A new report shows that Mitt Romney used FOX news as an escape valve from the rest of the journalism community during the 2012 election.
September 6, 2013

[oldembed src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U16N2DJLzhc" width="420" height="265" resize="1" fid="21"]

This is an amazing story for its honesty. Most of us know that Fox News functions as the GOP's home base of operations, but did you know that Mitt Romney used Fox as a way to hide out from the rest of the journalists that were covering the 2012 election?

Harvard University's Shorenstein Center just released an exhaustive report by CNN political reporter Peter Hamby dissecting the performance of the political news media during the 2012 presidential campaign through the case study of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. It deals primarily with the rise of rapid-fire online journalism and how hyper-aggressive reporters seeking to meet demands for content and make names for themselves caused problems for Romney team as they strove to stay on message. Romney's campaign, Hamby wrote, was particularly vulnerable to this dynamic and was constantly looking for ways to get its message out without having to deal with the "frenzy" of reporters and their interminable questions.

That's where Fox News came in.

Hamby talked to Eric Fehrnstrom, political consultant and senior adviser to Romney, about how the Romney campaign approached the media. Per Fehrnstrom, the strategy was to limit access to the group of reporters traveling with Romney whenever possible, and instead make the candidate available for interviews on Fox News, because with Fox the campaign knew which questions were coming and knew that Romney wouldn't get hit with too many follow-up queries:

He said the campaign would rather sit the candidate down for an interview with Fox News than take questions from his press corps. At Fox, he said, the candidate could safely explain himself without being pressed by a crowd of news-starved reporters. "We'd much rather go on a Fox program where we know the question is going to come up and Mitt can give his answer and it's not going to a frenzy of questioning," Fehrnstrom said. "He will be able to give his response. There may be a follow up or two, and then that's it. The frenzy is not something that you would willingly do if you had other options. It's like here you can either do this frenzied news conference, or we can do a more sedate studio appearance with Sean Hannity. I'd take the sedate over the frenzy any day."

That's a fairly amazing statement. Fox has become so integral to national Republican politics that senior campaign staffers freely talk about its unique role in campaign strategy. Presumably other cable or broadcast networks could also provide a comparatively "sedate" environment for a candidate looking to escape the "frenzy" of the traveling press, but they chose Fox for a reason. For candidates like Romney, Fox is a sanctuary from the rest of the media where the candidate's message can get out there without anyone challenging it. "There may be a follow up or two, and then that's it."journalists that were covering the 2012 election?

I concede that campaigns can be overwhelmed with the social media aspect of today's journalism, but Romney's team really messed up because by only talking to people that are going to vote for you in a general election all but spells disaster for that campaign. And indeed it was a disaster. But the GOP is not taking the lessons that should have been learned by team Romney in 2012 and instead are doubling down on only talking to their peeps.

Reince Priebus will make sure of that.

In a highly anticipated move, the Republican National Committee voted unanimously on Friday to deny NBC and CNN the rights to host or sponsor a Republican primary debate unless those two networks cancel their respective Hillary Clinton film projects.

"CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors’ networks," RNC chairman Reince Priebus told the committee members in Boston. While NBC and CNN's competitors stand to benefit from the RNC's decision, there's another potential winner who has gone unmentioned: Univision.

On Friday, RNC communications director Sean Spicer told POLITICO that the boycott would extend to NBC and CNN's Spanish-language channels: Telemundo and CNN Español. "My understanding is that they both would be excluded," Spicer wrote in an email.

That leaves Univision, the country's leading Spanish-language network, as the obvious go-to for any Republican primary debate targeted toward America's rapidly growing Latino population, which the GOP is desperate to make inroads with in 2016. The Republicans did not hold formal debates with any of the three Spanish-language channels in 2012, though they did hold a "presidential forum" with Univision. But more importantly, all CNN debates were broadcast to America's Spanish-speaking population on CNN Español. Without that channel, the RNC will need to find another avenue to reach Latino voters.

Although Rush Limbaugh has said that he's too famous to moderate a GOP debate, I'm sure there are many ditto heads that will jump at the chance. Wouldn't it be grand though if let's say a Laura Ingraham got the chance to question Gov. Chris Christie during a debate since she sees him as a traitor to the GOP as do many other right wing pundits out there.

Bill O’Reilly complained about him. Rush Limbaugh called him “fat” and a “fool.” Dick Morris argued that he had cost Mitt Romney the presidency.
On right-wing radio, Fox News and Twitter feeds, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has been taking a pounding from high-profile personalities, who said his abundant praise of President Obama’s leadership of the recovery after Hurricane Sandy helped snuff out Republican hopes of capturing the White House.

“Judas,” they called Mr. Christie. “Traitor.”

Or worse.

“It would not surprise me,” the radio host Laura Ingrahamsaid on Tuesday, “if Chris Christie at some point became a Democrat.”

Many Republicans will not get a fair shake in a FOX News only set of GOP debates so I'm all for it. You go run with it.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.