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In 1992 over 60 people ran for President of the United States when they entered the first primary in my wonderful home state of New Hampshire. Of these 60 individuals only eight were covered in the national news media. Some names you probably remember: George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot stick out above the others, but how about Jerry Brown or Paul Tsongas? These people, who were covered extensively during the campaign, are barely in our mind’s eye now. So what about the other fifty four candidates who received little or no coverage in the media back then?
What gives our media system the right to choose who gets covered and who does not? We sit back and wait to be spoon fed the news so we can make our decision on who should lead us. Many people complained in the last election that none of the candidates were good enough to vote for. So we didn’t vote at all. While I don’t agree with that logic, maybe it would be easier to vote if we knew more about the dozens of candidates that the media conveniently omits from the record.
A perfect example of a candidate who received little or no coverage in 1992, but still had many great ideas and was a respected politician is Larry Agran. Agran was the former mayor of Irvine, California (110,000 people). Irvine won a United Nations award when Agran creatively tried to eliminate ozone-depleting compounds from the conservative county.
He also served as executive director of the Center for Innovative Diplomacy, where he pursued issues of international trade, arms reduction, and human rights.It has been argued by his supporters that Agran had more governing experience than Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot and much more experience in foreign policy than Bill Clinton.
When Agran announced his campaign in August of 1991 he explained his plan for a “new American security” in which funds would be redirected away from the overkill of weapons spending toward the Cold War (which didn’t even exist anymore) and toward “the human need at home”. In other words, all that cash that was being used to make bombs and kill lots of innocent people would be used to feed the homeless and improve our standard of living.
Despite being a highly regarded candidate by knowledgeable publications, and significant voter support in many primaries and polls, Agran was excluded from almost all media controlled aspects of the race. The best example of this exclusion was in December of 1991 when Agran was barred by the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic party from a televised health care forum in Nashua.
Agran stood up from the audience and demanded to know why he was being excluded from the forum. Security police began to remove Agran when the crowd shouted out “Freedom of Speech!” and demanded Agran’s inclusion. Instead of letting him participate again, the state Democratic organization moved its next debate to a high security studio without an audience. Agran protested outside with four hundred other people but nothing changed.
Agran had his body or face cut out of candidate pictures or camera shots, was called a “winner in debates, with little chance for the big prize”, and was actually thrown down a flight of stairs and arrested when he asked to be included in another forum. The television cameras didn’t once turn away from the debate as Agran was tackled to the floor. We know that in the end he did not win the Democratic party’s nomination but he did get three delegate votes. Television screens listed these votes as “other” underneath what they considered the major party candidates.
If Agran, a democrat in a supposed democracy, can be handled like this by our media, then what about the candidates who don’t fall under the elephant or the ass? How else does the daily news control what we see in every day broadcasts? You truly are bound and gagged if you can’t think beyond the world that you see through your eyes and hear through your ears.
Propaganda and the media are to democracy as violence is to totalitarianism. Its easier to control peons by making them think they are free.Why put the effort into killing or torturing them? Think about this the next time you hear a report read to you by Peter Jennings or when you pick up your morning paper.