Commentary Magazine


Media Confuse Egypt with Libya

During the question-and-answer portion of Romney’s remarks this morning, a reporter asked the following: “The world is watching. Isn’t this itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time that Americans are being killed? Shouldn’t politics stop for this?” While the media seems outraged over Romney’s statements about the events that took place in the Mideast yesterday, they seem unaware of the fact that Romney’s remarks were not about the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and events in Libya, but instead about the attacks on our embassy in Cairo as well as the embassy’s own response beforehand and afterwards.

Late last night Mitt Romney made the following (poorly worded) statement on the attacks,

“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.”

These remarks were released at 10 p.m. last night. As evidenced by the remarks referring to the death of just one “consulate worker,” it is clear that the Romney campaign, like the rest of the world, were at that time unaware that the deceased was the ambassador. It is also clear that Romney’s criticism was aimed at the administration’s response to the attacks in Cairo, not Libya. The critical portion of his remarks clearly referenced the Egyptian situation, not the one in Libya. How could Romney have released a statement critical of the administration’s response to Libya if the administration had not yet made a comment on the situation in Libya? The Obama administration actually agreed with Romney’s criticism of the Cairo embassy’s response, as they have since disavowed the response sent from the embassy’s Twitter account and those tweets were later deleted.

Many have criticized Romney for speaking on the embassy attacks before all the facts were known. Another allegedly non-biased reporter asked Romney this morning:

“Some people have said that you jumped the gun a little bit in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening?”

What details, exactly, was Romney supposed to wait for? The embassy in Cairo was attacked. Before the attack, the embassy was sending tweets apologizing to the protestors storming their doors. Hours later, after the embassy walls were breached, the account sent a tweet stating, “This morning’s condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy.” Romney assumed that the president and his State Department were in control of the staff and the messaging coming out of our embassy in Cairo. In the future, is Romney supposed to wait for the Obama administration to confirm or deny that it is in command of its own personnel? The tragedy in Libya does not erase the fact that our embassy continued to apologize to protestors angered over statements made by an obscure American, whose statements are protected by the First Amendment.

Since this morning it’s come to light that the attackers weren’t even protesting over the film, but instead over the release of the “blind sheik.” Will the media turn on the secretary of state, president, and the press office in Cairo for jumping to conclusions before we knew the true nature of the “protests?”

Yet again, the mainstream media has decided to play according to the Obama campaign’s rules instead of doing their jobs. In the future it appears the media would like Romney and his campaign to wait for the Obama administration’s spin before forming any kind of opinion. One would hope that the Romney campaign would refuse to abide by these media and Obama campaign guidelines because if they don’t, the campaign might as well close up shop today.