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David Gregory's 'Softball' Interview With Romney: Losing His Religion | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

David Gregory's 'Softball' Interview With Romney: Losing His Religion

I wrote a “review” of David Gregory’s shoddy performance in his “major” interview with Mitt Romney on Sunday for NBC’s Meet the Press (see below) just before a fresh revelation, from an important new book, added some color to it.

You will see in my review that one of several areas that Gregory botched related to softball questions about Romney’s Mormon faith, with no attempt to discover how certain key precepts might influence his mindset as president and approach to certain issues. We saw the same lack of probing of George W. Bush’s “born again” faith as he was running for president (and even after he took office), and how it might influence such matters as, oh, going to war.

Then, last night, the NYTposted a bombshell op-ed by its former reporter Kurt Eichenwald, based on his access to secret documents, charging great negligence by the Bush administration (beyond what we already knew) leading up to the 9/11 attack. Eichenwald has a new book, covering the post-9/11 response, and the Daily Beast covered a few revelations from it. Here is one of their summaries:

After convincing Blair to support U.S. military action against Iraq, Bush turned to French President Jacques Chirac. “Jacques, you and I share a common faith. You’re Roman Catholic, I’m Methodist, but we are both Christians committed to the teachings of the Bible. We share one common Lord.”

Chirac said he didn’t know where Bush was going with this. Then Bush said, “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East. Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase His people’s enemies before a new age begins.”

Chirac said he hung up called together his staff. “He said, ‘Gog and Magog.’ Do any of you know what he is talking about?” Nobody knew. “Find out.”

Now, below, here’s my review of David Gregory on Sunday, including the Mormon questions. Go here for my frequent updates on the 2012 campaign.

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Should David Gregory lose his post at Meet the Press after Sunday’s embarrassing performance with Mitt Romney? Even the very inconsistent Tim Russert would have been quicker on his feet to follow up on misstatements and reversals of previous statements—most notably on Medicare—or asked a newly-revealed obvious question. For example, Gregory asked about Mitt about not mentioning Afghanistan in his RNC, and got the thoroughly predictable reply—and then failed to ask, well, what is your position on Afghanistan, which Dems have challenged him to answer and, frankly, is rather more important than most of the other issues on the table.

Gregory was so weak, he failed to even stop and gaze at Romney’s apparent new policy on keeping parts of Obamacare—which others in the media IDed immediately, and the Romney camp since has walked back, then walked back the walk back. But to Gregory it was just another bit of blather.

The NBC host also failed to say a word after Romney hailed Bill Clinton’s speech—such as, “Mr. Romney, you do realize that he skewered you throughout that speech—why do you now say he elevated’ the convention”? Gregory even declared, in his own voice, that we’ve had a “jobless” recovery. And he let Romney boast about balancing four budgets in Massachusetts—when he had no choice, it’s set by law.

We got an Eastwood question and: “As a candidate now when was the last time you really got to spend some—some quality time with somebody who is out of work and what did you get from them?” What were the odds he was going to say anything that would provide even ten seconds of illumination? Bat, meet softball.

There’s so much more. Even allowing Ann Romney to sit in—what’s the point of that? Then there were the soapy questions about his Mormon faith, such as: “Mrs. Romney, do you think that— that Mormons in America and around the world, for that matter, have gotten past a level of persecution that they can very openly be— be proud of what the two of you are doing?” No questions about how any principles of his deep faith might influence his mindset as president or help shape any of his decisions or policies. He just wanted to know about the couple’s “journey.”

Recall the same lack of probing of George W. Bush’s born again faith as he was running for president (and even after he took office), and how it might influence such matters as, oh, going to war.

After a completely misleading statement on the GM bankruptcy Gregory went straight to: “What’s the Romney-Ryan bumper sticker?”

Well, I’ll just leave other points to the smackdown from Charles P. Pierce.

Greg Mitchell’s books and e-books on influential American campaigns include Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, The Campaign of the Century (on Upton Sinclair’s 1934 race) and Why Obama Won. He also blogs daily at Pressing Issues.

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