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June 2012
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REPENTING Media revisit conclusions about Romney, Russia

Remember when Mitt Romney was excoriated by the mainstream media in 2012 for saying Russia was our top foe in the world?

Romney's remarks came after President Obama was caught on an open mike telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who at the time was a straw man for the former and current president, Vladimir Putin, that he (Obama) would have "more flexibility" to appease Russian interests after the election.

Specifically, Romney said the following:

"Russia â ¦is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world's worst actors â ¦ But when these - these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them, when Assad, for instance, is murdering his own people â ¦ we go to the United Nations, and who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors? It is always Russia, typically with China alongside."

As The Daily Caller reported earlier this week, a number of liberal publications, including those that ridiculed Romney for his statement at the time, are repenting in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's statement that it is "in agreement" with the Russian action. The Caller cites an article by Isaac Chotiner in the liberal New Republic saying that Romney's assessment was "exactly right."

But at the time Romney made the remark, the always-Obama friendly national media piled on. The New York Times in an editorial said of Romney: "His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender."

(Compare that with a recent assessment of Obama by the similarly liberal Washington Post, which editorialized that the president's foreign policy is "based on fantasy.")

MSNBC's Chris Matthews said of Romney's remark, "I don't know what decade this guy is living in. It sounds like '72, '52 even. It's not Stalin over there. It's not Kruschev. It's not Brezhnev. It's Medvedev." A Matthews guest chimed in, "It made Mitt Romney look dumb."

Media critic Howard Kurtz, in an article this week for Fox News, quoted former Romney campaign strategist Stuart Stevens as saying that this storyline, as amplified by MSNBC "unfortunately â ¦ (drove) a narrative for many editors and reporters" that unfairly damaged Romney's foreign policy credentials and ultimately his campaign.

Such group-think in the mainstream media these days is its greatest flaw. The media treatment of a candid and perfectly defensible observation by Romney is all too typical and a big reason why major media has a growing credibility problem with the public.

Of course not everyone is conceding Romney knew what he was talking about. Tommy Vietor, the president's former foreign policy spokesman, told Kurtz it is "ridiculous" to claim Russia is America's top geopolitical adversary and says media reports about Ukraine have been "typically reactionary and lacking in context."

Given that as we write this Russian troops have occupied the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and Russia is taking steps to formally annex it, we find Vietor's take hard to swallow. If that really is the White House assessment of Russia these days, the Post editorial is correct - the administration's view is a fantasy.

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