Yet Wallace did single out Romney shortly after an interview with former Republican candidate Rick Perry, noting on the air that the former Massachusetts governor was the only Republican candidate he had yet to interview. “We have now interviewed all the major Republican candidates in our 2012 ‘One on One’ series–except Mitt Romney,” Mr. Wallace said at the time. “He has not appeared on this program or any Sunday talk show since March of 2010. We invited Governor Romney again this week, but his campaign says he is still not ready to sit down for an interview.” Romney obliged Wallace on December 18th, sitting down for his first Sunday morning television show appearance in nearly two years. A transcript of the interview can be found here.
The Wallace interview was fairly mundane. The same assessment cannot be made regarding Romney’s interview with Fox’s Bret Baier last November 29th. Baier honed on in several topics that made Romney uncomfortable, including the resemblance between Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare program and Obamacare, his record of flip-flopping, and the fact that New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader, endorsed Newt Gingrich for president while suggesting that Romney lacked conviction.
Fair questions? Perhaps. But Baier crossed the line in a subsequent appearance on Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” when he revealed the contents of a private, post-interview conversation with Romney. Baier alleged that Romney complained that his questioning had been “overly aggressive” and “uncalled for.” “He was irritated by the interview after we were done,” Baier told O’Reilly. O’Reilly pressed the issue. “How do you know he was irritated? Did he slap you? Or what did he do?” he asked. “Well, he just made it clear at the end of the interview … He said he thought it was overly aggressive,” said Baier.
Adding to the anti-Romney intrigue at Fox was an incident best described as bizarre. In a video clip showing a picture of six out of the seven Republican candidates heading into the Iowa caucus, the photo appearing above Mitt Romney’s name was none other than president Barack Obama. Later in the broadcast, host Megyn Kelly apologized for the error. “We put a graphic on the air, that as it turns out, was incorrect,” Kelly explained. She further noted that Obama and Romney are “not the same man, not philosophically, not ideologically, not in any other way, so we apologize for that error.”
So why would Fox News be on the anti-Romney bandwagon? A number of theories are possible, but going right to the top of this list is the reality that, despite the endlessly-promoted leftist claims that Fox is a shill for the Republican party, the CMPA study reveals that this is hardly the case. Fox’s 63 percent negative bias vs. their 37 positive bias with regard to Romney is certainly less damning than the 78 percent negative vs. 22 percent positive bias demonstrated by ABC, NBC and CBS. But Romney was the only Republican presidential candidate to get a majority negative bias from all of the networks. In other words, when it comes to keeping a newscast free of opinion, Fox is merely less irresponsible than the other three news networks. Perhaps a rabid ideologue might consider the terms “less irresponsible” and “prejudicial” interchangeable. Reasonable people? Not so much.
Why is Romney getting more negative coverage than any other Republican? The simplest explanation was offered by CMPA director and George Mason University professor Robert Lichter. “The media love a horse race and hate a frontrunner,” he contends. That would be all of the media–Fox News included.
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