Ari Shapiro of National Public Radio went on the defensive after being identified as one of the reporters caught on an open microphone coordinating questions before Wednesday’s press conference with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Almost all of the questions by reporters presumed Romney make a mistake in criticizing the Obama administration’s response to attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya.
Shapiro took to Twitter to push back, noting that he takes criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, and re-tweeting a statement by James Rosen of Fox News, who said coordination was “SOP” (standard operating procedure) in the White House and State Department press corps to “avoid duplication.”
But Jake Tapper of ABC disagreed–and if avoiding duplication were the goal, why were almost all of the questions the same?
Shaprio’s beat is the Romney campaign, and while he is often even-handed, he is also prone to bouts of egregious anti-Romney bias. Last month, Shapiro parroted several falsehoods about Romney’s tax policy and about the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors–filtering Romney’s message through a critical lens, while amplifying the Obama’s claims without subjecting them to similar analysis or fact-checking.
Today, in the aftermath of the open mic controversy, Shapiro raised new suspicions with a partial quote of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, in a report on Romney’s reaction. Shapiro reported that the embassy said: “we firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” Others–even some Romney critics–noted that embassy had also singled out those who hurt “the religious feelings of Muslims”–a far less innocuous statement in the context of debate over the administration’s stance.
The mainstream media is Romney’s most effective opponent–more so than the Obama himself, who compounded the error of appeasing Islamic radicals by overcompensating, declaring that Egypt is not an American ally. That may become true in time, but for now Obama’s mistake is worse than anything Romney has said.
Few of Obama’s mistakes ever make it through the mainstream media filter, however, and the collaboration that Shapiro and his colleagues inadvertently revealed ensures that this remains the case.