As we head into the last few moments of the 2012 election, Mitt Romney has not answered a question from the media in 22 days.
Here is the video of Lawrence O’Donnell on the last time Mitt Romney answered a media question:
Mitt Romney hasn’t given a national television interview since sitting down with Wolf Blitzer on CNN 23 days ago. He has not answered a single question from the press in 22 days. Among the requests that he has turned down, Romney has refused to answer questions from children on Nickelodeon. He has refused to be interviewed and take the questions of young voters on MTV. Romney was so terrified of The View that he canceled and sent his wife in his place. He has turned down David Letterman, and every major news network including Fox News. Bill O’Reilly has been screaming at the top of his lungs trying to get an interview with Romney before election day, but the Romney campaign made it clear on October 23 that they were scheduling no more interviews. However, this ban has also extended to the members of the press who are covering Romney everyday. The pool reporters covering Romney ask questions each day, and the candidate pretends that he doesn’t hear them. This has gone on for the last 22 days.
The fourth estate is a critical pillar of our society, positioned to act as a fourth branch of government and one that is important to a functioning democracy. Even when our press is doing their job, they favor Republicans. The 4th Estate did a study between May 1 and July 15, 2012 that found, “(N)ewsmakers appearing in the media as partisan Republicans are quoted at a 44% higher rate than partisan Democrats. Additionally, the ratio of positive to negative coverage was 17.1% more critical of Obama than Romney.” What’s Romney so afraid of?
Most media outlets, including the so called “liberal” outlets, are markedly more negative in their coverage of Obama than of Romney. The 4th Estate study results confirm previous studies showing that Obama gets more negative press than Romney, particularly when it comes to covering financial information like getting rid of oil company subsidies and taxing the rich. In other words, the people’s needs are already being compromised by profit-driven news.
When a candidate avoids the press altogether, that candidate is not only allowed to craft their own narrative regardless of how far removed it may be from reality, but they also show an unwillingness to be checked by the 4th branch of government.
The press is supposed to exist to help citizens make sense of the world. They have a responsibility to be the people’s watchdog and hence are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
What does it say that Mitt Romney won’t even answer a question from the press? He has avoided answering questions on his tax plan math, Todd Akin, Robert Mourdock and now FEMA. He has refused to ever discuss his church or his beliefs, an attitude that must be a privilege only applying to Republicans as we recall how brutally Obama was grilled about Reverend Wright.
Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to value the basic tenet of democracy – the notion of checks and balances, as provided in part by the press. The press pool covering him are doing their job (unlike some of the Sunday show “journalists”), but he is just ignoring them.
The curtain the Romney campaign hung in the plane to cut the pool off even further from the candidate was symbolic of his disdain and contempt for the press. After much pushback, the campaign took the curtain down. The press is the supposed to be the people’s voice, but Romney won’t respond to their questions. The only interview he will do is with a sports journalist on Monday Night Football the night before the election.