CNN's Wolf Blizer took a key Obama supporter to task on Wednesday over Vice President Biden's use of an anonymous quote to slam Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign had denied saying the racially-charged remark.
"[W]hy would a sitting vice president issue this condemnation of Mitt Romney and his campaign based on a British newspaper with some anonymous quote?" Blitzer asked on Wednesday's The Situation Room.
Other CNN reporters did not share Blitzer's skepticism, though, as five stories on the matter aired on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning with none of them challenging the appropriateness of Biden's remark. The story aired even though correspondent Jim Acosta admitted that the source for the alleged Romney adviser quote could not be independently confirmed. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
"[T]here really is no way to confirm whether or not that adviser actually said that or whether this was an even an adviser to the Romney campaign," Acosta reported on Thursday's Early Start. Yet CNN still decided to jump all over the quote and report Biden's attacks as a normal campaign story.
In contrast, the same network took four days to air President Obama's controversial "you didn't build that" remark – and only when Mitt Romney made it the centerpiece of his campaign attack.
"Is it appropriate for the Vice President of the United States to issue this kind of condemnation of the Republican presidential candidate based on an anonymous source in a British newspaper without any confirmation this is actually what was said about the President of the United States?" Blitzer challenged Obama supporter and former congressman Tim Roemer.
Blitzer admitted that he would understand an Obama surrogate firing back about the quote, but expressed surprise that the Vice President would engage in such an attack.
"I can understand other campaign surrogates, if you will," said Blitzer, later adding that Biden's attack "surprised me." Meanwhile, correspondent Jim Acosta simply reported Biden's comment without echoing Blitzer's assumptions about its controversy.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 26 on The Situation Room at 5:31 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
WOLF BLITZER: Mitt Romney's campaign is vehemently denying a controversial quote published in a British newspaper. The London Telegraph says the quote comes from an anonymous Romney adviser, but that hasn't been confirmed and it's certainly causing a bit of an uproar. Here's the quote. I'll put it up on the screen.
"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he," referring to Mitt Romney, "feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have." Now, the Romney campaign says that comment certainly didn't come from them, but that didn't stop the Obama campaign from immediately pouncing, calling it, and I'm quoting now, "stunningly offensive."
And the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, released a statement personally in part saying this. "The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world stage. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."
And Tim Roemer is joining us right now, the former U.S. ambassador to India. He served under President Obama. He was a 9/11 commissioner, also a former United States congressman, now a key Obama supporter.
Ambassador Roemer, thanks very much for joining us and let me get right to the issue at hand. Is it appropriate for the Vice President of the United States to issue this kind of condemnation of the Republican presidential candidate based on an anonymous source in a British newspaper without any confirmation this is actually what was said about the President of the United States?
BLITZER: The specific question is there is this anonymous quote in a British newspaper, we don't know if it's true, there's no name attached. The campaign, the Romney campaign, issued a statement saying this:
"Today the race for the highest office in the land was diminished to a sad level when the Vice President of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign. The President's own press secretary has repeatedly discredited anonymous sources, yet his political adviser saw fit to advance a falsehood. We have very serious problems confronting our nation, and American families are hurting. Yet the Obama campaign continues to try to divert voters' attention with specious shiny objects. We have more faith in the American voters, and know they will see this latest desperate ploy for what it is."
So let me repeat the question. Why would the vice president -- I can understand other campaign surrogates, if you will, but why would a sitting vice president issue this condemnation of Mitt Romney and his campaign based on a British newspaper with some anonymous quote?
ROEMER: And, again, Wolf, why would Governor Romney or his campaign spend so much time putting this statement together when they have pledged to stop criticism at the water's edge and do foreign policy and talk about how to benefit America? You know the President –
BLITZER: But, sir --
ROEMER: The President is talking --
BLITZER: They're reacting – they were reacting -- excuse me -- they were reacting to the statement that the Obama campaign put out and the Vice President signed. It was their reaction to what the Vice President said. They weren't trying to make this an issue in London. They denied from the start that anybody in a position of authority in the Romney campaign made such an abusive statement about the sitting president of the United States. So the question is, why would you react – when I say you, I mean the Obama campaign – in the way you did?
BLITZER: The issues are important. There are serious national security differences, serious domestic, economic differences, social issues. That is all, obviously, worthy of debate. But a sitting vice president of the United States condemning an anonymous quote in The Telegraph, a newspaper in London, which the Romney campaign says is totally, totally false, that no one in position of authority would say such a thing, that surprised me and that's why I raised it with you and the Obama campaign trying to make a big deal out of it.