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Josh Marshall at TPM first noticed this quote in a New York Times story, and subsequently Greg Sargent has picked up on it.

On Tuesday the New York Times had a story on Mitt Romney's  highly criticized statements about President Obama's handling of the Egypt and Libya crises, with the following quote.

We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath,” one of Mr. Romney’s senior advisers said on Wednesday. “I think the reality is that while there may be a difference of opinion regarding issues of timing, I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”
As Josh Marshall said, this is the Romney camp admitting the story fit their narrative so they went with it.
So basically, we saw this thing happen. It fit with our campaign narrative. So we pounced.

The bolded part of the quote has disappeared,  replaced with this

Mr. Romney’s camp was surprised by the blowback. “While there may be differences of opinion regarding issues of timing,” Mr. Chen said, “I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”
Josh Marshall has reprinted the whole original story because of the attention it's now getting. The new article - illustrated with the famous smirk leaving the podium photograph- is here.

There is quite a bit of discussion about the paper's judgment in deleting this quote, and indeed the the NYT Public Editor has weighed in and agrees both versions should have remained on the web.

A lot of attention about attribution of the quote is being generated, but as Greg Sargent says, the more important point is the Romney campaign's willingness to  admit they used the situation for political gain. They used a diplomatic crisis for political advantage, and shamelessly put their craven opportunism on display for all to see. Which can only be interpreted to mean that they see nothing wrong with taking advantage of the 'opportunity' that the crisis presented.  

As Greg Sargent says:

So, what plainly happened here is that Chen agreed to put the second half of the quote on the record, but not the first half. Yet it’s obvious that Chen is the one who said that the campaign pounced on the Libya situation because it fit the campaign’s “narrative.”
Again, my interest here is not really in the Times’ journalism. Rather, I believe it’s newsworthy that we now know the identity of the top adviser who made this candid admission about what happened here.
Hopefully this will continue to get media attention and expose Romney for the opportunist that he is. Mitt Romney should be kept as far away from any position of leadership as possible.

Fri Sep 14, 2012 at  5:19 AM PT: h/t to IBQ in the comments for finding this:

A complete rewrite with the same URL, diff byline, (9+ / 0-)

sure looks bad, even if there are legitimate reasons for it. You can see a comparison of the two versions, which shows that only one author of the original article is also on the byline of the replacement. With so many differences, why wouldn't they just pull down the original and post the new one using a different URL, one that doesn't contain the title of the original?

BTW, NewsDiffs could turn out to be an interesting and useful site because you can see the "before" and "after" versions of altered articles in the NYT, CNN, Politico, and BBC. Before Josh published the text of the original, I went searching for a cached or syndicated copy and ran across the NewsDiffs site

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