Howard Kurtz Plays the 'Liberal Media' Card for Mitt Romney
You know how you can tell an attack ad from Democrats is working? The right wing and our corporate media start telling you to knock it off. CNN's Howard Kurtz gave the viewers of The Situation Room a preview of what we can expect on his show this Sunday and surprise, surprise, it's a big healthy dose of false equivalencies and pretending he's concerned about that nonexistent "liberal media" being seen as carrying water for the Obama campaign.
Sorry Howie, but telling the truth about Bain Capital and actual journalism and asking Romney to let people see his tax returns is not the equivalent of Fox noise running a recording of Rev. Jeremiah Wright in an endless loop. And the only types that are going to be "concerned" about that perception are Villager hacks like yourself, the Romney campaign and the right wing media at Fox, hate talk radio, right wing blogs and a whole bunch of outlets that are going to do their best to give cover to Mitt Romney, as you just did here.
Kurtz also throws out that right-wing canard that President Obama wasn't scrutinized by the press when he ran against Hillary Clinton in the primary last time around. I think Howie's been spending too much time paling around with Sean Hannity, because that's the type of crap we hear on his show night after night on Fox.
Lauren Ashburn, who appeared with Kurtz is exactly right, and it's the Romney campaign's fault for not seeing that this was going to be coming and being better prepared for how to deal with questions about his time at Bain. You know Kurtz is over the top when even Wolf Blitzer is telling him he's surprised by what he's saying and had to point out to him that if you're going to run for President, everything's fair game and Romney's using his business background as his "credential for running and saying he's going to fix the economy," not that it made most of the rest of this segment and Blitzer's comments any less hackish as well.
All of them poo-pooed the Romney's obvious race baiting at the NAACP, calling it a "conspiracy theory." Yeah, that's a "conspiracy theory" just like The Southern Strategy is a conspiracy theory, or in other words, it's not. Republicans have been race baiting to win elections for ages now, whether any of these birds wants to admit it or not.
Transcript below the fold.
BLITZER: A huge story is developing right now. Mitt Romney's sitting down for a one-on-one interview today. You're going to se him here in THE SITUATION ROOM, as I've been pointing out, in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
Romney's decision comes just one day after "The Boston Globe" started a firestorm by raising serious questions about when he left Bain Capital.
Joining us, two guests, Howard Kurtz , the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," and "Newsweek's" Washington bureau chief.
Also joining us, Lauren Ashburn, the editor and chief of "The Daily- Download".
Thanks to both of you for coming in.
Howie, let me start with you. He's doing what they call a round-robin series of interviews. All five of the television networks, news organizations, speaking deciding suddenly to give all these interviews. Our Jim Acosta is going to be interviewing him as well.
What do you think is behind this strategy? Not the first time a candidate or another senior official has done what we call a round- robin series of interviews.
HOWARD KURTZ: Well, it's about time because Romney has been getting hammered, not just by the Obama campaign and Democrats, but by the media, which we can talk about, over not just when he left Bain Capital but offshore bank accounts, when he's going to release his tax returns. Romney is very reluctant to talk to the press, individual networks. Now he's doing five at once. They've decided they have to push back hard.
BLITZER: Why do you think he's doing it?
LAUREN ASHBURN: I think he's doing it because he has to. Any unanswered question doesn't bring silence, it brings more questions. If you don't come out and answer these questions, you're raw meat.
BLITZER: So you don't think someone like Eric Fehrnstrom or Ed Gillespie, some of the senior advisers, if they had done a round-robin series of interviews, answering all these questions, don't you think that would have worked?
ASHBURN: Too late, it's too late -- especially when you have Stephanie Cutter from the Obama campaign coming out and saying, hey, this could be a felony. They're playing hardball. He's got to come out swinging.
BLITZER: This was after the Romney campaign said the president of the United States -- the sitting president of the United States is a liar.
KURTZ: Eric Fehrnstrom is a very important aide in the Romney campaign. He's not going to get several minutes on evening newscast, Mitt Romney can.
BLITZER: So you think this is smart on their part. Well, obviously, they've got something to say. He's got to answer these questions. Why aren't you releasing all of your income tax returns? When exactly did you leave Bain Capital? Why did you appear on these SEC documents in 2000/2001 saying you were still there when you were running the Olympic Games in Utah?
KURTZ: All legitimate questions, Wolf. But I think this may be overkill on the part of the Obama campaign. All the tonnage it's dropped on Mitt Romney's head over the many events that happened 14 or 15 years ago. I've been increasingly worried about whether the media that have been pushing a lot of these stories, "Boston Globe", "Washington Post" on outsourcing, "Vanity Fair" on Cayman Island accounts, seem to some people to be echoing the message of the Obama campaign by raising so many questions about Romney's business background.
ASHBURN: I don't agree with you. I think that, you know, when it comes to this kind of stuff, the more questions, the better. This is a man that's running for president of the United States of America. Ask the questions. Answer the questions if you want to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
WOLF BLITZER: Because if you want to be president -- you know this, surprised to hear what you're saying because no more secrets. Everything basically becomes an open book if you want to be the president of the United States.
KURTZ: I am not saying, Wolf, that journalists shouldn't be asking these questions, probing Romney's business background. It is after all his principle credential for running and saying he's going to fix the economy.
What I am saying is that when you combine all the stories, airtime, all column inches, it looks to many people -- I'll say it bluntly, like the press is giving much more aggressive scrutiny to Romney and his background than it ever gave to Barack Obama.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying and correct me if I'm wrong, that the so-called mainstream media or liberal media or whatever doing the work of the Obama campaign.
Just like four years ago the conservative media doing the work of the McCain campaign going after, you know, Barack Obama and the Reverend Wright issues and other issues that were out there.
KURTZ: I don't think journalists are intending to do that, but I think that may be the perception of many folks because of the 24/7 nature of these questions about Romney. There hasn't been basically another story that's broken through in the last 10 days.
ASHBURN: No, and that is who's fault? If they had come out earlier, if they had come out and answered questions all along about this, this would not be happening. Mitt Romney would not have to be doing a five-network blitz at 5:00 on a Friday night.
HURTZ: I would agree the Romney campaign is very coarse and doesn't help itself by keeping arm's length relationship with the press. Maybe this is a turning point. We'll see if this is a turning point.
BLITZER: Well, there have been some other stories over the past including Romney's decision, which I think was the right decision to go address the NAACP Convention in Houston. I said the other day. I don't think the president made the right decision. I think he should have gone as well, but for whatever reason he decided to pass once again on that convention.
That has nothing to do with Bain Capital, IRS. He wanted to speak to the African-American community.
ASHBURN: And he was booed. And that story did have legs for quite some time and actually I think it looked worse for the NAACP than it did for Mitt Romney in that case.
KURTZ: I agree with that. And I think the way in which some liberal commentators said that Romney went their deliberately to get booed -- too much conspiracy mongering I think on that one. But you're right that did provide a break in the otherwise endless barrage about Romney's --
BLITZER: When all the dust settles, we have almost four months to go, do you think anyone will really care about Bain Capital or IRS returns.
BLITZER: Or will they care about jobs and the economy?
ASHBURN: They care about jobs and economy. But they want to know the person in the office is someone they can trust. If this person turns out to be lying in any way, shape or form, they can't trust him.
HURTZ: If it goes to credibility, it's a serious problem for Mitt Romney. But some of these stories are so complicated, I think a lot of swing voters are more interested what he's going to do for their jobs than the job he had 15 years ago.
BLITZER: I suspect you will have a lot more on Sunday morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES" 11 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN. Am I right or wrong?
KURTZ: Excellent perception.
BLITZER: Howie, thanks very much. Laurie, thanks for coming in as well.