Nets Try to Use Ryan Tax Returns to Embarrass Romney

After Paul Ryan released his last two years of tax returns late Friday, reporters on ABC and CBS not only made sure to point out that Ryan paid a higher federal tax rate than the wealthier Mitt Romney, but also noted that he had supplied more than two years to the Romney campaign as part of the vetting process, as if to put additional pressure on Romney and Ryan that they should make more than two years public.

On Friday's CBS Evening News, correspondent John Dickerson recounted that Ryan "paid a higher effective tax rate than Romney has. And, of course, Romney's income was significantly higher..."

Concluding the segment, as if to take a sarcastic jab at Romney being slow to release the second set of tax returns he has promised, Dickerson cracked:

He told you on 60 Minutes, Bob, that he'd given Mitt Romney several years of his tax returns. He's now released two, which is one more than Mitt Romney has released.

Substitute host Bob Schieffer seemed to giggle slightly as he ended the segment: "Okay, thank you very much, John."

(Video can be found here.)

Notably, on Thursday's CBS Evening News, correpondent Jan Crawford had recalled that, in 2010, Romney had donated as much of his income to charity -- $3 million -- as he had paid in federal income taxes, thus informing viewers that the GOP presidential candidate had actually parted with a great deal more of his income than just the 13.9 percentage rate of federal tax he paid.

On Saturday's CBS This Morning, co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis also contrasted Ryan's tax rate with that of Romney. Jarvis:

His running mate, Paul Ryan, released two years of tax returns on Friday, and that they show that he paid a higher federal tax rate than the far wealthier Romney.

Correspondent Chip Reid then began his report:

Paul Ryan released his tax returns Friday evening, but for just last two years, following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign sees this as a political gift that allows them to argue that both members of the Republican ticket must have something to hide, but Ryan won't be hiding from an equally tough issue this morning: Medicare.

A bit later, after bringing aboard John Dickerson, co-host Ben Tracy posed:

John, so Paul Ryan has now released two years of tax returns. That's one more year than Mitt Romney did. How big a problem is this for the campaign going forward?

On Saturday's Good Morning America on ABC, correspondent David Kerley recounted that Ryan paid a 20 percent tax rate for 2011, noting that it was "more than Mitt Romney" who paid 13.9 percent.

He went on to note that Ryan had to divulge more than two years to Romney as he was considered for the vice presidential position. Kerley:

...he did release two years of his returns, as Romney says he has done. But guess what: Paul Ryan had to give more than that to the Romney campaign, but he's not releasing any more to the public, Dan.

On Friday's NBC Nightly News, David Gregory noted that Ryan paid a higher rate than Romney, but also called the Obama campaign's attempt to get Romney to release more tax returns a "political stunt." Gregory:

In this particular case, based on what Governor Romney has said, his running mate paid a higher effective rate than he did. He, too, has investment income, one of the reasons that Governor Romney's rate is so low is becoming he doesn't earn a paycheck. He gets investment income, so it's taxed as dividends. But, as Ron (Mott) alluded to, this is a political stunt. This is the Obama campaign that wants to keep the attention on tax returns.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the Friday, August 17, CBS Evening News, the Friday, August 17, NBC Nightly News, the Saturday, August 18, CBS This Morning, and the Saturday, August 18, Good Morning America on ABC:

#From the Saturday, August 18, Good Morning America:

DAN HARRIS: We mentioned that Paul Ryan released his returns. What do they show?

DAVID KERLEY: They show that he paid 20 percent in taxes last year, which is more than Mitt Romney. Romney paid 13.9 percent. Ryan paid about 16 percent the year before. We didn't see everything. He has a trust fund with his wife. We didn't see all of their income, all of their value, but he did release two years of his returns, as Romney says he has done. But guess what: Paul Ryan had to give more than that to the Romney campaign, but he's not releasing any more to the public, Dan.

#From the Friday, August 17, CBS Evening News:

BOB SCHIEFFER: John, anything unusual in what you're seeing in these returns?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, it was a good couple of years for the Ryan family. He paid a higher effective tax rate than Romney has. And, of course, Romney's income was significantly higher -- $22 million in 2010. In that same year, Congressman Ryan, $215,000. But, as you mentioned, this doesn't come from just being a Congressman. Much of it comes from his wife. He told you on 60 Minutes, Bob, that he'd given Mitt Romney several years of his tax returns. He's now released two, which is one more than Mitt Romney has released.

SCHIEFFER, GIGGLING SLIGHTLY: Okay, thank you very much, John.

#From the Saturday, August 18, CBS This Morning:

REBECCA JARVIS: Republican candidate Mitt Romney wants to focus on jobs and the economy. But, instead, he's been battling taxes and Medicare. His running mate, Paul Ryan, released two years of tax returns on Friday, and that they show that he paid a higher federal tax rate than the far wealthier Romney. Ryan will be in the crucial state of Florida this morning defending his controversial Medicare plan in front of a group of seniors. And Chip Reid has this report from the Villages.

CHIP REID: Paul Ryan released his tax returns Friday evening, but for just last two years, following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign sees this as a political gift that allows them to argue that both members of the Republican ticket must have something to hide, but Ryan won't be hiding from an equally tough issue this morning: Medicare.

(...)

BEN TRACY: John, so Paul Ryan has now released two years of tax returns. That's one more year than Mitt Romney did. How big a problem is this for the campaign going forward?

#From the Friday, August 17, NBC Nightly News:

DAVID GREGORY: In this particular case, based on what Governor Romney has said, his running mate paid a higher effective rate than he did. He, too, has investment income, one of the reasons that Governor Romney's rate is so low is becoming he doesn't earn a paycheck. He gets investment income, so it's taxed as dividends. But, as Ron (Mott) alluded to, this is a political stunt. This is the Obama campaign that wants to keep the attention on tax returns.