April 22nd, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Reliable Sources panel on Romney's accusations of a 'left wing' media

The Sunday, April 22 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources featured a media panel discussion on the coverage of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romey's campaign for president.  A highlighted excerpt from this interview is below.

Mandatory citation: CNN's Reliable Sources:

KURTZ:  Mitt Romney has done six cable news interviews in the last four weeks, five of them with FOX News.  Now that he's emerged as the unofficial Republican nominee, Romney is still keeping the national media at arm's length, still granting little access to the reporters who cover him - and now, in an interview with Breitbart TV, accusing journalists of being in the tank for the other guy.

            (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LARRY O'CONNOR, BREITBART NEWS:  These organizations who are attacking you were nonprofit and they're working with the campaign.  Hopefully, we can call on you to - or have you call on an investigation for them?

ROMNEY:  I don't know how much is related to breaking the law and how much is this related to the fact that many in the media are inclined to do the president's bidding and I - you know, I know that's a battle, that's an uphill battle we fight with the media generally.

            (END AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ:  So what should he make of this more adversarial stance, and what about the recent reporting on Romney's religion?  Joining us now in New York, Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed.com.  And here in Washington, Jennifer Rubin, author of "The Washington Post" "Right Turn" blog; and Bill Press, host of Current TV's "Full Court Press" and his Sirius XM radio show.

Ben Smith, Romney hasn't been, as I said, a big media basher.  Just three weeks ago, he was saluting the newspaper Association of America, responsible, accurate, relevant press.  So, now that he has taken this shot, does he risk further alienating the people in the press?

BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED.COM:  You know, I think that old line about not alienating people who buy ink by the barrel is long gone.  You see, it's almost part of politics now to attack the press.  Barack Obama did it constantly in 2008.  Sneered at the cable news cycle in particular.

And I think for Republicans right now to say to the press, I think it's almost part of the party platform that the press is biased against you.

KURTZ:  Jennifer Rubin, Romney has been doing a lot of interviews with local television stations.

JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST:  Yes.

KURTZ:  But, can you run in a general election as opposed to Republican primary mainly by dealing with the conservative media?

RUBIN:  No.  I don't think so.  And actually, he hasn't been very friendly to the conservative media either.  He's - as you have written and I have written, he had a rather hostile relationship with them.

KURTZ:  You interviewed him once.

RUBIN:  I interviewed him once.  Many on the conservative side, "National Review" has interviewed him.  Many others have not.      I think this is a mistake.  It has been a mistake.  I have written him throughout that he should be more accessible.  He's a pretty good spokesman for his own cause.

KURTZ:  So, why is he so wary of the press in general and even the conservative media in particular?

RUBIN:  I think this goes to the overall caution of the campaign, the desire not to make any mistakes.  But I think by restricting him, it highlights each and every incident so that if he makes a small mistake in one, it really stands out.  If he did more of these, it would sort of blend into the background.

KURTZ:  I think you're right.  When you do so few, then everyone becomes more of a tension-filled event.  And,  Bill Press, reporters shouldn't treat Romney any differently even though they're spending all their employer's money to fly with him around the country, and he barely does any press availability, but inevitably, this is kind of an undercurrent of resentment, is there not?

BILL PRESS, CURRENT TV:  Well, there is.  But I have to tell you - you know what?  I am just sick and tired of all these politicians, all of them, whining about the media.  Give me a break.  You know?  Look, first of all, I also want to say that Romney has been treated poorly by the conservative media.  I mean, Joe Scarborough says he doesn't know one Republican that he talks to that thinks Romney is going to win.

Now, that's not like helping his case.  So - I mean, Santorum and Gingrich complain about FOX.  Not so long ago, they were on FOX's payroll, and now Mitt Romney - I think the truth is they all have gotten pretty fair treatment.  Better than they deserve in most cases.

RUBIN:  Well, I would like to second that, and I have made that rant on this program as well that conservatives - at least candidates, whine about this way too much.  And they sound like victims.  Voters aren't interested in this.  It's fine for all of us to critique and the media should be held to a standard.

KURTZ:  Right.

RUBIN:  But for candidates themselves, I think it comes across as kind of whiny.

PRESS:  And can I just point out?  It wasn't a reporter who said the trees are just the right size in Michigan.

KURTZ:  Here we go –

PRESS:  I mean, all of those things, they say them.

KURTZ:  He says some things that he'd probably wish he hadn't said.

CNN's Reliable Sources airs Sundays on CNN at 11:00am ET.  A full transcript for this program may be found here.

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