Tale of Two Interviews: Lauer, Stephanopoulos Grill Akin

Duelling interviews: NBC's Matt Lauer (left) and ABC's George Stephanopoulos each interviewed Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (inset). (Photos: NBC, ABC, AP)

Embattled Missouri congressman Todd Akin took to two morning shows to plead his case in interviews that aired at around the same time on two networks.

The shows were NBC’s “Today Show,” where the Republican was grilled by Matt Lauer, and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where the questioning was conducted by George Stephanopoulos.

Akin, a Republican, is the Missouri representative who is running for the U.S. Senate, and whose campaign is hanging by a thread following remarks he made a few days ago in which he claimed that women’s bodies are somehow engineered to ward off pregnancies stemming from “legitimate” rapes. The statement has resulted in calls from dozens of GOP leaders (and plenty of voices on the Democratic side too) that he withdraw from the race because if he loses, then it is believed that the Democrats would win a majority in the Senate.

On Wednesday morning, Akin was seen on “Today” and “GMA” at a few minutes after 7 a.m. (6c) — the most prominent spot on the network morning shows. The two interviews were aired practically simultaneously, which means one of them — possibly “Today” — taped the interview a few minutes before airing it on tape.

Both interviews covered essentially the same ground, with some exceptions. And neither Lauer nor Stephanopoulos can be accused of lobbing softballs at the congressman.

Here’s how the two interviews went:

On “The Today Show” (you can see the Lauer interview here), Lauer began by asking Akin to confirm that he received a call from Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, in which Ryan asked Akin to withdraw. Akin confirmed the call but gave no details about it. Nor would he say whether he would drop out of the Senate race.

On “GMA” (which you can watch here), Stephanopoulos didn’t ask Akin specifically about a phone call from Ryan, but in each interview, Akin’s opening statement was essentially the same. He insisted, at least for now, that he’s staying in the race because he still believes he can win against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“The people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate [in a primary vote earlier this year] and I don’t believe it’s right for party bosses to decide to override those voters,” Akin said on ABC. “And so I think we should allow things to stand as the election process has unfolded.”

“Are you saying you are in no matter what?” Stephanopoulos asked.

And Akin answered: “I’ve made the decision to stay in because I believe that we can win this race.”

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