- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are polling collectively at 11 percent, but they’re receiving less than 1 percent of the network coverage.

A study released Tuesday by the conservative Media Research Center found that the networks only dedicated 0.05 percent of their evening news airtime to third-party candidates, including Independent Evan McMullin, despite high dissatisfaction with the two major-party candidates.

“[T]he broadcast network evening newscasts are essentially blacking out the existence of alternatives to Clinton and Trump — a potentially fatal blow to candidates who are required to average 15 percent support to qualify for the upcoming presidential debates,” reported MRC NewsBusters.

The rest of the coverage was split between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who received the lion’s share with 1,773 minutes of airtime, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who saw 1,020 minutes.

The analysis tallied 1,713 campaign stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. Cable news channels like Fox and CNN were not included.

Mr. Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, is taking 8.1 percent in recent polls, the highest since Reform Party candidate Ross Perot in 1996, while the Green Party’s Stein is pulling 3 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics averages.

“Since the primaries ended on June 7, the networks’ focus has stayed on Trump, who received 705 minutes of coverage — much of it about various controversies — vs. 437 minutes for Clinton,” said the report.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein have fared better on cable news: CNN featured the candidates in separate televised town halls last month for the Libertarian Party and Green Party.

The dearth of network attention comes even though both candidates are poised to break turnout records in November. Mr. Johnson is expected to exceed easily the 1.2 million votes he received in 2012, the most in Libertarian Party history.

Meanwhile, Ms. Stein may surpass Green Party nominee Ralph Nader, who earned 2.88 million votes for 2.74 percent in 2000, the most in the party’s history.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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