Romney’s Response to the Embassy Attacks and the Media

I know I am a day or so late on this observation, but it remains on my mind as I keep seeing commentators, and especially friends and friends of friend on Facebook commenting upon it.  To wit:  the assertion that the media paid too much attention to Romney in the wake of the embassy attacks earlier in the week.  The general lament (indeed, the accusation) was that media was making the story about Romney!  Indeed, one would think that a meeting was held to use the event as a means of criticizing the GOP candidate (because, dontcha know, the media is out to get Romney).

Here’s the problem with this assessment (and to quite Scott Galupo with a h/t to Sully):

The media focused on Mitt Romney yesterday because Mitt Romney asked them to.

Let’s face facts:  Romney jumped on the story, and too quickly because he jumbled the timeline, because he was hoping to generate positive media attention.  However, when you go before the cameras in a rush to score point, you sometime screw it up.  As such, Romney (and his supporters) has no one to blame but Romney (and whoever advised him on the statement in the first place).

As such, I found the WSJ‘s editorial, Romney Offends the Pundits:  Doesn’t he know he’s not supposed to debate foreign policy?, to be especially silly in its stance.

His political faux pas was to offend a pundit class that wants to cede the foreign policy debate to Mr. Obama without thinking seriously about the trouble for America that is building in the world.

No, the problem was this:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Because, well, that is an erroneous statement, as we all now know.  The problem, therefore, was not offending pundits, it was making incorrect statements based on an incomplete and incorrect understanding of what was said, who said it, and when it was said.

Live by the press release, die by the press release.

To restate:  don’t blame the media, blame the responsible party, Mitt Romney.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Media, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. JeffC says:

    nice try but its you and the MSM that fumbled the timeline …

  2. @JeffC: Explanation and evidence would be helpful.

  3. See Doug Mataconis’ post on the subject:

    Let’s start from the beginning here. The statement by the Romney campaign and Chairman Priebus that the Obama Administration as sympathizing with the attackers in Cairo and Benghazi is based entirely on a statement that was issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that included sentences such as this “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” There were, however, two crucial facts that the Romney campaign didn’t wait to find out before issuing their statement. First of all, it turns out that the statement itself was issued before the protests actually started, and certainly before the tragic attack in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three others. That doesn’t necessarily make the statement acceptable, of course, but the context is important because the Romney campaign’s statement makes it seems as though the embassy statement was made in response to the embassy protests, and that’s simply not the case. The second fact that the Romney campaign’s decision to speak out in haste obscured is the fact that the White House and State Department almost immediately disavowed the Cairo Embassy statement when it became public:

    If this is in error, I would be happy to see a correction.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    His political faux pas was to offend a pundit class that wants to cede the foreign policy debate to Mr. Obama without thinking seriously about the trouble for America that is building in the world. (WSJ)

    As you have probably noticed, I am a liberal, and I read the Wall Street Journal almost every day. I read many of their op-ed opinion columnists, however I regularly avoid their daily editorial simply because it is reflexively and excessively partisan when it comes to Obama. The above quote shows just how predictably and effortlessly the WSJ avoided the central issue in order to continue selling Romney to their readership.

  5. john personna says:

    Because, well, that is an [malicious] statement, as we all now know.

  6. DRS says:

    Because issuing a press release when you DON’T want the media to pay attention is the smart thing to do.

  7. @john personna: Well, that too.

  8. de stijl says:

    Alternate hypothesis: Romney and his team knew that their statement was incorrect and was intentionally provocative. The polls are turning against him especially in key states for him, he is not winning the white margin by enough, and this was a hail mary attempt to try to prompt any type of positive response.

    If he’s losing OH, PA, VA and FL, he may not have any other option but these hail mary’s.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @al-Ameda: The WSJ used to be a decent news magazine, as long as you ignored the brain-dead editorials and opinion pieces (often contradicted by data in the very same newspaper.) Unfortunately, since Murdoch et al. took over, the WSJ has turned every article in the first section into something partisan and slanted. It’s all one incestuous circle-jerk of rich white wingnuts fluffing the egos of other rich white wingnuts.

    It will take time, but sooner or later the business moguls that read the WSJ will discover that the first section is so much fishwrap and doesn’t give them the data they need.

    There’s a reason why I read the Financial Times instead.

  10. legion says:

    @JeffC:

    nice try but its you and the MSM reality that fumbled the timeline …

    I think that’s what you meant to say…

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    The problem, therefore, was not offending pundit, it was making incorrect statements based on an incomplete and incorrect understanding of what was said, who said it, and when it was said.

    In other words, the problem is Mitt Romney.