The video segment above won’t please the many folks who want a red-faced apology from Andrea Mitchell. She issues no such thing.
The longtime reporter and MSNBC stand accused of doctoring videotape from Mitt Romney’s campaign stop in Pennsylvania, where he used the U.S. Postal Service and Wawa convenience stores to contrast the pitfalls of the federal government and the wonders of private industry.
The alleged infraction occurred yesterday, when Mitchell seized on the part of the tape in which Romney praised Wawa’s sandwich kiosks. “I wanted to order a sandwich. You press a little touch-tone keypad. All right, you just touch that . . . touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich,” ranted the candidate.
That, suggested Mitchell, was the candidate’s “supermarket scanner” moment. She even snarked that Romney hadn’t “been in too many Wawas along the roadside in Pennsylvania.”
Critics bellowed: MSNBC’s editing of the appearance neglected context — that Romney was using Wawa as a runway to a larger point about government-run entities. A full explanation by MSNBC of how Wawa fit into Romney’s argument certainly would have edified the audience. Yet this was no G eorge Zimmerman video-editing job.
In the unedited version, Mitt Romney comes off as highly impressed with Wawa’s sando-kiosks. And in MSNBC’s edited version, Mitt Romney comes off as highly impressed with Wawa’s sando-kiosks.
In a statement sent to me this afternoon, MSNBC stands behind the editing: “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers.”
The mediawide obsession with video editing misplaces the unfairness visited upon the Romney people. The harm to the campaign wasn’t driven so much by MSNBC’s selective excerpting as it was by Mitchell’s introduction, which stated outright that the tape adds another exhibit to the docket for Romney as aloof rich guy. As explained here, expressing astonishment at the progress of Wawa in sandwich-ordering technology doesn’t signal out-of-touchness: Wawa is at the forefront of this industry — easily among the top 1 percent of convenience marts in the sando-kiosk category.
Perhaps if Mitchell had been as familiar with Wawa’s offerings as she expected Romney to be, she wouldn’t have chided him for his enthusiasm. Those who don’t get Wawa are bound to make big mistakes in journalism, ones that entail red-faced mea culpas.