(Lori Piotrowski) – Last night, millions of viewers tuned in to listen to Republican candidates verbally spar. While they shadow-boxed for voter points, one candidate wasn’t even allowed in the ring—former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
Two weeks ago, a CNN poll, one of the sponsors of last evening’s debate, showed him tied with Herman Cain and ahead of Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman. And yet, he was absent from the list of contenders.
According to Ron Nielson, a Johnson senior campaign advisor, they have asked the media why their candidate is excluded from participating. A recent e-mail states “credible observers have speculated that there may in fact be a ‘Gary Johnson Rule’ to ensure that he doesn’t appear on stage. (See here and here.)” When Slate, a left-leaning online publication and National Review, which leans a little right, agree, I think there may be something to Nielson’s claim.
What is unacceptable is that once again the national media determine who the voters should select as their candidate. We see this in local elections as well as state and federal elections. Does anyone remember the gubernatorial debate that excluded other candidates, such as Libertarian candidate Art Lampitt? They chose to hold their own debate.
The issue isn’t whether a candidate is “viable.” What standards are used to determine viability and how do these standards eliminate bias on the part of those determining said viability? The issue is letting the people decide who they want to represent them.
According to Nielson, the “media outlets who decide the debate participants are also the same people who devise the national polls. While they may say that their debates are open to anyone, their carefully restricted polls effectively play the role of gatekeeper.”
Which leads to CNN excluding Governor Johnson, even after including him in their poll. Results showed he placed higher than three regular appearing debaters: Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain.
Nielson is asking Americans to speak up and demand a fair accounting of what’s happening. At the very least, to include Johnson in future debates:
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And he’s right. We voters deserve to hear from all the candidates.