Why Nader Receives So Much Coverage

According to Google News Ralph Nader's announcement has generated a lot of press. Yesterday, it consistently ranked in Google's top three stories for U.S. news. In fact, the buzz is so great, that some of my friends who don't work in politics brought up to me yesterday without being prompted to do so. Considering all of the coverage it is receiving, I am left wondering at what point Meet the Press became Democracy Now. Since when do shows like Meet the Press give discussion roundtable slots, much less one on one interviews, to progressives? In fact, when do they give such interviews to extreme long shot progressives?

Nader is clearly not receiving coverage for his current ability to attract votes. In 2004, Nader received 0.38% of the national vote, compared to 0.32% for Libertarian Michael Peroutka. While no one expects Michael Peroutka to appear on Meet the Press if he announces a 2008 presidential bid, from a horserace perspective Peroutka would have an equal claim to such an interview. Also, whenever the several hundred news outlets covering Nader's announcement decided to become Pacifica Radio, it must have been after the point when Cynthia McKinney announced her campaign for President, which pretty much was only covered by Democracy Now. Given that Nader lost the Green Party nomination to David Cobb back in 2004, and that McKinney actually has demonstrated the ability to win elections in the past, McKinney would have to be favored do better than Nader in this election. While I do remember This Week covering McKinney's primary defeat back in 2002, and declaring it to be a sign that African-Americans were becoming more moderate, I also don't remember her presidential announcement interview with Tim Russert or George Stephanopoulos this election cycle.

Now, I am perfectly well aware of Nader's influential position in forming numerous advocacy institutions. Hell, in 1994, like many young progressives, I had a summer job working for one of those (NYPIRG). Also, in 1996, during my far-left anti-Democratic days, I voted for Nader in New York. (While I have never voted for a Republican, during my younger days I did sometimes vote for third-party candidates. Hey, it was the 1990's, and ineffective rebellion of that sort was all the rage. I have long since learned the error of my ways.) During that campaign, I pointed out Nader's influential role as a citizen advocate and argued that he had done more for the public good than probably anyone who had run for President in a long, long time. Nader is, or at least was, an icon for a generation of progressives. In at least one poll conducted during the 1970's, Americans listed him as one of the ten most admired people in the country.

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