Romney Aide Admonishes Rude Reporters, NBC Treats It as a Gaffe

On Tuesday's NBC Today, campaign correspondent Peter Alexander attempted to spin bad behavior by reporters covering Mitt Romney's trip to Poland as a new controversy for the presidential campaign: "This morning, after reporters tried to shout questions to Romney while he left a plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier....A campaign spokesman angrily intervened....The spokesman later called reporters to apologize." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

The report featured a clip of one female reporter screaming at Romney: "Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?!" A campaign aide chastised: "This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect." He could be heard saying: "Shove it. Shove it." That same aide reportedly also said "Kiss my ass," but NBC did not include that in its coverage.

Alexander began the report by highlighting supposed gaffes made by Romney during the overseas trip: "Mitt Romney, after accidentally offending the Brits and then angering Palestinians, just finished up a foreign policy speech here in Poland, where he tried to project the image of a leader who is ready for the big stage."

After detailing Romney's stop in Poland, Alexander hyped some of the Republican candidate's comments in Israel "that largely overshadowed his visit": "He told Jewish donors in an off-camera fundraiser that Israeli culture is part of what's enabled Israel to be more economically productive than its Palestinian neighbors....Some Palestinian leaders were outraged."

In later news brief, anchor Natalie Morales declared: "The controversy from Romney's visit to Israel is spilling over, where Palestinians say his choice of words to praise Israel was racist."

Alexander did briefly cite push-back from the Romney campaign on the issue: "The Romney campaign called the reporting of the comments a 'gross mischaracterization.' Their top strategist said, 'This was not in any way an attempt to slight the Palestinians, and everyone knows that.'"

On Monday night, all three network evening newscasts manufactured controversy around Romney's Israel comments.  


Here is a full transcript of Alexander's July 31 report:

7:15AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is in Poland today, but he is still feeling the heat from his trip to Israel. NBC's Peter Alexander has the latest now from Warsaw. Good day to you, Peter.

PETER ALEXANDER: Natalie, good morning to you. Mitt Romney, after accidentally offending the Brits and then angering Palestinians, just finished up a foreign policy speech here in Poland, where he tried to project the image of a leader who is ready for the big stage.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Mitt Romney in Poland; GOP Presidential Hopeful Fighting Palestinian Backlash]

With a solemn visit to Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a meeting with the country's president...

MITT ROMNEY: Friendship between our nations is one which-

ALEXANDER: ...Mitt Romney has used this trip to try to contrast himself with President Obama, who Romney says has neglected this eastern European ally.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [REPORTER]: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?!

ALEXANDER: But this morning, after reporters tried to shout questions to Romney while he left a plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [ROMNEY CAMPAIGN AIDE]: This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.

ALEXANDER: A campaign spokesman angrily intervened.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B [ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN]: Shove it. Shove it. Really.

ALEXANDER: The spokesman later called reporters to apologize.

Romney began the week in Israel with a comment that largely overshadowed his visit. He told Jewish donors in an off-camera fundraiser that Israeli culture is part of what's enabled Israel to be more economically productive than its Palestinian neighbors. He said the same holds true for other neighboring countries like the U.S. and Mexico. "Culture makes all the difference," he said. "I look out over the city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."

Some Palestinian leaders were outraged. The Romney campaign called the reporting of the comments a "gross mischaracterization." Their top strategist said, "This was not in any way an attempt to slight the Palestinians, and everyone knows that."

And this visit to Poland is in part designed to help Mitt Romney try to win over support from Polish Americans and Catholics back in the United States. Mitt Romney does head home a little bit later today. Natalie.

MORALES: Peter Alexander in Warsaw, Poland. Thanks so much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC