Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Does it matter that Mitt Romney is avoiding non-Fox media?

Politico ran a short item the other day about Bob Schieffer asking Mitt Romney advisor Ed Gillepsie why his candidate only goes on Fox. The Face the Nation host put it this way:

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.

Gillespie responded by saying that Romney "spoke to school children last week," though I am not sure what question that answered.

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Then, [Gillespie] 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."

Well, that's all very cute, but it does beg the question whether you can run for the presidency more or less exclusively through Fox News? It may be one thing to secure the GOP nomination, though even there I recall Romney got a bit of a rough ride on Fox from time to time. On the one hand, so few people as a percentage of the voting universe watch public affairs programs that it probably doesn't matter. What can matter, though, is the way reporters for various other networks, that are not Fox News, will frame stories if you avoid them.

One of the best lines in a television show about politics I ever heard was a comment by fictional press secretary Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, who said that it is never a good idea to pick a fight with anyone who buys printers ink by the barrel. Metaphorically speaking, he obviously meant the press in general, that it was bad to make them angry and better to have a good working relationship with them.I know the right has talked foolishly about the biases of the mainstream media (MSM), and I know this plays well with certain parts of their constituency. I don't think it plays well with the mainstream of the country, the kind of people you need to vote for you outside your conservative base if you hope to win the presidency.

Again, I don't know that Romney can't succeed by ignoring the MSM, but I think it is foolish to try.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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