[There was a video here]
The candidates still narrow the agenda. That is, the voters are not propelling into the electoral arena and debate the kind of things like cracking down on corporate crime in the ghettos against consumers, against workers. They’re not pushing in the issues on housing and public transit and empire abroad. They’re not pushing for restoration and rebuilding of our public works the facilities in every community that are crumbling. We’ve seen ‘em: bridges, highways, water/sewage systems, public transit.
I think one of the problems here is the media’s not rising to the level of its significance under the First Amendment. It’s letting itself be dragged down, in the Republican area for sure—the debates—to what is the canine equivalent of barks, growls, and grunts. You know, just five-second sallies against one another—Cruz, Rubio, and all these people, Trump. And it’s extremely vacuous. I was gonna say it’s about the seventh grade level, but didn’t want to insult the seventh graders.
So it is important for the media to say, “What about all these citizen groups all over the country? Why aren’t they given voice in the election? Why is there a wall against the urban groups, the housing groups and the transit and healthcare groups, the environment and the consumer groups, that work their heads off?” They’re totally excluded from these elections, which are, in turn, excluded from the arena of a democratic society. It’s a circus.
Smiley followed up with a question about Trump, about whom Nader had this to say:
Trump knows, better than any candidate, that the media’s looking for entertainment because that’s what gets them ratings. And for the first time, the ratings have become the business proposition that he is parading in front of them: “Oh, I won’t be on this debate Fox, you’re going to lose millions of dollars in advertising.” This is a relatively new taunt by a Presidential candidate.
And what’s even more amazing is that you’ve got private media, for-profit, commercial corporations deciding the format of these debates. One time it’s Fox, one time it’s CNN, one time it’s NBC. These are profit-making corporations deciding who gets on Tier 1, who gets on Tier 2, who doesn’t get on at all, like the former head of the I.R.S. and Immigration Service Mark Everson, who went into every Iowa county before anyone else did, never got on any debate because he didn’t have a big PAC, he didn’t have a bundle of money. He’s the only one who had any executive experience. Who makes those decisions? Profit-making media corporations. So this is the next step of further decay after the Presidential Debate Commission, which is funded by Anheuser-Busch and AT&T and Ford in the past—it was a creation of the Republican Democratic Party—to decide who gets on the national debates, who can reach tens of millions of people, and who cannot.
Smart guy, that Ralph Nader.