Hugh Hewitt

When I asked Paul Ryan Wednesday night for his reaction to the news that the major television networks won’t carry a minute of the opening night of the GOP convention, he responded that he wasn’t surprised and that this is just the media terrain the GOP faces in the 2012 election cycle.

(The transcript of my interview is posted at HughHewitt.com)

Ryan is right not to be surprised, and while he doesn’t have time to be angry, every American –left, right, center, undecided or simply indifferent—ought to be furious. The hypocrisy of anyone bemoaning the loss of civility in American politics who doesn’t also denounce the Manhattan-Beltway media elite’s dumbing down of American political coverage is large.

The conventions feature speeches. Speeches make arguments and they do not rely on soundbytes. Conventions aim to persuade, and it is a rare chance for both parties to make their case directly without the interruption or overlay of the chattering class (which of course on thee networks is overwhelming left.)

The ratings are not huge, but neither is voter turnout. If the future of a country in crisis is significant, so too is the opportunity for the voters to make a change or confirm a course.

But the suits have decided to cut the already drastically reduced coverage by 25%.

This of course helps the Obama/[?] ticket, because the president has nothing to sell and nothing to defend, and it is harder to attack, attack, and attack when you are the incumbent with a record to defend.

The president is fine with reduced coverage. He’d rather everyone be watching anything except the news and people discussing the news. As the ruins of his years in office continue to smoke, he’d like nothing more than to have everyone tune into a repeat of the Olympics.

The Manhattan-Beltway media elite knows this, and giving yet another nudge to the Obama forces is fine with them. They’ll deny that motive of course, and say they are driven simply by greed and that the cable channels will carry the proceedings anyway. (Interesting how when PBS funding is on the line we hear about the millions of Americans without cable, but when the lefty media brass want to put a finger on the scale for Obama that “public interest” argument goes out the window.)

This is a pattern, one that is so stark that it is more amusing than shocking.

Recall the coverage given to the New York Times-Quinnipiac state polls showing an Obama lead in Florid and Pennsylvania a couple of weeks back? The sample was overweighted to Democrats, but it ran and ran and ran without explanation or caution.

This week new polls show Romney/Ryan ahead by 15 points in Florida and almost 4 in Michigan! Now, that poll’s sample overweights GOP voters in my opinion, but no caution is needed because MSM simply hasn’t reported these results.

See the game?

Or how about the University of Colorado study employing the same methodology it has used since 1980 to predict elections? Have you heard that headline on the television? Probably not, because the study predicts a Romney/Ryan landslide.

Then there is the photo of President Obama from Ohio, where he posed in the famous Ohio State spell-out wherein four people make the O-H-I-O with their bodies.

Except the president and his three friends misspelled OHIO and form instead O-I-H-O.

What would be a front page photo were George W. Bush to have made the mistake –and the cover of all weeklies, and probably twice, if Dan Quayle had been involved—is posted on a few conservative websites like mine.

Like Ryan said, it is predictable. The GOP has to work around it.

Which is why I wrote last week’s column on talk radio and the opportunity it offers Romney/Ryan.

Yesterday I got eight minutes with Paul Ryan, and at the risk of sounding ungrateful to a dedicated campaign staff that found the slot on a crowded schedule, it should have been 80 minutes. He is a terrific candidate, and like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan charms and persuades. The more time he spends in conversation with serious talk show hosts the better the campaign will do in every conceivable way.

I devoted my time with Ryan to biography (a half dozen previous interviews in the past two years have been about policy), and would have spent much more time on his early years had I been there for the simple reason offered by Ulysses S. Grant:

“I read but few lives of great men because biographers do not, as a rule, tell enough about the formative period of life. What I want to know is what a man did as a boy.”

That time is available to both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but not from the television networks that won't even cover the opening night of the convention.

So the candidates have to take up the offer of talkers across the country and invest the time. Not every show should get get a visit from Mitt Romney and/or Paul Ryan, and certainly not the goons and the pots-and-pan bangers.

But since the MSM is very eager to spin and slant, cover up what hurts the president and spend endless amounts of time on what they think will hurt Romney/Ryan, the GOP team simply has to use the opportunities available to them.

I did interviews with Romney senior advisors Lanhee Chen on Wednesday and Robert C. O’Brien on Tuesday (those transcripts will be found here) and these far outweigh in substance and detail anything MSM or cable has done with any advisor from either side. The key people are available. They will do the interviews. The Manhattan-Beltway media elite simply isn’t interested in serious argument about the peril facing the country.

This past week I have covered the loss of just four of themany heroes who have died in the past fortnight: Army Major Tom Kennedy, Air Force Major DavidGray, Marine Corps Captain Matt Manoukian, and Navy SEAL Davey Warsen. I did so because personal circumstances brought each man’s story to my attention, and the loss of four amazing men from the four branches along with the dozens of other casualties in the past few weeks has impressed on me that MSM finds war coverage as inconvenient as coverage of the convention.

How does a great nation remain great when its media crumbles this way? Remarkable. Shameful. Brave men and women sacrificing their everything and the American media can’t spare the political parties that guide the country an hour a night for four nights.

Shameful.


Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.