Ron Paul with Tim Russert

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.

He was not as tough in a September Meet the Press interview with Hillary Clinton. I don’t think he was as tough on Barack Obama on Meet the Press either.

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.

2 comments to Ron Paul with Tim Russert

  • Thoughtful commentary. Nice job on looking at prior interviews. I too was taken aback by the depth of the quotes Russert’s staff dredged up. But I knew Paul would handle it well, and he did.

    He had time for the most part to respond, and he often refused to allow Russert to move on before replying. Paul did well.

    As you said, Russert used side comments from reporters on Paul rather than video or audio clips of his 1988 campaign, so the “quotes” are debatable in accuracy.

  • On target commentary, and I agree with you. Watching Meet the Press today was my husband’s first real exposure to Ron Paul’s platform. About halfway through I thought “Oh, no! A mockery of Ron Paul by Tim Russert!” But I do believe that he went after the other candidates just as viciously. I don’t think he seemed as prepared today as I have seen him in the past, but he did fine.