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Opening Arguments

Gag order

First, we had the news about the Obama team dictating the subjects to be covered by interviews with the "local media." Now he find out Mitt Romney wants to play the same game:

Dems and many media outlets are pouncing on the news that a reporter at a Denver TV station revealed on the air today that she’d gotten an interview with Mitt Romney on the condition that she not ask him about the Todd Akin mess.

“The one stipulation for the interview was that I not ask him about abortion or Todd Akin,” the KCNC-TV reporter, Shaun Boyd, said on the air today. Here’s the video.

[. . .]

"Yesterday morning we were contacted by the campaign, KCNC-TV news director Tim Wieland told me. “We were told that we were being offered an opportuinty to inteview Mitt Romney during a five minute sattelite today.”

“We said we’d be very interested,” Wieland told me. “At the time, they said, `well, we have to tell you that he doesn’t want to talk about abortion.’ ”

[. . .]

Wieland said the station decided to take the deal because there were many other topics to ask Romney about, and because the station could be clear about the ground rules on the air.

I guess putting a topic off-limits is slightly less manipulative than setting the whole interview agenda, but both are the kind of impulses that routinely come from politicians whose successes depend on spinning reality rather than defining it. As for accepting the deal "because there were many other topics to ask Romney about," explaing those ground rules on the air doesn't erase the impression of a press that's being used. Politicians and other interview subjects are always at the mercy of incompetent reporters or ones with an agenda. But seeing how the subjects deal with that kind of journalism is part of knowing whether we should trust them with public office.


Harl Delos
Fri, 08/24/2012 - 11:23am

Should we really be talking about "ground rules" when  these stations broadcast over the air instead of going through coaxial cable?

In fact, one of the affected stations is WHIO, which broadcasts Dayton Flyers games.