Right-wing pundits jumped to blame “the media” after Mitt Romney was criticized for his statement and remarks following the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Yet foreign policy experts and even conservative officials and media figures have been critical of Romney's statement and subsequent remarks.
Following Embassy Violence, Romney Issued Statement Accusing Obama Of “Disgraceful” Response To Attacks
NY Times: U.S. Ambassador And Three Staff Killed In Attack On U.S. Consulate In Benghazi; U.S. Embassy In Cairo Also Attacked. From The New York Times:
Islamist militants armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, late Tuesday, killing the American ambassador and three members of his staff and raising fresh questions about the radicalization of countries swept up in the Arab Spring.
Fighters involved in the assault, which was spearheaded by a Islamist brigade formed during last year's uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon. Their attack followed by just a few hours the storming of the compound surrounding the United States Embassy in Cairo by an unarmed mob protesting the same video. On Wednesday, new crowds of protesters gathered outside the United States Embassies in Tunis and in Cairo. [The New York Times, 9/12/12]
Romney Statement: “It's Disgraceful” That The Obama Administration "Sympathize[d] With Those Who Waged The Attacks." Romney issued a statement on the evening of September 11 that read, in part: “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.” [CNN.com, 9/12/12]
Romney: Obama Administration “Clearly Sent Mixed Messages To The World” With Embassy Statement That Was “Akin To Apology.” Referring to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo before the attacks took place, Romney said, during a September 12 press conference, in response to a reporter's question:
ROMNEY: It's their administration. Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also from the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department.
They clearly - they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was - was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a - a severe miscalculation. [CNN.com, 9/12/12]
For more on both the U.S. embassy's statement and Romney's remarks, see here.
Right-Wing Media Claim “The Media Went After Romney” ...
Fox's Bolling: “The Media Went After Romney.” During the September 12 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling suggested that “the media went after Romney” :
BOLLING: [T]he media went after Romney for saying it too early, going after Obama too early -- should he not be going after Obama. Then President Obama, after Romney made the statement, then President Obama condemned the killing. So Mitt Romney didn't have President Obama condemning the killing prior to making the statement, so of course he has all the right in the world to say really, we're going to apologize -- when you read it yesterday, I thought we're apologizing to Muslims, and they're killing our people.
GREG GUTFELD (co-host): It's insidious. [Fox News, The Five, 9/12/12]
Ann Coulter: “The Media Is Screaming Bloody Murder” Over Romney's Statement. During the September 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity, conservative author Ann Coulter said, “You know that Romney's statement was devastating to President Obama because the media is screaming bloody murder. If he hadn't struck gold with that, they wouldn't all be doing this. But that's their response to everything Romney says.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/12]
Michelle Malkin: "We Have The Feckless, Lap-Dog Media Who Is Conspiring To Make This About Romney Instead Of About Obama." Later during the Hannity broadcast, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin said of Romney's statement: "[W]e have this feckless, lap-dog media who is conspiring to make this about Romney instead of about Obama." [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/12]
Rush Limbaugh: “The Media” Are “Trying To Make All Of This About Romney.” During the September 12 edition of Rush Limbaugh's program, Limbaugh claimed that what “the media” are “trying to do is make all of this about Romney.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/12/12]
... But Fail To Note Romney's Response Was Criticized By Foreign Policy Experts ...
VOA: Former Defense Department Official Korb Said He Is “Appalled” By Romney's Comments. From a September 12 Voice of America article about Romney's criticism of Obama following the embassy attacks:
The Romney comments also provoked a strong reaction from some foreign policy experts.
Lawrence Korb is a former Defense Department official who is now with the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy research group in Washington.
“Well, I should say that I'm appalled, but not surprised because I think the Romney campaign is desperate to try and close the gap on foreign policy, which had been a traditional Republican strength in the elections but it is not this time,” Korb said. [Voice of America, 9/12/12]
Former Ambassador And NATO Representative Burns: “I Was Frankly Very Disappointed And Dismayed To See Gov. Romney Inject Politics Into This Very Difficult Situation.” During an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Nicholas Burns, who served in State Departments under President George W. Bush and President Clinton, said:
BURNS: This is a tragic day for our country and our foreign service. Four outstanding Americans have been killed. And I was frankly very disappointed and dismayed to see Governor Romney inject politics into this very difficult situation, where our embassies are under attack, where there's been a big misunderstanding in the Middle East, apparently, about an American film, where we're trying to preserve the lives of our diplomats -- this is no time for politics.
I watched Secretary Clinton's statement this morning, and I read President Obama's statement, and I've looked at the statement that you've just referred to issued 24 hours ago by our embassy in Cairo. In no way, shape, or form is the U.S. government or the Obama administration apologizing for terrorists or sympathizing with them. What I heard from the president and Secretary Clinton was a very definite rejection of terrorism and, of course, our government's going to call on the Egyptian and Libyan governments to apprehend these people and to put them on trial. So I just think that Governor Romney has, in a very unwise way, injected himself into a situation where he clearly doesn't have all the facts. [MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell Reports, 9/12/12]
... And Was Challenged By Conservative Political And Media Figures -- Including Fox's Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly: “I'm Not Sure [Romney] Is Correct On That. The Embassy Was Trying To Head Off The Violence” With Statement. During the September 12 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly played video of Romney's remarks from his September 12 press conference and said, “I'm not sure the governor is correct on that. The embassy was trying to head off the violence” with their statement. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/12/12]
Former McCain Adviser: Pointing Out “That We Reject Vile Attacks On Muslims...Does Not Constitute Sympathy For The People Besieging Our Embassy As Gov. Romney Alleged.” Longtime John McCain adviser Mark Salter responded to Romney's remarks on the embassy's statement on the website RealClearPolitics:
[T]here is nothing wrong in principle with making clear to people, who have yet to embrace the categorical right to free speech, that Americans and their government deplore the deplorable, that we reject vile attacks on Muslims as vigorously as we reject vile anti-Semitic attacks.
To do so does not constitute sympathy for the people besieging our embassy, as Gov. Romney alleged. Nor is at an apology for America, as some Obama critics have claimed. It's an expression of our decency. [RealClearPolitics, 9/12/12]
Noonan: Romney Isn't “Doing Himself Any Favors,” “When Hot Things Happen, Cool Words -- Or No Words -- Is The Way To Go.” Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan commented on Romney's remarks on Fox News, a Wall Street Journal blog reported:
Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, said on Fox News that he had opened himself up to accusations that he was “trying to exploit things politically.”
“I belong to the old school of thinking in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and at times when something violent is happening to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go,” she said. “I don't feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors.... When hot things happen, cool words- or no words- is the way to go.” [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]
Frum: “The Romney Campaign's Attempt To Score Political Points On The Killing Of American Diplomats Was A Dismal Business In Every Respect.” The Journal blog also reported that David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, was also critical of Romney's comments:
Conservative writer David Frum wrote on Wednesday, “Politicians must pander, it goes with the job. But they mustn't leave their fingerprints all over their pandering. The Romney campaign's attempt to score political points on the killing of American diplomats was a dismal business in every respect." [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]