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August 24, 2012 12:07 AM UTC

Romney Campaign Shuts Down Local Reporter's Akin/Abortion Questions

  • by: Colorado Pols

FRIDAY UPDATE #2: You heard it here first, and Friday afternoon Politico confirms:

Ciara Matthews, the Romney campaign’s Colorado communications director, has been asked not to speak to the media after her decision to prohibit a reporter from asking Mitt Romney questions about abortion, sources tell POLITICO…

A spokesperson with the Romney campaign told POLITICO yesterday that the campaign did not prohbit questions, and other networks said that their questions were not influenced by the campaign. “This is not how we operate,” the spokesperson said. “The matter is being addressed.”

Politico lists prior jobs for Ciara Matthews with Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin and Sharron Angle’s Senate campaign. In addition, Ms. Matthews’ resume includes a stint with Marilyn Musgrave’s Susan B. Anthony Fund, a stridently anti-abortion activist group.

So it’s possible that Ms. Matthews’ connection to Musgrave and the Susan B. Anthony Fund might explain her allegedly self-driven desire to censor questions about Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and abortion in general. But we’re still not sure, given the Romney campaign’s history with reporter Shaun Boyd and the obvious political problems with the Akin story. After Boyd’s grilling of Romney back in may, this would surely have been a reporter his Colorado operatives would have been watching out for.

We’ll be watching to see what happens to Ms. Matthews: wherever she ends up next will help answer if she genuinely violated policy, or simply made the mistake of not being subtle enough.


FRIDAY UPDATE: The Washington Post sheds some light on this story today:

And in a wide-ranging interview late Thursday night, Boyd provided further substantiation for the campaign’s claims. Boyd says that the conditions were the work of a state-level Romney staffer in Colorado [Pols emphasis] and that, from all indications, that staffer was acting independently of official Romney campaign guidance…

In her exchanges with the conditions-imposing staffer, Boyd tried appealing to common sense. After learning that she couldn’t ask questions about the sensitive topics, Boyd responded, “Everybody’s talking about this, and I can’t talk about it? It’s going to look weird…It’s not going to look good for you.” Too, Boyd wasn’t intending to ask per se about abortion but rather about how Romney had asked Akin to give up his Senate campaign and had been defied.

The primary miscalculation of the staffer, suggests Boyd, was in supposing that the insistence on conditions would remain bottled up. “When the stipulation was made, I think the staffer didn’t think I’d tell everybody,” she says. The stipulation wasn’t communicated off the record, says Boyd, who announced to the whole world at the very beginning of her story that she’d been prevented from discussing abortion and Akin.

After the incident went national, Boyd spoke with a national campaign staffer, who asked why Boyd hadn’t appealed the matter to them. She said she responded that she didn’t think such an approach would get her anywhere.

The rumor making the circuit this morning is that the “state-level” Romney staffer in question is Ciara Matthews, the communications director for the campaign in Colorado. We obviously can’t confirm that without Shaun Boyd’s help, but if this truly was the error the campaign is claiming it was, we expect the staffer’s identity will be confirmed soon enough.

Also, the Huffington Post video we posted yesterday appears to have been removed. Click here to watch the original report from CBS4.

Talking Points Memo:

Denver TV reporter Shaun Boyd wanted to ask Mitt Romney about Todd Akin and the abortion controversy roiling the GOP Thursday. But the Romney campaign refused…

Boyd told TPM that the Romney campaign offered her station an interview with Romney, one of several local news hits in swing states that Romney conducted via satellite Thursday. A campaign staffer who’s name she didn’t divulge told her what questions she wasn’t allowed to ask.

“They said, you know, ‘the only stipulation is we don’t want you talking about the Akin issue,'” Boyd recalled. She also said the Romney staffer told her the campaign didn’t want questions for Romney about ‘the whole abortion controversy.'” [Pols emphasis]

Boyd said she resisted.

“I said to them, ‘Look everybody’s talking about this. It’s going to seem awkward if I don’t ask about it,'” she said. “And they said, ‘Well he’s said all he’s going to say about it. He doesn’t have anything more to say, you won’t be getting any new information so we don’t want to talk about that.'”

“It was pretty clear: ‘Here’s our one stipulation,'” she recalled.

You’ll recall that CBS4 reporter Shaun Boyd filmed an interview with Mitt Romney back in May, where she very commendably drove home the tough questions on topics Romney didn’t want to discuss. It’s at least as commendable for Boyd to go on the air after today’s interview and disclose the topics that Romney’s campaign took off the table before the interview even started. Had she not, we might be writing a post criticizing Boyd for not asking the GOP’s presidential nominee about the biggest political story in America when she had a wide-open chance.

The fact is, presidential campaigns wield tremendous power in their ability to grant (or exclude) access to reporters. Reporters need access to do their jobs effectively, making confrontation a delicate task. There’s little doubt that the pre-emptive conditions imposed on Shaun Boyd are being imposed on reporters all across the nation. It’s not that the latest controversy over the GOP and abortion is abating, they’re using all their influence to manufacture that impression.

But it didn’t work this time. And now, once again, the omission is the story.


27 thoughts on “Romney Campaign Shuts Down Local Reporter’s Akin/Abortion Questions

    1. Mormonism no wackier than any other religion  to me but he also won’t answer questions about just what cuts he would make to shrink government or reform medicare and social security or what tax loopholes he wants to close or deductions he wants to eliminate or how he thinks we can get out of Afghanistan.  If the American people elect this pig in a poke they deserve whatever he springs on them. Whether you’re right, left or in between you have no way of knowing what policies you’re voting for with him because everything is a big fat secret.

      1. I could get around the Mormonism if Mitt Romney weren’t such a complete arrogant fucking liar.  

        No plan, nothing to say, just empty platitudes.  I think he may actually harbor a lot of disdain for the people who are stupid enough to vote for him.

      2. We are not into the ugly, ugly yet of the political campaign season.  Mormonism is going to take a beating.  It is just TOO weird.  Americans are just not that open to new religions….

        1. I know my husband has a bunch of born again cousins in Idaho, where there are also a lot of Mormons, and they would never vote for a Mormon. Weird terrible cult, not Christian, etc. I’m sure they’d never vote for a Jew like me either but they’re all nice to me. Good thing we only see each other every few years, though. His liberal cousins, like him, all moved away from Idaho as soon as they were young adults. Heck, he enlisted during Vietnam to get away.  

          The Idaho contingent will probably vote for the Bircher candidate like they did last time but it won’t matter because it’s solid red Idaho. In some other states it might make a difference if, when push comes to shove, some people can’t bring themselves to vote for a Mormon, even to kick out Obama, and vote third party instead.

  1. I don’t know what’s going on here but I smell a rat.

    UPDATE: 5:10 p.m. — A spokesperson for the Romney campaign responded to the charge, telling HuffPost, “This is not how we operate. The matter is being addressed.”

    At least two other news outlets that interviewed Romney today said the campaign placed no restrictions on the types of questions they could ask.

    One television station, KVVU in Nevada, said that in pre-interview conversations with the campaign, staffers made it clear that they were not going to promise to avoid any particular issue.

    “They said to me that they wanted to know what we were going to ask them,” said Terry Cunningham, the station’s assignment manager. “And I basically gave them the canned statement that we would ask them what we want to. We may ask him about Akin, but our entire interview wasn’t going to be centered around that.”

    It is not uncommon for campaigns or political offices to attempt to gather hints about what topics might come up during a course of an interview. But Cunningham said that when KVVU declined to give those details, the Romney campaign “didn’t really say anything either way.”

    This isn’t right. CBS 4 is the only station that was asked to do this? I doubt that. Either Shaun Boyd got her signals crossed, or she’s lying.

    Remember, this is the SAME Shaun Boyd who grilled Romney before when another CBS reporter gave Obama a pass. This seems to be more of the same double standard.

    But until I see evidence that this is more than one reporter’s word, I’m not buying it.

    1. No, the story’s the feckless Vietnam era draft dodging red POTUS wannabes cowardice……again.

      This won’t work. He has to either man up at some point or fold.

      Christ, stand for something. Demand something….anything….from your nominee.

      Your delusional hatred for President Obama literally drives you to embrace a reptile like Romney? To excuse his lying, his misrepresentations, his countless flip flops, his refusal to explain in detail ANY policy, position, or goal.

      You need to seriously reevaluate your sense of patriotism….if you have any.  


    2. Did any of the other stations in on this cover the banned subject? If so, you may be right. If not…hmmmmm. Check it out for us, please, to support your allegations against Boyd.

    3. “This is not how we operate. The matter is being addressed.”

      This is not a denial. It is a “we screwed up and got called out on it,” so we are “addressing” the matter (the problem being how bad it makes them look).  

        1. The “truth” confirmed what I said: The Romney camp did not deny it, they confirmed their Colorado communications director had indeed told the reporter she could not ask certain questions. The Romney camp recognized this was a “screw up” and made them look bad–just as I said.

          The top of the campaign is saying this is not how they operate, but it was how their Colorado campaign operated, and there are similar reports. (See:

          It was not an isolated incident, and that makes it the responsibility of the Romney campaign, and suggests a strategy rather than an accident. At the least, it indicates the Romney campaign is not able to control the “clam up” instincts of their field staff.

          I do not apologize for describing the situation accurately.

          1. At the least, it indicates the Romney campaign is not able to control the “clam up” instincts of their field staff.

            “trickles down” from the top.

            A good case in point is Rmoneys’ refusal to announce his “energy plan” during his “buffet for billionaires” because there were reporters in the room.

            This penchant for opaqueness is a clue…

        2. has an IQ in the low single digits.  That’s the only way he could conclude that Romney’s statement that Boyd’s story is correct somehow vindicate shill boy.

  2. There is a very simple way to handle this: Agree to the restrictions and then stick to them….don’t ask anything about the “forbidden issues”, but disclose during the interview what those forbidden issues are. For instance, “Thank you for agreeing to this interview Governor Romney. Per your campaign’s demands, I will not be asking you about abortion or Representative Akin’s recent comments. Before we get started though, just so we are clear are there any other issues you are afraid to talk about?”  And then turn the floor over to him.  

  3. Just have him answer talk about his tax returns instead . . .

    Willard’s an open book, a golden open book, and has absolutely nothing to hide.  

  4. if you become POTUS, how are you going to handle the European financial meltdown, bring peace to the Middle East, handle Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, etc., etc., etc?”

    “I told you NO HARD QUESTIONS!!!  Besides, if my tax rate is effectively less than 1%, what do I care?”  –The Some Dude Arapagopher supports.

    1. He’s probably still recovering from that exhaustion he suffered a couple of weeks ago in Florida. Or maybe that was just an excuse to get the hell out of Florida without having to defend picking Ryan to those Social Security and Medicare folks….

      But really, trust him. He has the management skills to handle all that other stuff. He said so, you know, and you can take his word to the bank…or he takes your stuff to his bank…Swiss bank…Cayman Islands…all this is so hard. Let Mitt do it. Just don’t ask him those hard questions.

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