Are the media scared of Ron Paul?

News outlets routinely treat the Ron Paul candidacy as a hopeless case, if they mention him at all among GOP presidential hopefuls. He cites fear, but bewilderment might be a more accurate reason.

Charles Dharapak/AP
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas speaks at the Republican Party's Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, Aug. 13.

Are the media scared of Ron Paul? The Texas congressman and GOP presidential candidate believes they are.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Representative Paul ticked off the reasons that reporters should list him in the top tier of Republican wannabes. Paul noted that he did well in the Iowa straw poll, has a strong organization, and can raise money.

But news outlets routinely treat him as a hopeless case, if they mention him at all. Paul says the reason for this is fear, pure and simple.

“They don’t want to discuss my views because I think they’re frightened by us challenging the status quo and the establishment when it comes to foreign policy and monetary policy, the entitlement system, because my views are quite different than the other candidates’,” he said on Fox.

Hmm. Well, he did do well in Iowa, that’s true. And Paul has gotten a blip of coverage for that, if he hasn’t noticed. Thanks to comedian Jon Stewart scolding the "lamestreamers."

Paul had to have a pretty good organization to do well in Iowa, since straw polls essentially are tests of how well campaigns can round up supporters and bus/cajole them to the polls. And he can raise money. The latest fundraising results on file with the Federal Election Commission show him in second place in the GOP cash race behind moneybags Mitt Romney.

But “fear” might not be the right word here. (OK – maybe we’re a little leery of how Paul supporters flame our in-boxes if they deem us not sufficiently supportive.) We’d used the word “puzzled” instead, as in the media are puzzled by how Paul fits into the Republican primary picture.

See, reporters like to reduce candidates to easily labeled boxes. Mr. Romney is the front-runner, Rick Perry the Southern hope, Michele Bachmann the tea party queen, and so forth. Paul does not easily fit any of these boxes.

Is he even a Republican? True, he’s conservative, with a small “c” – so antitax and antigovernment spending that a few years ago, an academic survey rated him as having the most conservative voting record of any person to have served in Congress between 1937 and 2002.

But he’s also anti-interventionist to the point where he sounds like the left wing of the Democratic Party. He’s complained that President Obama is moving too slowly in getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, and he says US national-security establishment warnings that Iran wants nuclear weapons are “war propaganda.”

“They just want No. 6 war. We have essentially five going on now and we’re broke, and the American people know we can’t afford any more wars,” Paul told Fox on Tuesday.

Many pundits think this stance alone means Paul can’t win the GOP nomination, since many Republican voters lean hawk.

Paul has “deep support,” but his “Dennis Kucinich-esque foreign policy agenda is anathema to most Republicans,” and he’s thus “not a credible candidate for the nomination,” wrote Kyle Kondik, an analysts at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, on the center’s “Crystal Ball” blog in the wake of the Iowa straw poll results.

Paul’s view that US monetary policy should be nudged back toward the gold standard is also, um, pretty unorthodox. Fellow candidate Perry just called the head of the Federal Reserve “treasonous”, however, so perhaps Paul’s economic policies will look less outside-the-mainstream by comparison.

Paul says that he’s disturbed by the how the press ignores him, but he knows how the system works, so he’s not surprised.

“It’s not like I’m just trying to win and get elected. I’m trying to change the course of history,” he said Tuesday.

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