Bob Schieffer Asks the Question: Why Does Romney Only Do Fox?

Our political Question of the Day comes from CBS’ Bob Schieffer, who, as I’ve said before, should have been the successor to Walter Cronkite. But it’s a question that has an answer I’m sure Mr. Schieffer knows and journalists know — and Democrats and Republicans know.

Once again on Sunday, he hit Ed Gillespie mid-talking point (as Robert Gibbs chuckled).

“You think we’re ever going to see [Mitt Romney] on one of these Sunday morning interview shows? I know he does Fox, but we’d love to have him some time, as would “Meet the Press” and the ABC folk, I would guess,” the CBS “Face the Nation” host asked Sunday.

Gillespie, an adviser to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, pointed out that Romney spoke “to schoolchildren last week.”

Then, he said he’d take Schieffer’s suggestion under careful consideration. “We’ll have to consider a number of options, and I’m sure the morning shows are [some] of them,” Gillespie said.

Schieffer, pointedly, politely replied: “I know schoolchildren are happy to see him.”

Even a carton of cottage cheese sitting on the shelf at Albertson’s grocery store in San Diego knows the real answer to that one.

Romney is following the path of many conservative Republicans in using Fox News as a way to avoid having to answer those pesky, non public relations, non softball questions and follow up questions that he’d get on CBS, NBC, ABC — or, for that matter, by holding the kind of press conference Barack Obama does and take questions from the press.

With the exception of an occasional question from Chris Wallace or Bill O’Reilly indicating they have strayed from the operative political program, Fox News is where Republicans running from office know they will get a)long segments and lots of air time almost any time they want to go on b)softball questions or leading questions where the candidate can regurgitate talking points, try out new attack lines c)a huge audience since Fox News is the ratings leader d)an audience of Republican partisan and independents who lean Republican but probably not liberals, centrists or independent voters who suspect Fox News’ “Fair and Balanced” actually refers to the New York State Fair and Roger Aisles checkbook.

Sean Hannity in particular (whose contract was just renewed by Fox) is a huge hit with partisans in his incarnation of political defense lawyer (for Republicans and conservatives) and political prosecutor (of Democrats, liberals, and moderates).

When he interviews Republicans, Hannity plays softball more often than we did when I was a kid living on Knollwood Drive in New Haven, Connecticut.

It’s all matter of P.R — and staying on script: now that the Republican primaries are over and the GOP is unifying around Romney, if Romney gets off script and makes a gaffe on Fox News, more likely than not his interviewer would gloss over the gaffe, try to discreetly explain it away and re-ask the question so he can answer it in a more advantageous way.

But, above all, on Fox News there won’t be tough follow up questions.

On Fox Romney won’t have to face serious “gotcha” questions because the “gotcha” questions are often tough questions or require answers that might not have been expected so there is no answer to vomit up just like the partisan, talking points reciting, talking head spinners and surrogates do all the time on cable news shows.

On the other hand, Fox News’ critics shouldn’t forget that the network has a huge staff and there are highly professional news gatherers there and some anchors who haven’t become as predictable as the political emails I get in the mail where you just see a name on it and you know exactly what it’ll say.

My prediction: Romney will do some kind of big non-Fox interview before the election and he’ll be equipped before hand with some zingers aimed at the press, emulating Newt Gingrich. Romney may get follow ups but he may choose not to answer them or to change the subject by going after the press — which will bring cheers from his supporters and generate lots of sound bites, news stories and blog posts that will overshadow the question he ignored.

Meet the Press? Maybe. Face the Nation? Maybe.

Lots of Fox News and Sean Hannity? And softball questions to GOPer Romney from Hannity?

Definitely.

And what’s true today would not have been true 10 years ago: Romney can get away with it.

10 Comments

  1. Probably similar reason as to why Obama doesn’t appear on Fox.

  2. Would be nice to see him on Face the Nation. Schieffer is in the same mold as Russert was on Meet the Press. Foregoing David Gregory on NBC is smart as Gregory is an as* when it comes to anyone whose views are center or right. Would fit in nicely with MSNBC. As for ABC, only need to look back on the contraception question as to the legality of states being involved during the Republican debates to see why he does not appear with them.

  3. blisskid, there are local Fox News affiliates that do a FINE job of news gathering and analysis. Even though they are local, they are under FOX News employ.

  4. gwwelch, “Probably similar reason as to why Obama doesn’t appear on Fox.”

    First of all Obama gives press conferences, which include reporters of all stripes.
    Second of all, I don’t believe that ABC, CBS or NBC “coddle” the president with softball questions.
    Third of all, Fox folks tend to interrupt and get into shouting matches with the people they interview unless that person is a conservative Republican.
    Fourth of all, Obama has been interviewed on Fox.

  5. Your prediction about Mitt’s eventual non-Fox interview is spot on, but with all due respect, you’re not exactly going out on a limb, Joe.

    Sarah Palin provided the model, which was probably going to be used regardless of which candidate won the GOP’s Olympics of Banality.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Romney campaign already has the press releases prepared, describing how Willard braved the “liberal media” gauntlet, only to be trashed by (fill in the interviewer here).

  6. I don’t get into comments often but, yes, Fox has news professionals who on some stories do solid reporting, it has professionals who man the cameras. No every single employee of Fox isn’t a political activist or a clone of some of the talent. And it’s not playing a game of trying to pretend to be moderate; I worked in the news biz for some year and know many people in it. I know it ruins the ideological narrative to suggest that Fox has some news and technical pros there but it is a fact. Of course, I’m sure facts don’t matter. I worked on a newspaper that had a reputation of being very conservative. That was true in its editorials: not all editors and reporters. It is not accurate to suggest every person at Fox is like Sean Hannity.

  7. Welcome Blisskid< Please read the commenters’ rules at the top of the masthead. We keep a civil commenting area. Keep to the topic of the article, not the writer, not other commenters, not the site. Debate, discuss, teach with your facts and opinions about the topic in a civil manner.

    Thanks,
    archangel/dr.e

  8. While FOX of course has quite a bit of serious newsfolks in their stable of resources, its the big name hacks that made their bones schilling for the GOP that are what really put FOX News on the map. There’s a ton of people out there that really need to have proper analysis of events removed from the equation so it all fits nicely into their preconceived notions of how the world is. FOX News provides for them.

  9. Romney knows that his campaign’s promises and criticism of Obama do not pass the smell test. On FOX he can just sit back and relax, knowing that he is among allies. His purpose it to get elected and so is theirs. Not to say that ALL FOX News personnel are biased and unprofessional– but they aren’t exactly going to hold his feet to the fire and point out all of the inconsistencies and untruth in his claims either

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