With ratings head and shoulders above its cable news competitors, a Fox News Channel appearance would seem like an appropriate place for Republican presidential candidates to make their case. Fox’s 6:00 p.m. “Special Report” program is especially popular — but not with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has declined to appear on the show.
“We just received an email from the Romney campaign that they are officially turning down our invite to be on ‘Center Seat,’” host Bret Baier revealed at the end of his Monday broadcast. “They say, as of now, Gov. Romney will not appear on center seat. We hope they reconsider.”
In the “Center Seat” segment of “Special Report,” candidates answer questions from a panel comprised of Baier, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer and two other rotating experts. Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and other Romney rivals have already either appeared on the segment or made commitments to do so.
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A representative for the Romney campaign declined to comment on the decision not to appear on “Special Report.” However, Baier’s program isn’t the only Fox show Romney has avoided.
“Fox News Sunday,” hosted by Chris Wallace and aired on both the Fox News Channel and local Fox affiliates, has also gotten the cold shoulder from Romney’s campaign.
“He has not appeared on this program or any Sunday talk show since March of 2010,” Wallace said on his October 30 show. “We invited Gov. Romney again this week, but his campaign says he’s still not ready to sit down for an interview.”
Romney has made appearances on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “You World with Neil Cavuto,” and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” during his presidential campaign. But his reluctance to appear on the Fox News Channel might be part of a larger strategy, which campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom explained to The Huffington Post last month.
“In 2008, Mitt Romney was new to the national stage and not very well-known outside of Massachusetts,” Fehrnstrom said. “There was an obvious benefit to doing a lot of earned media because it helped raise his profile, and we wanted to increase name awareness and recognition. The downside was that we often found ourselves at the mercy of the daily news cycle and answering questions about whatever happened to be in the headlines that day.
“One of the things we learned from that experience is that we had to do a better job of getting his message across in media interviews.”