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Heckling Romney Abroad

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Mitt Romney might have thought it was eminently sensible in an NBC interview in London to repeat exactly what the TV networks had already reported on security at the London Olympics, namely, that there was room for concern.

Romney succeeded only in demonstrating how unbelievably shameless and partisan our "objective" media can be. The networks and national newspapers aggressively declared Romney had committed a diplomatic fiasco overseas and repeated London tabloid headlines heckling Romney with insults, such as "Mitt the Twit."

Here's what the networks said pre-Romney. On the July 24 "Good Morning America," ABC reporter Nick Schifrin lamented "an absolute fiasco with the private guards who were supposed to be doing this. Police tell ABC News they're worried those private security guards are not adequately trained." That same night, CBS featured an unidentified British man complaining the transportation system was "going to be a bit of a fiasco. And people are going to get stranded."

On the July 17 "NBC Nightly News," Brian Williams warned, "Ten days to go now until the Olympic games get underway in London, and today, the man whose company was hired to provide security at all the Olympic venues admitted his company screwed up." A member of Parliament told NBC it was a "humiliating shambles for the company."

But the same Brian Williams sat down with Romney on July 25 and asked, "And in the short time you've been here in London, do they look ready to your experienced eye?" Romney calmly replied it was hard to know: "There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging." In other words, almost exactly what Williams reported the week before. He then went on to praise the "great volunteers here." But nobody heard that part of the sound bite.

The irony here? Everything Williams asked after this Olympics question were typical hardballs: Did he flip-flop on "assault weapons;" why won't he release more of his tax returns; even, why he was a "hidden man" about his Mormon religion. For the Romney-hating press, even the softball questions can be turned around and accelerated to bean the Republican.

Philip Rucker of The Washington Post announced on behalf of all journalists that Romney would never measure up to the grandeur that was the Barack Obama European Rock Star Tour of 2008: "For any candidate on a foreign trip, the margin for error is small, with every misstep magnified, fairly or not -- especially so for Romney, whose visit is drawing inevitable comparisons to Barack Obama's largely successful foreign tour as a candidate in 2008."

Obama appeared in Berlin to a throng of an estimated 200,000 Germans four years ago. Back then, NBC's Brian Williams offered shock and awe: "Here in Berlin today, not far from where the wall once stood, the man from Chicago, Illinois, the first ever African-American running as presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, brought throngs of people into the center of Berlin, streaming into this city, surging to get close to him, to hear his message."

Williams also surged just to get close to him and asked Obama just how much he would inspire Berliners: "When an American politician comes to Berlin, we've had some iconic utterances in the past. We've had 'Ich bin Ein.' We've had, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' ... Is the phraseology that you would like remembered: 'People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment, this is our time'?" Really. That line was forgotten within a day.

He arrived home to NBC's Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press" asking what Michelle Obama would think: "When you get home and Michelle says to you, 'Barack, what did you learn that surprised you? And did you change your mind about anything based on this entire trip?'" Obama's loved ones are offered the first chance for spin control.

On CBS, morning host Chris Wragge was almost trash-talking to GOP strategist Kevin Madden: "Got to admit, 200,000 in Berlin compared to (McCain) speaking at a German restaurant, and you got to give the advantage to Obama right there. So what does Senator McCain then do to overcome this public perception that this was just beyond successful for this last week for Obama?"

Obama was presented by the media as "beyond successful" on a daily basis in 2008, and it's ridiculous for the Ruckers in the media to expect Romney to receive anything like the adulation they dumped on Hope and Change Man the last time around. Obama-loving journalists don't grade Romney on a curve. They flagrantly fail him before he can barely finish a sentence.

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