Last night, newly-selected debate moderator Bob Shieffer of CBS featured Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on 60 Minutes. The interview was fine, except for one small portion – a portion Schieffer and the folks at CBS left on the cutting-room floor in order to avoid making Ryan sympathetic.
Ryan, who has become a Democratic target for his plan to revamp Medicare for future benefit recipients, has a mother in Florida who is on Medicare. Obviously, he doesn’t want to end Medicare as we know it – he wants to maintain it for the future. Here’s what Ryan said – and what CBS News cut out of the interview:
My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida. Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms, that have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late ’90s.
That’s about as egregious a cut as you can make in politics. It’s the equivalent of failing to inform viewers that Bill Clinton grew up poor in Arkansas, or Barack Obama was raised by his grandparents. These are vital biographical details that go to the motivation of political actors. Ryan isn’t out of touch with seniors. He’s fully in touch with them, as evidenced by his mom. The media just doesn’t want anybody to know about it.
And Schieffer has a history of such nonsense – he said yesterday that the Ryan budget “really slashes into social programs.” He asked Ryan whether he thought Romney was too defensive about Bain Capital. And he protested after the Romney campaign used a clip of him in one of their ads – a clip that was fully in context.
After a cut this egregious, Schieffer should be ousted as a debate moderator. Any journalist who would wipe away such a vital exchange certainly can’t be trusted to do even a relatively objective job in a presidential debate between their favored candidate (Obama) and his opponent.