While the President makes the rounds and takes questions in situations where “anything can happen”, Romney won’t come on – he’s avoiding the Kids, MTV, Rock Center, Letterman, O’Reilly, and more.
On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell tackled Romney’s lack of confidence, “The President did at least seven affiliate interviews, a handful of radio interviews and a live interview for the under-30 crowd on MTV.”
TRANSCRIPT via MSNBC with modifications/clarifications:
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: With just 11 days until election, President Obama made the media rounds this week, in between a nonstop campaign scheduled today alone, the president did at least seven affiliate interviews, a handful of radio interviews and a live interview for the under-30 crowd on MTV.
Mitt Romney on the other hand is playing hard to get.
ROLL MONTAGE CLIP OF MEDIA OUTLETS TRYING TO GET ROMNEY ON FOR INTERVIEW:
Nickelodeon: Although it was last April when we began requesting that former governor Romney answer your questions, his team has told us he’s been, quote, unable to fit it in, unquote.
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: We should also know once again, we’ve asked for the chance to spend similar time with the Romney campaign.
MTV: Of course we extended the same offer to governor Romney and we hoped to be able to bring you that interview sometime soon.
MTV’S SWAY CALLOWAY: He (Obama) said he’s anxious to get out there and get the message across in terms of young voters and talk about the issues that matter the most for them. And he believed that light night talk show hosts make better interviewers because it allows him to loosen up.
LOD: he also has to be comfort enough to do this. Because he doesn’t know what Sway is going to come up with. You had questions from some viewers and all that, tweeted questions all that stuff.
SWAY: Facebook and tweets.
LOD: And anything can happen in those situations. And that seems to be what mitt Romney is afraid of, is those anything can happen situations.
LOD: There were two shows, two very big ones, by which I mean tall. Complaining about this last night. Let’s look at David Letterman and Bill O’Rielly.
LETTERMAN: We have our own little problem.
O’REILLY: Romney won’t come on. He’s not coming on at all.
LETTERMAN: He doesn’t have to come on.
O’REILLY: I think you and I because he’s not on “The Factor.” We should go together and just confront him.
Mitt Romney has had a long standing policy of avoiding the media at all costs. He broke with this to do a few interviews during his summer gaffe-filled diplomacy gone wrong tour, but he only allowed 6 questions in pressers during his entire tour.
Romney has refused to take questions from children, from MTV, from late night hosts, from mainstream outlets and even from Fox News.
Once again, we find in this one issue an attitude that should disqualify Romney from even running for office. If he is this afraid of the press now, how will he treat the fourth estate should he become president?
We need more transparency, not less.
The interviews done this week with the President, especially the Jon Stewart and MTV interviews, provided a chance to hear him discuss issues the mainstream media doesn’t address, like climate change. At one point in the Stewart interview, we almost got into the finer points of laws like the Patriot Act, which would have been fascinating because we never hear the President’s take on pre-existing laws that he has tweaked but kept in place. Sadly, after warning Stewart that it wasn’t sexy but starting to get into it, they had to break.
Still, we got something specific from these interviews that we don’t from mainstream outlets. We got to hear the President’s thought process in a way that reveals his values. Spontaneous interviews and live interviews provide that context and transparency, and it’s a shame that Mitt Romney refuses to do them.
Romney prefers to control his interviews tightly, which is next to impossible in a live interview situation. Romney rarely sits for even scripted, edited interviews to begin with, but when he does, he has refused to appear until the hosts agree to say the things he wants them to:
Univision says that during his townhall with them, not only did the Romney campaign pack the hall with non-students because they couldn’t find enough supporters on campus, but when the anchor gave an introduction to Mitt that he didn’t like, he refused to go on until they re-taped it. A Republican present called it a “temper tantrum”.
This allows a candidate to perpetuate a false reality for viewers.
Avoiding the press services Romney’s lies. After Romney’s egregious and outrageous lie about Jeep moving jobs to China — told in an Ohio auto industry county — The Detroit Free Press (a conservative paper that endorsed Romney, by the way) wrote that the Romney campaign refused to answer questions about Romney’s incorrect reading:
If Mitt Romney knows Chrysler will keep making Jeeps in Detroit and Toledo, neither he nor his staffers acknowledged it Friday.
A spokesman for the Republican presidential candidate declined to answer questions about the candidate’s incorrect reading of a news report that Chrysler was considering moving all Jeep production to China.
The President sat for questions in a Reddit IAmA chat, while the Romney campaign — afraid of the crowdsourced intellect of Reddit — stuck Paul Ryan on Quora where he dodged questions. Romney was too afraid to appear on The View, saying that there was only one conservative on the show. If he can’t handle Nickelodeon or The View, how would he handle Putin?
Romney’s fear and loathing of the press goes back to his father’s bad experiences during his run for the White House, but there’s no excuse for avoiding the press and certainly no excuse to avoid direct questions from voters. The fourth estate is an essential part of our democracy. While we might not like what the candidates say or agree with them on everything, it is more important that they are at least willing to subject themselves to the people’s scrutiny and questions. To refuse to do so should be a disqualifier.
It should trouble all Americans that Romney has this attitude toward the press, and it begs the question, what is he so afraid of?