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tv   Reliable Sources  CNN  January 8, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PST

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re60 supposedly seats four passagers which means four indians which probably translates into two americans. the correct answer to our challenge question was c, youssou n'dour, whose music will probably recognize. he's running for president of senegal. thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next week. stay tuned for "reliable sources." we're in new hampshire this morning, two days before the primary here that has become the week's pre-eminent media obsession. the press barely noticed as he campaigned across iowa month after month, deemed unworthy of attention because the pundits said he was just too far back in the polls. as journalists lurched from one efef r efeferal front-runner to the next, he didn't make the cut.
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>> rick santorum's political career will be ending soon. he will go to the republican convention next year not as a candidate but as a fox news contributor again. >> santorum has traveled all of iowa, and he's still gaining no traction. there's a reason for that. >> then of course, santorum finished in a virtual tie in the iowa caucuses. how could news outlets make this mistake again and fail to scrutinize santorum's record in the process? mitt romney faces skeptical questioning despite winning iowa because his margin was a measly eight votes. >> what does did say about your candidacy that you actually won fewer votes than but in 2008, and you fought rick santorum to a draw? >> perhaps the press is just trying to keep this race alive? plus, we'll talk to the political director of the dominant tv station, wmur, about covering the nation's first primary as a local story. i'm howard kurtz and this is the new hampshire edition of "reliable sources."
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the media narrative here in new hampshire is set. mitt romney wins easily, everyone else fights for second place. sounds right, but remember four years ago when everyone in the press was convinced that barack obama would beat hillary clinton here? so much political coverage is driven by assumptions which, in turn, are driven by polls. take a look at these interviews with rick santorum in the weeks and months before his last-minute surge in iowa. >> what space do you occupy in this race? are you the conservative, truth teller? >> you're the underdog, relatively little money, fair to say. for republicans whose main concern is to defeat barack obama in 2012, aren't there several candidates who realistically stand a better chance of doing that than you? >> with poll numbers from michele bachmann and rick perry plummeting, why are not more of the social conservatives, the so-called anti-mitt romney, why
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is that contingent not gravitating toward you? >> joining us here in manchester to talk about the campaign coverage, roger simon, chief political columnist for politico. lynn sweet, bureau chief for the "chicago sun-times." and jonathan karl, correspondent for abc news. i was at a manchester event friday packed with press. and so many voters that the fire marshals evicted everybody. and santorum ended up having the event in the parking lot. hardly anyone could hear him. that's how hot he is. for nearly a year high campaigned unmolested by reporters. in retrospect, wasn't that a major miscalculation? >> yes, short answer is yes. we did at abc -- we had our great iowa correspondent, digital correspondent out there, traveling the state with santorum. often she was alone with him catching a ride with him from event to event. but i mean, just the transformation was phenomenal. the interesting thing is that it happened with the first poll that showed him moving up. and suddenly, overnight, boom,
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he was mobbed. >> and it seems to me, roger simon, that the press creates a closed loop. santorum low in the polls. we don't cover him except for an abc producer or couple of others. he stays low in the polls. finally, the voter get to show up and register what they think. so does anything trouble you it, you know, the way we sort of marginalize this -- >> the actual voting is the least important part to us. >> the least important part? >> yeah, come on. we're a poll-driven needia. iowa is so yesterday we don't care about it anymore. where santorum tied or maybe beat mitt romney. >> coming out of nowhere. >> coming out of nowhere. well, he spent more time in iowa than anyone else. his message was -- control? wans a -- was iowans are the greatest people in the world. not great for new hampshire. he'll have to tell them they're the second greatest people and the south corolinians are the
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third greatest. what the polls show -- romney has won the nomination. >> we'll come back to that. lynn sweet, i want to read you newspaper clips from earlier. "the new york times" in october, pursuing a low budget request for the presidency. and the "washington post" speculating whether santorum might drop out after the ames straw poll. even if santorum campaign becomes little more than a token bid, many say they expect him to press on. talk about missing the boat. the guy ends up in a virtual tie or maybe winning. >> well, i would never have counseled anyone to go that way since everyone knew that there was going to be a hunts for the anti-romney candidate in iowa. and that it's no surprise. it force -- that they coalesced around someone, happened to be santorum. i wouldn't fault everyone in the media for not picking up early on that santorum would be the romney alternative.
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i think it took reasonable time to develop. he earned it. newt gingrich didn't come up in a sustained way the way people thought. partly because of the super pac negative ads. >> the old-fashioned way, he met small groups of voters in iowa. mostly unrecorded by those of us in news business. >> but not in iowa. not in iowa. >> he also earned it because everybody else blew up. really. this happened only after we went through perry, bachmann, cain, gingrich -- >> that sets up my next question. one of the factors in all those candidates blowing up is, when they looked up in the polls, they got hit with scrutiny in the media, negative stories, whether it was sexual allegations against herman cain or combing through the wreckage. now that santorum suddenly, you know, ties in iowa, here on friday, "the new york times"/"washington post" have detailed stories about santorum's role when he was in the k street project, he made
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$1.3 million during a recent 18-month period as a not-registered lobbyist. say advocate for health groups and industry groups. shouldn't iowa voters have had this information from the press before they went to the polls? >> you do your investigative work of candidates on top. how many stories have you seen it perry and the gifts he received in texas or his relationship with lobbyist down there? you don't see them anymore because he's down -- >> the phrase investigative work -- all of the stories about santorum's senate record, they were written at the "times." a question of going through the clips. >> whom the press builds up the press tears down. we don't investigate people at the bottom of the pack because they're at the bottom of the pack. once they climb up and might win something, well, then is the time to do the investigation. >> you know the phrase when you fly close to the sun your wings get burned? >> how much investigative work does it take to look at the guide's financial disclosure form and find out that he made this more than $1 million? i mean, nobody's saying -- >> if he's -- you played
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beautiful clips. thank goodness nothing from me. you know, when he's not considered somebody who has a chance, then, you know, how much ink are you going to waste or digital space going through all this -- >> the space is unlimited. a limited amount of airtime. >> i'll bet you can go back in the clips and -- electronic clips or paper clips and actually find stories like that on santorum from two years ago. nobody was paying attention then. >> let's take his position on the social issues. talk about, this is something he talked about at every appearance he made. talked about it in the debates. suddenly, a lot of journalists -- running up to him, what's your position on gay marriage because he's been getting booed on college campuses. what about your position that states have the power at least to ban contraception. i just wonder whether before -- this is circling back to the same question -- the press gave rick santorum a pass on these very -- these very positions that we now deem to be so controversial. >> well, you do stories on that
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a year ago, or you do stories on that six months ago, and you're -- >> you did it, we had it? >> no. you're accused of bashing this poor man. you do it now and you're accused by the public of bashing this poor man. there's no good time to do stories that some are going to interpret as negative. >> i don't want to let the big organization that's have platoons of reporters off the hook on when they should do stories. i also think we should recognize, everyone out there listening, that these -- these campaigns as the press coverage,volved. you don't do all the stories on everything up front. sometimes you should do the lower hanging ones like you mention good lobbyist. maybe should have done it first. but after all this time in iowa, if there were really things that iowa voters -- not press -- wanted to know, they actually could have just driven in their car and probably gone up and asked a candidate. >> and frankly, that's the beauty of the process, okay. so we haven't even voted in new hampshire yet. we're still orally, and he's getting the scrutiny. nobody is going to get through this process without getting
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intense scrutiny. nobody with a chance of winning is going to get through this without getting intense scrutiny. i would argue that if anything mitt romney's gotten something of a pass here. you just sketched through all those candidates. i mean, perry got all the scrutiny, bachmann to a large degree, as well. cain dominated our coverage -- >> certainly there's been talk about his massachusetts record, health care plan -- >> but what's dominated the news coverage of this campaign since september is the challengers -- >> the alternative to romney. i think that when all this comes in a kind of cascade where you pick up the newspapers and you turn on the tv and suddenly it's all about santorum's record, there is a perception at least that we're ganging up on him, which you alluded to. let me attorney mitt romney because as you recall, was only just a few short days ago, and this was a guy who was -- the conventional wisdom in the media was that he might be lucky to finish in the top three in iowa. look what happened the morning after he ekes out the victory. look at the questions the anchors asked him. >> you didn't spend an awful lot
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of time in iowa, not a lot of energy until the late going here. so did you exceed your expectations, or are you just a little disappointed that you didn't walk out of that state with a more decisive victory? >> oh, i'm absolutely delighted. >> what does it say about your candidacy that you actually won fewer votes than but in 2008 and you fought rick santorum to a draw basically even though you spent -- outspent him 50-1 on television ads? >> well, this was a seven-person field, of course. >> jon, he wins iowa -- dude, you only lost by eight votes. what's the matter? can we get a recounted? >> who won in iowa? this is the nature -- to be fair, he -- this is what the other campaigns are saying, as well. he gets 24, 25%. so, you know -- 75% -- >> don't have to buy it -- >> we can ask him -- >> the new math. you add up all the votes against him and decide therefore he's
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lost. it was amazing, in fact, for mitt romn mitt romney who spent the least amount of time in iowa to beat merribeat narrowly the person who spent the most amount of time in iowa. he lost the points that. totally lost the spin. >> look at ad spending. the only campaign combined with super pac that spent more than romney was rick perry. i mean, romney and his super pac spent big time in iowa. >> you got to have a real couch potato to sit in front of your tv in des moines or any place else in iowa and take in those ads. >> it was inescapable. >> it was wall-to-wall ad after ad. i can't believe the public did not tune out. >> okay. so we're two days away now from the first primary here. and romney's above 40%. i think it's safe to say he's going to win some victory. will the press now discount a romney victory because it is "expected," and focus much of the attention on who finished second or third? >> yes, the race is for who's going to place, you know, the race is for silver.
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already you have the democrats saying -- it was chairman debbie wasserman shultz saying if he doesn't win by 50% -- i think the number has gone up -- >> the democrats are setting the bar. >> the bar at 50%, then it's a loss. so he's been doing so well. if he really wins by an innate point there's a problem. but the conventional wisdom in this one -- i'm not thrilled about it, but i think, yes, that's what the press will do. won't be a proudest moment. but there will be an analysis of the win. >> does it trouble anybody sitting on the set that the guy wins the first two contest, and you're telling me the story's going to be whoever finishes second? >> it troubles me. >> yeah. how deeply does it trouble you? >> it's ridiculous the number of games we're playing. it's a six-person field. how do you get 51% in a six-person field? what we're really afraid of is this story is about to end and editors are going to call us home. we're not going to get to go to florida. we're not going to get to arizona because this thing probably ends after south carolina. >> i don't think that -- i think
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when you've had every poll for months predicting that romney's going to win, why wouldn't you look for who's number two? yeah. that's -- a reasonable story. >> let me cut you off after we come back in the second block. roger simon, as editor of -- revealing truth, it's all about expense accounts for journalist. remember the iowa caucus, went on until 1:00 a.m. the lead seesawing between romney and santorum -- they worked up mock pages of what it would go to press with. take a look. there's the first one. and back here in manchester, one presidential debate last night on abc, another one this morning on nbc. a look at how the networks did in a moment. pe. oh! try these. i sprinted here... wow! from your house?! from the car. unh! ooh. [ male announcer ] get back on track with low prices on everything you need. backed by our ad match guarantee. walmart.
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two presidential debates in 11 hours. that's got to set some kind of indoor record here in new hampshire. we'll start with saturday night's debate, abc news, diane sawyer, gege stephanopoulos. here's the question about mitt romney's time as a venture cap tailist working for bain capital. >> in december you said that governor romney made money at bane by "bankrupting companies and laying off employees." >> that was, i think, "the new york times" story two days ago. >> governor romney, your response? >> i'm not surprised to have "the new york times" try to put free enterprise on trial. >> roger simon, newt is invoking "the new york times." i thought he didn't like the elite media. >> well, what is surprising here is that newt won't stand up and make the charge himself. newt has been attacking the -- mitt romney at almost every
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stop, attacked him very ungraciously in his own concession speech in iowa. the most ungracious concession speech i've ever heard of. but here we are in new hampshire, and suddenly newt wimps out and -- put it all on the back of "the new york times." >> hiding behind the newspaper? >> absolutely. he clearly doesn't want to be out front, at least in that first debate on the attack. >> and i don't -- the "times" can defend itself. i don't think it's fair for romney to say the "times" news story, factual, was putting free press on trial. also we had one of our local anchors, josh mcle vain, asking a question followed by stephanopoul stephanopoulos. this had to do, as you'll see, this had to do with recycling some of the harsher words that the candidates have used against each other. take a look. >> let's go to you, speaker gingrich. recently dr. paul referred to you as a chicken hawk because you didn't serve, given what you just heard governor perry say
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about understanding the military and dr. paul's -- >> dr. paul makes a lot of comments. it's part of his style. >> you've got a new ad in south carolina taking direct aim at senator santorum. call him a corporate lobbyist, a washington insider with a record of betrayal. you also call him corrupt in that ad. >> lynn sweet, what would you say that the moderators are trying to accomplish here? >> i think they're trying to provoke ron paul. and he's so -- he could self-provoke. he doesn't need moderators to do it. i think they're trying to do what his competition won't, which is up the ante in his attacks. >> but also i think there's a tendency, at least by many candidates, to be a little bit more measured when they're on the debate stage. meanwhile, on the stump and in their own ads, they throw charges around like chicken hawk. so isn't this an effort to just kind of get -- i'll hold the coats, you guys fight? >> part of it is one of the good and bad things about the debate is the desire to want to mix it
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up. you know, look him in the eye and say that to his face. are you a chicken hawk or whatever? and sometimes -- but candidates usually know that that is a trap. the reason they like to use and hide behind their spots is that they are saying what they want to say, they're measured -- sometimes tested, howie. they don't want to get past that box. they may get in trouble. >> i think it's voubl to go and say, hey, this is what you're people are saying, what your ads are saying. he's here, say it to his face. >> go ahead. >> what the moderators are trying to do is make the debates entertainmenting, which they are not naturally -- >> and illuminating. >> naturally so. illuminating, the candidates are handling just fine. we're asking chicken hawk questions. we're asking -- insult this guy to your face. we're giving him 60-second answers and 30-second rebuttals because anything longer than that is not entertaining tv. >> not everybody gets the chance to speak -- >> how do you have six people on the stage --
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>> the whole debate structure is to make news as entertainment. >> sorry, the light went on. your time is up. i got to go to another sound bite. >> people want to see a punch. >> right. which sometimes can overshadow the substantive aspects of the debate, i think you were alluding to. "meet the press" held the second debate moderated by david gregory. this exchange began with rick santorum questioning why mitt romney left the governor of massachusetts job, the post of governor, after just one term. >> run again? that would be about me. i was trying to help get the state into the best shape i possibly could. left the world of politics. went back into business. now i have the opportunity, i believe, to use the experience i have -- you've got a surprised look on your face. wait -- it's still my time. >> are you going to tell people you're not going to run for re-election for president if you win? >> is governor romney unelectable in your judgment? >> i'm surprised the press has never brought this up or rarely brought this up about romney voluntarily making himself a one-term governor.
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>> it's interesting. but the response was -- was star-ofun. he went back to civic life, went to run for president. and if -- right after that, newt gingrich called it pius bologna which may be a line we'll hear again. >> yes. at the time that romney chose ton run again, he had a 54% unfavorable rating in massachusetts. that might have played a role. thank you very much for joining us. and a reminder that cnn will air last night's abc/wmur republican presidential debate tonight. see it at 8:00 p.m. eastern. next, when politics meet tragedy, are some pundits going too far in talking about the death of rick santorum's baby?
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journalist face the question, what is fair in report being presidential candidates? this ranges from $400 haircuts, to sexual harassment allegations to whether one presidential candidate four years ago -- you may remember her name -- was showing cleavage.
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a troubling example surfaced this week in the coverage of rick santorum, who has talked publicly along with his wife about their premature baby that died two hours after birth. that prompted this exchange on fox news between liberal radio host alan combs and national review editor rich lowery. >> once they get a load of some of the crazy things he said and done like taking his two-hour-old baby who died right after childbirth home and played with it for a couple of hours so his other children would know that the child was real, i mean -- >> that's a cheap shot, alan. to say it's crazy -- >> to -- >> to mock it like that is beyond the pale and beneath you. are you mocking him. >> was that out of bounds? joining us to examine the coverage here in new hampshire, dana milbank, columnist for the "washington post." and robert cost apolitical reporter for "national review." alan colmes later apologized for the exchange. should it be out of bounds to
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criticize, challenge rick santorum over his handling of the baby's death? >> the way that he did it was out of bounds. the topic isn't out of bounds. the candidate himself made it fair game. i think what you're having happen here is rick santorum was basically ignored as a man who had no chance to win this. ignored by the media the entire time. suddenly nobody thinks he has a chance to win, but suddenly it's like, let's give this guy the treatment. i think some people are perhaps overdoing it and giving him the treatment like to make up for lost time. >> how would you define "the treatment"? >> it's just like -- like i think we see ourselves as the self-appointed police of this. and we're going to bring up everything bad in anybody's past. you know, like, all right, we did it to herman cain, we did it to michele bachmann, rick perry, now it's santorum's turn. it's almost like a feeding frenzy. >> or like a wake-up call if the r ref misses fouls, we call fouls. >> i think it gets overdone. >> the fact is, i've heard people talking about this incident with the santorums' baby. a lot of people think it's
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strange. maybe that's unfair. is it okay to talk it it? >> i think it's okay to talk about. remember, this is not the firstness? that there's been -- not the first incident of tragedy. robert h.w. bush's daughter robin died at the age of 4. he never spoke about it in the way that santorum does. because stay-at-home does that doesn't mean we -- santorum does that doesn't mean we should wag a finger like colmes did and say it's strange because he played with the baby. that's off the wall. >> your "washington post" colleague eugene robinson said on msnbc that some might think that was weird. then he acknowledged, he was getting dressed down by joe scarborough. that was obviously not the right way to say what i was trying to express. >> and it's unnecessary. it's enough to say, present here the facts. if somebody is sitting home in their living room, wants to think that's weird, that's fine. somebody thinks that's endearing, they can think that, as well. >> liberal pundits seem to be piling on this presidential candidate over this tragic incident. >> liberal pundits and i think
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the media in general have a particular antipathy toward rick santorum because of the cultural differences, because he is -- >> outspoken social conservative? >> yeah, i think that's true. with gay rights, with terry schiavo, you know, going back to the faith-based initiatives. i think that he -- he has a real clash with sort of the liberal elites. >> let me ask -- at a political point, you and i have been following rick on the political trial. i think the question is not whether the media is giving the right coverage but whether he's focusing on it too much on the trail. we were in hollis, new hampshire, covering a town hall. he repeatedly talked about gay marriage and abortion. this story feeds into that narrative that he's focusing too much on the social conservative issues. >> on the other hand, i was at an event that day here in manchester where santorum was making his way through the crowd. and reporters were trying to shout questions. the questions were like, what about gay marriage? have you gone too far? and so here's a two-part question for you, robert. does the press like to fixate on
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hot button social issues? abortion, gay marriage, same-sex adoption came up in the debate last night. because it's good copy, because it's divisive? and does much of the mainstream press treat social conservatives like some kind of alien species? >> i think it's unfair to say the press treats them like an alien species. they're interesting copy, compelling, personal stories. that makes for a good read or good television show. but at the same time, you do see -- santorum and the press being almost too fixated on this. there's so many other issues in the political debate right now, from the economy to fiscal issues to foreign policy. both sides seem to like this because santorum likes to be a victim against those like alan colmes. the media likes to fixate on it for copy and viewers. >> santorum getting much more skeptical questioning by particularly television interviews since he overtook mitt romney to finish in a virtual tie. technically eight votes back. let's look at the exchange he had with john king which begins with the anchor reading something that santorum said in 2003, been repeated a million
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times on the internet. you can google it if you like. we'll take a look at the former senator's response. >> that's what children,omoning on rouse relationships in every society, the definition of marriage has not never to my knowledge included homosexuality. not to pick on homosexuality, it's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be, it is one thing. there are a lot of people saying, whoa, how do you connect that, homosexual behavior to beastality? you went on to talk about big y bigamy. how do you connect the dots? >> hold on. i said it's not. it is not. i didn't say it is. i said it's not. >> i was wondering how long it would take us to hear the phrase "man on dog" in this campaign. >> as often as i can say it. >> is it fair, unfair to throw that back at santorum? he says he was making -- he was not trying to compare the two, just the fact that he used the phrase is obviously -- >> of course he was trying to compare the two. he's saying it's not that, but
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if you start this, you go on a slippery slope toward that. yes, he was making a distinction but putting the two on the slippery slope. i see why people were outraged. and i see why when you google santorum as just suggested viewers may do, they may be surprised at what they find there. i don't think we should be surprised that there's so much media focus on this. to say -- focus on the economy, it's a red herring. you know, whenever we focus on the economy, it's terribly boring. have a debate on the economy -- >> wait a minute, wait a minute -- >> everybody's giving the same answer. >> you're saying that the press should focus on things like gay marriage and abortion -- >> no, i'm saying -- >> because it's a heck of a lot better show than dealing with the jobless issue? >> i'm saying focus on something where there's controversy or something interesting. >> not the death of good dabrie santorum. >> but when you ask questions about taxes over and over it's the same answer. >> i disagree. the debate on abc was too
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focused on contraception and george stephanopoulos grilling them for hours on end. the viewers want more than that. it is interesting copy. i understand the media should focus on this, it's part of the story. at the same time, everyone was rolling their eyes. >> in reality, there is no state among the 50 states in the united states of america that is even considering banning contraception. but the arguments are interesting. i guess it's a matter of judgment whether it went on too long. let me get to the larger issue here. two days before the voting in new hampshire. we've just been through iowa. here's "slate" magazine, jake weisburg writing, "face it, romney's a nominee. the media will try to persuade you there's a republican race. do not pay attention. it's a weak story where any other industry, cynicism about self-interest in promoting marginal challengers would prevail." is it that badded? >> here's the dirty secret, we all have nonrefundable hotel rooms up here in manchester, which is why so many people are up here. i think there's 20 from my news organization for what is
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basically a foregone conclusion -- >> at least in new hampshire? >> in new hampshire. so yes, i think particularly in tv, i think people are particularly upset at all the lost potential. that's how it looks. >> is there one scenario here that horrifies the media, and that is romney wraps it up early? >> i think that's horrifying for the media. it's january. we want the race to last forever. it's going to be grate primary. i think you're right. if people say mitt romney's the nominee after new hampshire, even if he gets 40% of the vote, there's a big contest coming up in south carolina. you have super tuesday in march, early march. this is maybe going to be a deep primary. romney will be the nominee if he surge ahead and wins south carolina. >> but weisburg says it's not a question of whether we're making this call too early. he says that basically it's a grand pretense to inject some -- basically false drama into a foregone conclusion. >> false drama, okay. rick santorum's raising $1 million a day. he had a surprise finish in the iowa caucuses. i think we're able to cover these stories, especially rick santorum, and say this is a compelling news story, the narrative. why not? it's not just looking beyond
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mitt romney's nest able. >> that's -- inevitability. >> that's the thing about the declarations of the press of who's inevitable and who's not. who's wrong? thanks for joining us. coming up in the second part of "reliable sources," msnbc covers the caucuses with five -- count 'em -- five liberal host s. neutrality a thing of the past? and steve olbermann misses caucus night during a spat with his new bosses. and a local story, a chat with wmur's james pindell. ÷
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i was struck the other day by a question tom brokaw asked mitt romney. it wasn't a gotcha question or
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particularly aggressive one, but it was unusual nonetheless. >> as a result this downturn, we have a much larger group of people who are no longer in the middle class, they've gone the other direction, gone down. >> yeah, yeah. >> they were at the poverty line or dropping below, and food stamps are way up. are you going to have to spend a lot more time worrying about the poor as well as the middle class if you're elected president? >> i want to make sure we have a safety net that cares for those who are poor. but i want to get those who are poor into the middle class. >> joining us in manchester to examine how media organizations are covering the primaries is lauren ashburn, president of ashburn media and former managing editor of "usa today" live. why aren't more journalists asking questions about poverty and inner cities? it seems like it's totally off the radar. poor people don't count? >> no, they don't vote. that's the problem. you look at the 43 million people who are poor in this country. those who earn $25,000 are two times less likely to vote than those who earn $75,000. >> so the candidates obviously
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aiming their rhetorical fire or rhetorical arguments at the middle class. but isn't it the responsibility of the press to bring some of this up? >> well, and thank goodness we have the dean, right, don brokaw, doing this. i watched the debate in the press room here, and i didn't hear the name "poor" once come out of anybody's mouth. and maybe -- i don't have a transcript. maybe i'm wrong. but my point is that nobody is asking those questions, and the candidates aren't driving that. >> i didn't hear -- i barely heard in any of the debates. now more than on iowa caucus night went with a lineup of five hosts. all of them, the liberal persuasion. let's take a look at some of what they had to say and then this particular montage ends with a -- not an apology but a retraction by rachel maddow for something she reported previously. take a look. >> they are junk-laden with droppings by the democratic party that they can't think. >> you're thinking how can rick santorum be a nominee. exactly the right question. how can any of them -- you're right.
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we kind of look and go, you're kidding me. rick santorum? >> none of them have a message, rachel. none of them have come out with any message that upwill resonat against president obama. >> i should let you know that there -- that the news about gary johnson dropping his libertarian party bid and endorsing ron paul was a hoax. so -- >> oh -- >> that will happen. >> that will happen. >> live television. >> tell happen. >> i don't know if she made the mistake or a producer. in terms of the lineup on the field here, you know, five unabashed liberals. is that the approach a news network should take? >> well, in 2004 or 2008, i'm sorry, if you remember, they had chris matthews and keith olbermann leading their debate coverage and got huge amount of pushback from people internally at nbc saying, how can we do this, how can we let primetime bleed into what is supposed to be standard news coverage?
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>> to the point that when it came convention time and election night, msnbc brought david gregory over from the nbc side so a neutral journalist would be in that chair. this time, not only does msnbc go with the commentator -- and they were relatively restrained. you didn't hear that much -- we heard a few things. nobody seems to care. there was no flack about it. >> i think -- i actually looked back to see what phil griffin said in 2008. and he basically said, you know, it's tough to balance because the ratings are so good when you have incendiary figures of one political bias or another commenting during coverage. >> phil griffin, of course the president of msnbc, and just the other day was quoted as saying that pat buchanan, one of the few conservative commentator on that network, is off the air indefinitely because of a book he wrote in which buchanan argues that the growth of minority populations have hurt america and its christian core. griffin saying this is not a proper subject for national
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dialogue. you mention -- nice sleeting me up for the next question -- keith olbermann, the decision in 2008 to put him out front on primary nights drew considerable consternation. now working at current tv,on the air at current on iowa caucus night. it was a mystery why. on twitter, olbermann said that he referred all questions to al gore, the co-founder of the network. and olberman told "the hollywood reporter," "i was not given the opportunity to host under acceptable condition." we're told the lawyers are talking. does it sound like they're not all getting along? >> keith olberman is brilliant. and there's a reason networks continue to hire him. but he's a narcissist. if you're going to hire keith olbermann, you better hire a lion tamer to go with him. >> a narcissist unlike most of the people who work in television? >> no, but my point is that he's going to do what he's going to do. he's going to bite. if he doesn't like something that he doesn't like, he's going to push back. by the way, the graphics at current tv and the technical
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capability, yeah, it needs a lot of work. some people were floating that as why he needed to not cover it. however, in the past, there have been allegations that he didn't want to cover republican debates simply because he doesn't like republicans. and that's when he was working at msnbc or at nbc. so, you know, who knows? >> hard for me to imagine him not wanting to be on the air on such an important night. we'll see how that plays out. before we go, there was a study in "the new york times" by two israeli professors that says more attractive members of congress get more airtime on television. so the top two, for example, from 2011 -- this second concluding the leadership -- marcia blackburn and congresswoman stephanie hersiff sand lynn. >> two women. >> and there were good-looking guys, too. how shocked are you? >> come on, please. i think that everybody in the tv business likes to be around good-looking people. i mean, from the producers and the bookers and people who put them on. however, i will say that unless you have something of substance to say, you can get on one, two,
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three, maybe four times before the producers and the booker and hosts are saying, get them out of here. they don't have anything to say. >> but it sounds like if there is a choice between two equal members of congress and one is a looker and one not so much -- i speak of barney frank, he gets on a lot. >> please. >> that television is doing what it does with anchors and reporters. hooks are a factor. >> -- looks are a factor. >> sure. look at fox. everybody says, there's a fox babe. people like to get information and news from people who are good-looking. i think it's self-selecting in society. it's just a problem with television news. no. not -- >> what about presidential candidates, michele bachmann, sarah palin? >> i wasn't thinking about women, but i do think that, yes, you have to look presidential. it's harder for people to hire or to vote for somebody who is not of a certain weight and cut and -- i'm going to get myself in trouble.
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>> unlike you, i was thinking about women. >> right. >> thank you very much for joining us here in new hampshire. after the break, the political director of new hampshire's biggest television station on whether local news coverage has more impact on the primary than the invasion of the national pundits. my name is jill strange,
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really a great marriage -- you interesting about hi jo we are coming to you from the studios of wmur, the abc affiliate in manchester, as well as a cnn partner. it's the largest television station in new hampshire. joining us for local coverage of this primary is the station's political director. >> welcome to new hampshire. >> thank you. it's my sixth new hampshire primary. i know my way around. but i'm picking up chatter from some of your colleagues in the local press corps, romney have a
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20-plus-point lead, maybe not the most exciting new hampshire primary you've covered. >> it's really not. we started very slowly. in fact, almost the first year in basically 15 years or so where we didn't have a single presidential candidate visit the state. but that briefly changed in 2008. >> this is your -- this is your shot at the big time. >> this is why i work in this state. there's no question about it. but, look, we've seen new hampshire voters reacting like they always do at these town hall meetings, asking very pointed, tough questions. i think you see at the end here are these town hall meetings, a lot of enthusiasm, this is our state sport, politics. >> and do we cover it like a sport? >> we do. i mean, there's a lot of ups and downs. i think we see these presidential debates something like an nfl season where all the action once a week and everyone watches and go to iowa and new hampshire and try to practice a bit. >> do people go to bars and argue about -- >> they do. i go to the grocery store and someone always stops me every
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single time to give their views or talk about politics. >> probably a rock star here. how much access was wmur have to the campaigns? when the invasion of national media come, we're all trying to get five minutes with romney or santorum or gingrich. it's got to be hard. >> it is hard. we're the only tv station in this really important state. these candidates are in all the time. we talked at mitt romney, 20 months without doing a major sunday show. he did our show three times in that time period. they want to be on our airwaves. >> beating them off with a stick. maybe you have too much access. >> we had four come in the day after the iowa caucuses and i think everyone has come through at least twice, i think, since iowa. >> does the game change for you when all of the "national journal"ists, the morning after the iowa caucus, and now they're just a week apart, suddenly get on their airplanes, come here and now you've got a lot of competition for what had been a
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story that you pretty much had to yourself? >> well, i think we feel pretty good and well positioned this particular week. of course we have the most dominant poll from the university of new hampshire, the most respected poll. we have two vergs of that coming out this week. obviously co-sponsor the debate. we are going to have an election night special on primary eve running an hour long. >> hitting on all cylinders. but wmur is not the only important ally in the state. >> of course not. >> manchester's influential lead ir, the sunday news. i'm going to hold it up. another front-page editorial by publisher joe mcquade in favor of newt gingrich, which the paper has endorsed, saying romney may be the worst candidate. does the union leader have the clout it used to in the days tv was a little less important? >> no, of course it doesn't. when i hear about front-page editorials, usually i hear it from a friend in washington before i hear it from a friend in new hampshire. no question, the editorial page in particular has had a lot of influence in terms of driving a conversation in this state,
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particularly manchester. it's kind of drifen the conversation. but the circulation is down 60% in the last 20 years. >> the full-throated backing of newt has not, if you believe the polls, helped him all that much. >> at the same time, it's not game over for newt gingrich. we came out of iowa thinking it was all about rick santorum um and mitt romney, but it's not. >> this question comes up very much so every four years with iowa, to new hampshire, as well, which is why should your state hold the first in the nation primary? it's not totally representative of the rest of the country. i know there's a great deal of pride about the primary here. what's your answer to that? >> look, if you believe in the romantic notion of the person who runs for president is probably a senator or a governor, maybe a businessman or a member of congress, and they're hanging out in these circles. they don't relate to regular people. >> are you saying they live in a bubble? >> of course they do. not criticizing that. >> what happens when they come here? >> if you believe at some place, some time the person who will be the next leader of the free world, makes decisions on who
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goes to war, who wins and loses in tax policy, should have to engage and interact in regular people, who in new hampshire -- you've seen these crowds. they are engaged. they're not starstruck. they see these people all the time. they're going to ask the tough question. my favorite moments here are not about media moments. it's when real people ask real questions of these candidates. that's the magic. >> sometimes gets lost in the coverage, but that's my favorite thing about coming to new hampshire-people take it seriously. they're well informed. hopefully we've held up the tradition. >> when hillary cries in portsmouth, it's because a person asked a question. >> a very good point. james, thanks for stopping by. wmur. still to come, msnbc's ed schultz takes a stand and tells viewers what they can do with their complaints. at that time.out a wil we were in denial. that's right. [ laughter ] we like our freedoms, but at the same time we have responsibilities to the kids and ourselves. we're the vargos and we created our wills on legalzoom. finally. [ laughter ] [ shapiro ] we created legalzoom to help you take care of the ones you love.
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before we go, an msnbc the other night, ed schultz, who's a pretty fiery liberal, said, hey, rick santorum is really good on this stuff, as good as barack obama. imagine. that was too much for some viewers and schultz responded in a video. >> all of a sudden, i start getting all of these tweets from liberals who think that i am eating santorum salad or i'm a turn coat and e-mails are coming in and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. shut up. are we at the point now where on the ed show that i can't go out and do an objective story? >> good for him. some fox anchors have told me about taking heat from the right for challenging republicans. if we're at the point where ideological viewers will punish any deviation from the party line on these two channels, that puts more pressure on the
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