This presidential election is characterized by polarizing opinion, widespread disappointment, and a mutual reluctance to take responsibility for past actions. Both Republicans and Democrats alike give a collective shake of the head and sigh of resignation while watching how the next president will come to power, yet parties other than the Republican and Democratic platforms remain neglected.
Despite this being one of the most unpopular presidential elections in the last fifty years (if not the most unpopular), third party candidates still receive next to no attention from mainstream media. In fact, according to a new study by Media Research Center, “channels such as CBS, NBC, and ABC only dedicated 0.03% of airtime to talking about anyone outside of the Republican and Democrat parties.”
Of 1,713 campaign stories on ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts from January 1st to August 31st, Trump received the most airtime with 1,773 minutes. Clinton received significantly less—1,020 minutes. What about Gary Johnson? What about Evan McMullin? Jill Stein?
Gary Johnson received 5,000 times less than Clinton. 9,000 times less than Donald Trump. He was blessed a with measly 11 seconds of evening news time over the last eight months. Evan McMullin racked up a pitiful 32 seconds, and Jill Stein received the least attention with just a fraction of the time of even Gary Johnson at 3 seconds. Take a better look below:
It’s understandable, of course, that primary candidates receive the public’s primary attention. Yet, considering the scope of disapproval and discontent this presidential election has inspired, it may prove (or would have proven) beneficial if Evan McMullin, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein were given more, maybe not equal, but more time to address the public at large—to explain their nuanced platforms and potentially connect with a formerly undecided (or currently upset) voter.
When Gary Johnson supporters are doing what they can to get him on a show like Saturday Night Live because he can’t get the time he needs on news broadcasts, it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate who is getting attention when and for how long. As this election has undoubtedly demonstrated in many ways, it’s high time to take a look in the mirror.