Much attention was given to this week’s Fox News interview with Mitt Romney during which the candidate, as is his wont, performed poorly. His interviewer, Megyn Kelly, didn’t exactly go after him, but neither was the interview the lovefest to which Romney had probably become accustomed. Fox has actually been incredibly hospitable to the candidate, to such an extent that at least one talking head is palpably annoyed:
“I don’t really know what they’re doing, NBC’s Meet The Press host David Gregory said recently. “He is becoming a Fox News contributor apparently, in terms of his interviews over there trying to reach a conservative audience.”
Romney hasn’t appeared on Gregory’s show, despite repeated public invitations. Romney’s reportedly doing an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes soon, but he hasn’t given the other networks the same love as Fox.
I think the ire is misdirected. Yes, it’s certainly pathetic that Romney, a veteran politician, so lacks confidence that he won’t take questions from an actual news organization. But that’s the least of it. If you truly want evidence of the lengths to which Romney will go to stay in friendly territory, the proof is not in his eight appearances this year with Sean Hannity. In fact, if you can believe it, Romney has found an interviewer even less objective: His biographer, Hugh Hewitt.
Hewitt is the author of A Mormon in the White House?, a work that, even by the standards of Regnery Publishing, is hardly probing. Per Regnery, Hewitt’s “provocative investigation” uncovered “[t]he key weaknesses that make McCain, Giuliani, and Jeb Bush each unelectable—and that Mitt Romney doesn’t share”; “How Romney battled against his state’s highest court and its overwhelmingly Democratic legislature on behalf of traditional marriage”; and “How Romney saved the Salt Lake City Olympic Games under the very real fear of another terrorist attack after 9/11.”
Etc. In exchange for this glorified campaign pamphlet, Romney has rewarded Hewitt with no less than four interviews this year alone, on January 26, February 7, February 23 and March 8. Perhaps these questions explain Romney’s largesse:
“Tonight, Colorado and Minnesota. Do you expect to extend your winning streak in either or both places?”
“Do you think that these gas prices, Governor Romney, are going to be a major issue through the fall? Or will they be, through the manipulation of the Strategic Oil Reserve, or something else, brought down in time to defuse the issue for the President?”
“But generally speaking, did these debates work to alert the country to the seriousness of the problems we are facing? Or did they trivialize these problems?”
“Now Governor, more generally, you ran the Olympics. You took it over when it was in a state of chaos. And you had a thousand different things going on. I’ve told people about the number of events and countries and athletes. Is running a campaign more or less complicated than running the Olympics?”
“Will you passionately fight for the military if you’re the nominee?”
And my favorite:
“Last question, Governor, quick, there’s a picture over at Hughhewitt.com of you and Mrs. Romney driving four of your grandchildren in a convertible. Is that a ’63 Nash Rambler?”
Aside from the optics of being interviewed by one’s own biographer — when was the last time Barack Obama sat down with David Remnick? — I expect in the long run, Romney’s reliance on the soft-soap treatment has probably done himself more harm than good. If Megyn Kelly ruffled his feathers, can you imagine how poorly he’ll do when he’s toe-to-toe with the president?