The following piece was produced by HuffPost's OffTheBus.
Congressman Ron Paul and 20/20 host John Stossel have more than a few things in common. Specifically, they both think a lot of libertarian thoughts, and unlike a lot of libertarians, they've both learned to communicate these thoughts so effectively that they have earned the respect of their peers.
Paul, in his tenth Congressional term, is known as "Dr. No" for his refusal to vote for bills that cater to special interests, raise taxes, or violate his literal interpretation of the Constitution. Stossel, the Emmy-winning consumer reporter who discovered free-market theory via Reason magazine, has been permitted to air provocative specials such as "Stupid in America," which criticized the government's monopoly in education.
So what happens when the champion of freedom and free markets from the U.S. Congress sits down for a chat with his counterpart from the mainstream media? That's when we learn that freedom is simply too hot for TV, or at least, too hot for ABC.
That's right, they are only airing this interview on the internet, in pieces. And the justification is a laugh, at best.
Stossel explained, presumably writing with a gun to his head, in the first article posted Dec. 7:
Despite relatively low poll numbers, Paul has had a big influence on the presidential campaign. That's in part because he's raised a ton of money, and in part because of the passionate following he has on the Web. It's one reason we're posting my interview with Paul only on the Internet, where the debate about Paul is very active. In fact, he's the most Googled presidential candidate.
I'm pretty sure I heard a wink in there somewhere...
This really provides a nice illustration of how the controlled media operates, because it really isn't all about the ratings. This interview, in which Paul articulates his controversial views on drugs, prostitution, gay marriage, health care, foreign policy, and the proper role of government in society, would have received terrific ratings. What's more, it would have served the public interest by giving viewers a clearer view of this once-unknown candidate's proposals. And whether his ideas are good or bad, shouldn't they at least be understood prior to dismissal?
When a long-ignored philosophy begins gaining currency in in the marketplace of ideas, it's the role of free media to explore those ideas, explain them, and evaluate them on their merits. Unfortunately, the authors of the First Amendment did not anticipate the media conglomerates of today and the control they would exert over discourse. They also failed to anticipate that millions of federal dollars a year would someday be spent on propagandistic advertising in major media, and (for example) they did not anticipate that the federal government would strong-arm the television industry into including politicized drug messages in their shows (as in the CSI episode where the well-liked Dr. Robbins makes some absurd statements against medical marijuana). But for whatever reason, the polls clearly show that citizens are fed up with government in general, and it's easy to see why Paul gets his support from disaffected voters from across the political and apolitical spectra. The one thing most have in common is that they looked to the internet for answers.
Everybody knows that Paul's popularity is strongly linked to the Internet, but why is that the case? Could it be that for the first time since before William Randolph Hearst, who used his newspaper empire to whip America into a frenzy over marijuana, a free medium has emerged in which ideas can compete on a much more level playing field? And could at least some of those ideas be winning?
If ABC claims to be operating in the public interest, on what grounds can it reasonably suppress this unusually thought-provoking interview?
ABC has been accused of dishonestly downplaying Paul's candidacy before. For example, this YouTube video shows quite an assemblage of Ron Paul supporters holding signs and chanting outside the August 6 GOP debate in Iowa. The video is followed by screen captures of the two still photos ABC included in their section "Photos: Iowa GOP Debate Recap." One shows a close-up of a few Romney supporters holding signs and cheering, suggesting passion and strength of support for the candidate. The other shows a lone Ron Paul supporter smiling and holding an umbrella, suggesting he is all alone and probably a nut.
But this time it's obvious and conclusive. ABC does not want its viewers to learn about Ron Paul. What the hell are they afraid of, a Ron Paul presidency?