Yes, the Presidential debate system is seemingly rigged against the emergence of third parties and their candidates. In order to be able to even participate in the presidential debates, a candidate must poll at at least 15 percent of the vote on five separate national polls, a daunting task when a person has little name recognition.
Yes, I believe that the media only shows two sides of the presidential campaign, when, in reality, there are more parties than just republicans and democrats. In addition to the media, the debate system only highlights the two parties, and commonly only allows the two parties to debate. Publicly, and on TV, we never really see anything more than the two main parties butting heads, which can be extremely detrimental and unfair to other parties.
It is my opinion that third party candidates have little hope of winning a presidential election due to the reduced exposure to the public. It is also my belief that this is by design to give the two major parties a monopoly. The original intent of civil servants was that any citizen could serve. This is not the case in a political atmosphere that only rewards those with the largest donors and large party affiliation.
Name recognition helps many people decide which candidates they will consider voting for. Unfortunately, since the system in place now gives much air time to the two main parties, by the time the summer comes, those candidates are far ahead in terms of name recognition because they have already seen much airtime on the major networks, not to mention the headlines in the newspapers. There should be an opportunity for third-party candidates who have a certain percentage in the polls, to be on the debate stage.