Mitt Romney's campaign has granted Paul Ryan's first one-on-one interview since being named Romney's running mate not to a mainstream journalist, but rather to a conservative pundit, Fox News political analyst Brit Hume. The Wisconsin congressman will be making his first appearance as a VP candidate on a network that cheered his selection and has championed him for years.
As Howard Kurtz wrote, Ryan's selection meant that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch "gets his man." Giving Fox the interview suggests that the campaign is rewarding the network for its support.
This is no surprise; Romney has previously touted a media conspiracy against him, alleging that mainstream reporters have worked diligently to "try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country." Meanwhile, Romney has built strong ties with the right-wing media, with the candidate himself meeting with an array of conservative writers and bloggers.
The selection of Hume as the interviewer suggests that the Romney-Ryan campaign has no intention of even going through the motions. Picking someone like Bret Baier or Chris Wallace, each of whom has some reputation for asking tough questions of Republicans (at least compared to their Fox colleagues), would at least have suggested that the campaign wanted an imprimatur of impartiality.
But after serving as anchor of Fox News' Special Report for more than a decade, Hume has spent the last four years as another right-wing pundit in the Fox stable, making regular appearances on the network to spout conservative talking points. For the campaign, this is the next best thing to an interview with Glenn Beck.
Indeed, on Saturday Hume responded to Ryan's selection by calling the Wisconsin congressman an "exceptionally impressive and able young man," and said he has long thought Ryan "represented the future of the Republican Party":
Last year, after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called Ryan's budget "right-wing social engineering," Hume leaped to the congressman's defense, lauding him as "a hero to many Republicans" who showed "courage," in having "climbed out on a very shaky limb." Hume slammed Gingrich's comments as "astonishing," a "very serious mistake," and a "blunder":
The message from the Romney campaign is clear: They plan to favor the right-wing media while using the mainstream media as a foil. Viewers can't expect tough questions of Paul Ryan from Brit Hume. And the media can't expect access from Mitt Romney.