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Perspectives

November 3, 2008
U.S. third-party candidates find outlet in Russian media

The online Russian news site “Gazeta” highlights independent candidate Ralph Nader. Source: Gazeta

U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have both weighed in on Russia — from condemnations of the conflict with Georgia to McCain’s repeated claim of seeing the letters K-G-B in Putin’s eyes. But the Russian perspective has seen little attention.

Yuri Mamchur, a Russian national, serves as Director of Discovery Institute’s Real Russia Project and writes at “Russia Blog.”

Despite notoriously dangerous conditions for reporters in Russia, he argues that Russian coverage of the U.S. presidential election has in some ways exceeded American coverage.

Russians get news on American elections that even Americans don’t get

The Russian news media covers American elections in almost greater detail than the American media does. Russian readers can find plenty of information about both American presidential candidates, the scandal involving Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, an alleged murder conspiracy against Obama, Sarah Palin’s love for fine clothes and hockey, and Barack’s infomercial blanketing of American TV channels. However, the Russian mainstream media also gives a fair amount of coverage to minor party American presidential candidates, who, somehow, are largely ignored in their own country.

Debates in a Margin of Error” by Gazeta.ru (Russia’s most popular online news source) describes the debates between independent candidate Ralph Nader and constitutionalist candidate Chuck Baldwin. According to Gazeta.ru, the debates took place at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. and were attended by “journalists and students of the Washington University.” The presidential candidate of the Green Party, Cynthia McKinney, and the Libertarian candidate Robert Barr did not attend the debates because of their “conflict of schedules.” The correspondent for Gazeta.ru was disappointed with the lack of contention between the two debating candidates. Basically, both Nader and Baldwin agreed that the bi-partisan system is old and ineffective, Americans need “change”, and the free market can do a better job than the government.

“Smaller parties,” said Nader, “were always the first ones to raise the issues of social justice, and only later their findings were used by Republicans and Democrats.”

“The free market always works,” said Baldwin. He promised to “dismiss the Federal Reserve and to take away any government help from private companies.” Nader agreed with the statement, evaluated as “risky” by theGazeta.ru reporter. Nader added that he is delighted to see “the evident collapse of corporate capitalist ideology.”

In general, Russian journalists report with more humor than their Western counterparts. The titles of the articles are funny (at least in Russian): “Veteran Still Holding Up,” “Conversations About Putin’s Eyes,” “Overcharge in Insignificant Donations,” “Crisis Hits the Republicans,” “Plumber Joe Quarrel with the Candidates,” “Bush Without Make Up,” “Obama Threatened by Skinheads/Losers,” etc.

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