Today's media mission: Rehabilitate Mitt Romney's amazing set of gaffes with regard to the Libya and Egypt protests by reinforcing a false narrative and timeline while allowing his surrogates to claim the president was "apologizing" for America. From the Washington Post to broadcast media, full counterspin is now in effect with the usual players and their candidates assisting.
In the video clip, Andrea Mitchell brings Romney surrogate Vin Webber on to discuss the firestorm over Romney's opportunistic grab at a chance to slam the President at the very time a US Ambassador has been killed. Here's what Mr. Webber had to say, right out of the gate:
Well, Governor Romney wrote a book called "No Apologies" and his first response was to the terrible things that happened in Egypt were a sense of outrage at American statement of apology. So I think that was his first reaction. I think it was a correct reaction, we don't want to change it. As you pointed out, he's not campaigning on this for the rest of the campaign but it was an appropriate first reaction to what he thought was a mistaken response from our government which the administration itself nine hours later disavowed.
Once again, Mr. Webber forgets to admit that the statement came from the embassy before the protests heated up. It was a pre-emptive statement and it was not an apology. Even if it were an apology it wouldn't have been unwarranted, given the heinous nature of that schlocky video.
To her credit, Mrs. Greenspan hit back mildly on that point, but didn't really push it like she should have, which means that the balance of his idiotic argument stood.
However, it's not just MSNBC. Yesterday the New York Times published a pretty thorough article that hit Mitt hard on his opportunism. Just hours later, that article mysteriously vanished and a new article replaced it, removing this paragraph entirely: whitewashing statements made by a Romney senior advisor:
Originally, the Times reported that a Romney "senior adviser" explained how the candidate and his team "saw what they believed was an opportunity to underscore a theme Mr. Romney had sounded often about his Democratic rival."
“We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath,” one of Mr. Romney’s senior advisers said on Wednesday. “I think the reality is that while there may be a difference of opinion regarding issues of timing, I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”
The later version only included the second sentence, attributing it not to a "senior adviser" but "one senior strategist, who asked not to be named."
The original quote in the Times was also included in an AP factcheck article about how the campaign used a tragedy to capitalize politically, but somehow disappeared in the span of hours. John Aravosis wrote up the original within an hour of its publication, calling it a "devastating portrait." The original report said this, quoting a "Republican official advising Romney's campaign on foreign policy and national security issues":
This official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Romney's campaign, said that as word of violence spread, campaign aides late Tuesday watched tweets coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that were criticizing the filmmaker rather than condemning the attackers, and saw an opportunity to criticize Obama.
As criticism mounted from all quarters, including Senator John McCain, journalists around the nation on TV and in print, and others, Romney's campaign advisors were looking at a way to mitigate the damage. Breitbartians jumped right into the fray by making a huge, irrelevant fuss about the fact that Marines were not guarding the "embassy" in Benghazi, while conveniently forgetting to actually find out that it wasn't an embassy. It was a consulate, and consulates do not typically have Marine guards. It was easy enough to find out.
On a National Security Network press call Wednesday, former Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin explained how security works in consulates:
"...every embassy abroad relies on the security of the [inaudible] government. We can't and don't provide security defense for our embassies. We, every embassy will have - or most embassies will have a team of US Marines but it's never expected that the Marines are full defense in the case of attack, as we saw in Benghazi. We rely on the host government. They're notified immediately if it looks like there's, the embassy may come under attack. But personnel within the embassy will retreat into a safe haven. Basically the embassy goes into lockdown. We have established safe havens with secure doors and supplies and [inaudible] inside. We have safe havens in embassy residences as well. In extreme situations -when danger is very threatening- the Marines are authorized, do have weapons and are authorized to use them. But that's in extremis."
Please note that she was speaking to the question of embassy security. Consulates are different. They have local and private security, and indeed the third victim of the attack was a former Navy SEAL who hails from the Boston area. Rest in peace, Glen Doherty.
You get the idea. The only way to rehabilitate Mitt Romney's leadership-devoid ways is to lie, and lie completely. Take a look at this graphic from Fox Nation:
Yeah, here's what he really did:
Obama called Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, according to a statement released by the White House late tonight, to thank him for his condolences for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and two other State Department officers in Benghazi.
Oh, and then there was also this:
The two “agreed to work closely over the course of the investigation” and Obama “made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice.”
Following Fox News protocol, they saw no reason to waste time with facts when distortion would serve them just fine. And true to form, right wing blogs are jumping on that graphic with vigor, to reinforce the theme that the President of the United States isn't really American.
Another lie making the rounds today, thanks to neocon propagandist Marc Thiessen:
— Marc Thiessen (@marcthiessen) September 10, 2012
I guess it never occurred to Thiessen to think about the possibility that President Obama actually reads his briefing papers daily, unlike Mr. Obama's predecessor.
Someone should ask people whether they're truly comfortable voting for someone who doesn't see any distinction between truth and a lie. Some won't care because they just don't like a black guy in the White House. Others won't care because it's anyone other than Obama for them. But the ones Romney and Obama are fighting for right now? The small sliver between the haters and the fans? They might care.