On the day that Obama 2012 actually tweeted a link to Xinhua, twice, and email-blasted it too (yes, I hear the Stef Cutter-Tom Friedman book club is reading The Little Red Book this week, like again, so I’m totally going to Anita Dunn’s house instea … what? Dammit), I’m left with only one explanation regarding the aggressively unprofessional behavior of the New York Times and the Atlantic today:
Their internet is down.
Here’s the lede for the Times:
Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country’s alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the United States Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence.
Set off by anger at an American-made video ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, the attacks on the embassy put President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in a squeeze between the need to stand with Washington against the attackers and the demands of many Egyptians to defy Washington and defend Islam, a senior Brotherhood official acknowledged.
These astonishing two paragraphs do not contain a single bit of correct information.
— Referring to the phone call as “blunt” — if this was actually Xinhua, they would have used “bold” or “courageous” — is objectively absurd considering the lag time between the attack and the call.
— Claiming the Egyptians “tacitly” acknowledged that they erred is, I must assume, an admission that the Egyptians did not acknowledge that they erred, which is the opposite of the Times‘ intended meaning.
— The attackers were not set off by a video. Intelligence has already stated that this was a coordinated attack with significant prior planning.
— What need does Morsi have to stand with Washington? The coordination and weaponry used in the attack likely indicates Muslim Brotherhood sponsorship, and Morsi lives according to a creed that sees Washington as a great evil. Additionally, the MB was tweeting out invitations to an anti-Western rally in Arabic just as they sent some platitudes in English. Morsi is not trying to keep both sides happy, he is scamming one while riling up his own.
Now, the Atlantic:
Under Pressure, Romney Stays the Course
His party worries that he’s losing the election, but Romney appears no nimbler or more aggressive than before.
Before the campaign was swallowed up by international events this week, the theme of the week was Republican panic. President Obama was looking strong coming out of the conventions, Mitt Romney was running out of time, and the GOP was beginning, rightly or wrongly, to feel the election slipping away.
The ur-example of this widespread sentiment came Thursday in Joe Scarborough’s column in Politico, titled “The Problem with Mitt” — a 1,200-word cri de coeur from a frustrated partisan who sees his candidate snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. “Voters who like moderates can’t trust him. Conservatives who are desperate for victory don’t believe him,” Scarborough writes. “And the election Republicans should be winning seems to be slipping further from their grasp.”
Romney’s clumsy response to Tuesday’s attacks on American installations in North Africa didn’t help matters — though an ongoing, out-of-hand crisis overseas also has the potential to damage Obama politically. But if his aggressive reaction to international events was meant to signal a new, more aggressive posture on the part of his campaign, that wasn’t evident on the stump Thursday, when Romney was back to business as usual.
Several acts of war have been committed against the United States, resulting in four American deaths. The only criticism in this lede is directed at a supposedly “clumsy” Romney. Also, a throwaway line about some “ongoing, out-of-hand crisis” that could, you know, hurt Obama if Romney would just stop being like Shemp.
I don’t know, dropping the ball on a 48-hours-prior warning that the embassy might be threatened? Is that clumsy?