At first glance, I thought the Ron Paul interview this morning with Tim Russert on Meet the Press was a hatchet job. Russert went after Ron Paul from the very beginning. He twisted Ron Paul’s words, and ignored the focus of his campaign. He kept going back to things from the Ron Paul libertarian campaign for president in 1988, often with side quotes from the press rather than direct quotes from the candidate.
But I took a second look, thinking that he probably wasn’t as tough on other candidates. I was wrong. Take a look at this interview by Tim Russert with Rudy Giuliani. Russert really went after Giuliani on a number of things, including personal issues like having taxpayers pay for security for his mistress. Also look at Tim Russert interviewing Mitt Romney. I don’t think he was quite as harsh on Romney, but he did hit him with flip-flops from past campaigns.
After reviewing all of that, Russert should be applauded for having Ron Paul on his show. This interview was shortly before the upcoming caucus in Iowa and primary in New Hampshire. By contrast, John Edwards has not been on the show since February of 2007. It would have been nice if some of the questions dealt with positives of the Ron Paul campaign. But the big lesson here is not about attacking the mainstream media. The bigger lesson is that Ron Paul did a good job on the show, but not a great job. My wife, who is not a Ron Paul supporter, said that he did handle himself well. But I think he could have done better at turning the questions to the positives in his campaign. He usually does better at this, and he did it somewhat, but I don’t think he was prepared for how vicious Russert was.
I do think Russert went after Ron Paul more than he did any of the other candidates. We can’t change how the mainstream media will treat a Ron Paul style candidate. But our candidates can adapt, and learn how to answer their questions better. Hopefully Ron Paul will have more interviews like this with the mainstream media, and he will do a better job in the future. Not that he did terrible mind you, but he could do better. I’m sure he will learn from this experience and he will improve.