic Parties. Part of the reason for this is institutional. As David Brooks recently wrote in a column for the NYT:
Liberals and conservatives each have their own intellectual food chains. They have their own think tanks to provide arguments, politicians and pundits to amplify them, and news media outlets to deliver streams of prejudice-affirming stories. Independents, who are the largest group in the electorate, don’t have any of this. They don’t have institutional affiliations. They don’t look to certain activist lobbies for guidance. There aren’t many commentators who come from an independent perspective.
At the same time, however, for the purposes of the everyday political news report or the television news panel discussion, one presumes that there are innumerable advocates of third party and independent politics who would be more than happy to provide a perspective that is not beholden to the Democratic-Republican Party machines or the reproduction of the political status quo. That such perspectives are often not included in political discussions and debate, even those which revolve around the topic of third party and independent politics, is likely the result of nothing more than duopolist bias.

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