-By Warner Todd Huston
Now that Mitt Romney’s trip abroad has wound down an assessment of its coverage can be made and the final word is negativity. The Old Media was mostly negative about Romney’s trip. This is quite a contrast to the glowing coverage it gave to Obama’s pre-election trip abroad in 2008.
According to an analysis by the Media Research Center, the 21 newscasts of the big three networks between July 25 and July 31 showed that the coverage of Romney’s trip was 86% negative. Stories on his trip to Britain, Israel and Poland focused on so-called gaffes, and “political blunders” quite despite that Romney’s visits were well received by the peoples there, especially in Israel and Poland.
The networks and the rest of the Old Media news establishment heaped scorn on Romney but this was in stark contrast to the effusiveness that that was afforded Obama when he took a trip overseas in 2008 to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of his first election to the White House. Coverage in 2008 was nearly 100% positive, sycophantic even, despite the few and sundry gaffes he committed at the time all of which went practically ignored.
As to Romney’s “gaffes,” while even supporters feel he was a bit gruff on the London Olympics, Romney’s statements really weren’t that out of bounds. The Old Media was quick to lambaste Romney for saying that it had yet to be seen if London’s security plans were going to present a problem, but that same media establishment never bothered to inform America that many others had also questioned London’s plans for security. Romney was just echoing others who said the same thing.
Absurdly, the media used that one gaffe as the basis for reporting the entire trip ignoring especially the successes Romney achieved in Israel and Poland.
In Poland Governor Romney’s speech thanking Poland for its staunch friendship with the U.S. was a triumph and was received extremely well in that greet country.
Israel, too, found much to appreciate in Romney’s visit. His speech there is considered by some to be a masterful exercise in subtlety, nuance, and restraint.
What of Romney’s non-gaffe in Israel when he intimated that culture has a lot to do with a country’s success? Well the Palestinian whose cries of “racism” that the media fell all over itself to report is the same racist, terror supporter that repeated the blood libel of the mythical Jenin massacre.
Back in 2002 Saeb Erekat was featured on BBC and other news services claiming that the Israelis “massacred” Palestinians in Jenin, an incident that never happened. This man has no credibility whatsoever but the Old Media rushed to repeat his charges about Romeny because his complaints fit their narrative of a failed trip abroad for the former Massachusetts Governor.
But what of that “culture” claim? Charles Krauthammer reminds us all that Romney was precisely echoing the UN’s own words.
The American media bought it whole, despite the fact that Romney’s assertion was a direct echo of the U.N. Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab intellectuals and commissioned by the U.N. It unambiguously asserted that “culture and values are the soul of development.” And went on to report how existing cultural norms — “including traditional Arab culture and values” — are among the major impediments to Arab economic progress.
The report deplores the rampant corruption, repressive governance and lack of women’s (and human) rights as major contributors to backwardness in the Arab world. (In the Palestinian case, it faults Israeli “occupation,” but a U.N. document that doesn’t blame Israel for every Palestinian sorrow, if not the world’s, has yet to be written. Moreover, that excuse doesn’t work for today’s occupation-free, Palestinian-run Gaza.)
Krauthammer went on to note that Romney’s point about “culture” was a compliment to Israel for having risen from the arid deserts to become a powerhouse nation on the world stage, that Romney’s words were “a tribute to its freedom and openness.”
Even former managing editor of Newsweek and TIME journalist, Evan Thomas, scoffed at the foolish coverage of Romney’s non-gaffe in Israel saying, “it’s obviously cultural problems that affect the Palestinians.”
Thomas also thought the overall coverage was badly handled and he felt that it might not affect Romney’s standing with voters. “I think the public sees it that way. This is a convective thing that the press gets all excited about, but I don’t think voters give a damn,” Thomas averred on a recent appearance on Inside Washington on PBS.
Romney’s trip actually went very well for him with the people that matter. His speech was highly touted in Israel, he was given a virtual endorsement by Cold War icon Lech Walesa (who has in the past refused to even meet with Obama), and he reaffirmed our support for our great allies in those regions.
This is in contrast to Obama’s whirlwind tour of Europe in 2008, a tour that was filled with blather, bromides, and over generalities but was one of little actual substance despite the fawning coverage it received. The Old Media coverage of the two couldn’t be more different.