Following GOP V.P. candidate Paul Ryan‘s interview on Fox News Sunday this weekend, several write-ups honed in on a quote wherein Ryan says “there is definitely media bias.” Some members of the media oddly saw this as Ryan “complaining” and failed to explain that he was actually responding to a question by Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.
Among the outlets that failed to include the question portion leading to Ryan’s comment: Politico, NYT and CNN.com.
“Paul Ryan breaks ‘no whining rule,’” blared the headline in a post by Politico‘s Dylan Byers. He noted that last week a senior adviser to the Romney campaign said there was a “no whining rule” regarding campaign news coverage. “Ryan upended all that in an interview this morning with Fox News Sunday,” he wrote. There was no mention that Wallace had asked Ryan a question: “Do you think the mainstream media is carrying water for Barack Obama?” Byers later updated his post with an email from a Ryan spokesman who said, “[Ryan] was asked a question about media bias and answered it.”
NYT‘s Brian Knowlton wrote that Ryan was “complaining” about media bias. “[Ryan] suggested on Sunday that part of the [Romney campaign's] problem might be in getting the message past the mainstream news media,” he wrote, also omitting Wallace’s question from the equation. Knowlton also asserted that Ryan’s comments were out of sync with others in the GOP.
“One fellow Republican said on Sunday that complaining of media bias was not, perhaps, the most effective response,” Knowlton wrote, citing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week. On the program, Christie said he wouldn’t “complain” about the news coverage of the Romney campaign. Unlike Ryan, Christie wasn’t asked to analyze the biases of the news media. He offered.
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Mediaite‘s Meenal Vamburkar also attempted to juxtapose Ryan’s comment with Christie’s in a post headlined “Chris Christie: ‘Losing’ Candidates Blame Media…Meanwhile Paul Ryan Calls Out ‘Inherent Media Bias’ On Fox.” The post included Wallace’s question, but still created the impression that Ryan was complaining about media bias.
Later in the evening a column went up by NYT‘s David Carr. He wrote that conservatives are blaming bias in the mainstream media for Romney’s low poll numbers, citing Ryan’s comments as an example. Once again, Wallace’s question was left out. From Carr’s column:
On Sunday, Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, got right to the point. “It goes without saying that there is definitely media bias,” Mr. Ryan told “Fox News Sunday.”
Carr apparently defines “right to the point” as a response to a question that came at the halfway point of an interview.
FishbowlDC reached out to Knowlton, Byers, Carr and Davidsen for their thoughts on whether omitting Wallace’s question altered the nature of Ryan’s comments.
Transcript of the Wallace-Ryan exchange:
WALLACE: Do you think the mainstream media is carrying water for Barack Obama?
RYAN: I think it kind of goes without saying that there’s definitely a media bias. We’ve — look, I’m a conservative person, I’m used to media bias. We expected media bias going into this.
hat’s why we’re trying to cut through and go straight to people. That’s why when you hear people in Washington complain about media bias, come out into these states with us and attend out town hall meetings.
WALLACE: But where have you seen it? Where have you seen it in this campaign where you feel they’re judging you and Romney by one standard and Obama and Biden by another?
RYAN: I don’t think — I’m not going to go into a tit-for-tat or litigate this thing. But as a conservative, I’ve long believed and long felt that there is inherit media bias. And I think anybody with objectivity would believe that that’s the case.
WALLACE: Do you think mainstream media wants Barack Obama to win?
RYAN: You’ll have to ask mainstream that.
WALLACE: No, what do you think?
RYAN: I think most people in the mainstream media are left of center and therefore, they want a very left of center president than they want a conservative president like Mitt Romney.
WALLACE: So they want Obama to win and they want to lose?
RYAN: I don’t know. I’ll let you decide what people want, what’s in their hearts, what’s in their minds. …