Timeline: The Romney Campaign's Odd Response to the Embassy Protests

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 12 2012 9:43 AM

Timeline: The Romney Campaign's Odd Response to the Embassy Protests

It's a simple story, but it's got enough moving parts to be worth retelling in brief. So:

- A group of Coptic Christians, now understandably in hiding, released a baffling satirical video that mocked Muhummad. (You can see the video here.)

- Over several days, the video plays about as well as the 2006 "Danish cartoons" did. Early on Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Egypt (home to many Coptics) releases a statement that "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." (The embassy itself, as CNBC reports, had been partially emptied before the statement was made.) The statement is tweeted at 6:11 a.m. Eastern time.

- Despite that overture, protests break out at the embassy—culminating in the raising of a black-and-white flag that resembles the icon of al-Qaida. At 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, the embassy's Twitter account reiterates that it "stands by" the statement.

- In the next few hours, as America's embassy in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked, the Obama administration and the State Department distance themselves from the Egyptian embassy's press release. The embassy's statement is disavowed; Hillary Clinton says this:

The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

Politico's Byron Tau posted that at 10:06 p.m. ET.

- At 10:09 p.m. ET, the Romney campaign sends out a statement to reporters. It's "embargoed until midnight tonight," i.e., until after the 9/11 anniversary. Romney:

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.

At 10:24, the campaign lifts the embargo and reporters start mentioning the statement.

- At 12:01 a.m. ET, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweets:

Screen shot 2012-09-12 at 9.29.46 AM

Notice that the timestamp says "9:01 p.m." Twitter's website is cued to Pacific Time. Both the RNC and the Romney campaign were honoring a 9/11 embargo that ended only when 9/12 came to the Eastern time zone.

It was only after this that the extent of the attacks in Benghazi became known. I think that's why, today, you're seeing the GOP leadership in Congress—Cantor, Boehner—condemn the attacks without mentioning the Obama administration at all. No one else is trudging into that particular tar pit.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 12:58 PM Why Can’t States Do More to Protect Patients From Surprise Medical Bills? It’s complicated.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 1:01 PM Watch Pixar’s First Trailer for Inside Out
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 12:56 PM My Year Without Flying I’ve stayed on the ground, to help fight climate change. Here’s what happened.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 2 2014 12:53 PM The Panic Virus How public health officials are keeping Americans calm about the Ebola threat.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?