Two Conflicting Takes on the CBS News Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Interview

By Alex Weprin 

Everyone agrees (even if their arguments are specious). The CBS News “60 Minutes” interview with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan was totally biased. Don’t believe me? Politico’s Dylan Byers argues:

For the second time this cycle, Romney has given an exclusive, in-person interview to the CBS anchor and “Face The Nation” host, and once again Schieffer has rewarded Romney — and in this case, his running mate Paul Ryan — with softball questions and no follow-ups.

Sure, Brian Stelter at the NY Times reports that Romney’s camp actually gave the interview to “60 Minutes” specifically, and did not seek out Schieffer, but let’s not ruin the narrative. “60 Minutes” after all would guarantee the largest audience for the interview, especially with the PGA Championship as a lead-in. In addition, it attracts a more generalist audience, and not the wonky crowd that the Sunday shows often do.

Mr. Schieffer was not a part of the original pitch this time. The “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley had been the one courting the Romney campaign for the first running mate interview, but when the surprise announcement came on Saturday, Mr. Pelley was out of the country.

On the other hand, “Fox & Friends” this morning felt that CBS was totally unfair to Romney and Ryan:

“It was interesting that if you watched ‘60 minutes,’ you had like a 20 minute piece here, and a 20 minute piece here, and then their interview was a lot shorter,’ anchor Ainsley Earhardt said.

“I found it very interesting that 60 minutes played 15 Minutes of the interview when they could have gone the full hour,” Eric Bolling said on the program just after 7 AM.  “I’m sure they would have rated better had they stuck with that for the hour.”

Of course, the Romney camp apparently only gave CBS around 20 minutes to interview the candidates, so they couldn’t do the full hour if they wanted to. In addition, it is pretty typical to cut some questions and answers out of pre-taped interviews for time reasons. The interview was shoehorned into an existing program with existing commercial pods and segments already ready to go.