There will be a presidential debate Monday night, from 9:00 to 10:30 Eastern Time. You won’t see it on the cable TV news channels, though. You won’t be able to watch it on C-SPAN.
The presidential debate won’t be broadcast on PBS either, although PBS is given government funding with the understanding that its programming will serve the public interest. Instead of the presidential debate, PBS will be broadcasting Market Warriors, a reality TV show about people who like to go shopping at flea markets.
Why won’t PBS broadcast this presidential debate? The likely answer is that the debate isn’t between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. It’s between Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, and Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate. Stein and Johnson don’t receive much support in presidential candidate preference polls, and so PBS declines to publicize them.
Of course, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg-question: Is PBS withholding publicity for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson because they’re unpopular, or are Jill Stein and Gary Johnson lacking popular support because the major media keeps withholding publicity from their campaigns?
I wonder how PBS programming would change if it applied the same criterion of popularity to its entertainment programs that it does to presidential candidates. We wouldn’t see classical music concerts, that’s for sure. We’d have Lady Gaga specials instead. We wouldn’t see Masterpiece broadcasts of a new version of Upstairs, Downstairs. We’d have dramas about American cultural issues instead.
There are efforts to get PBS, and other television broadcasters, to relent and to show Americans the third party presidential debate. These efforts aren’t likely to succeed, though. So, if you want to see the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates for yourself, you’ll have to go to the Free and Equal web site or the RT YouTube channel.
Yes, RT, the Voice of Russia, which is supported by money from the Russian national government in Moscow, is more willing to give time to American presidential candidates than PBS. You might want to remember that, come Pledge Week.