Congressman Ron Paul was a clear stand-out from the usual suspects in the first GOP debate, with many viewers (and the majority of MSNBC poll responders) feeling he “won.” (See a compilation of Paul’s debate performance here.) Interesting, then, that his name wasn’t included in a Web-based check-off “rate the candidates” poll from ABC. And his was the only name left off the list.
This was no accident. Scores of online visitor comments relating to Dr. Paul’s exclusion were deleted, the candidate’s name was still prominently absent hours later, and before long a mini-scandal had made the front page of Digg, Reddit, and other social-networking sites.
Here’s a news-flash that some in the mainstream media still haven’t digested: there are a lot of sharp eyes out here, and these days, we can all talk to each other and to the rest of the world outside. Digg.com alone has an enormous, active, informed daily audience that any nightly news show would give anything to count among their ratings, but it’s not going to work out that way. The new media is changing things much faster than the old guard imagines.
So, Paul’s name was finally added to the now-unbiased poll, and the current results there show him as a runaway winner in the first GOP debate. These results are skewed by the response to the controversy, of course, but only differently-skewed than they would have been without it. The real message for anyone in the media who seeks to shape the news to a pre-formed agenda: You can’t fool all of the people any of the time anymore.