Hilary Rosen reverses course, apologizes to Ann Romney

WASHINGTON -- After sparking a firestorm with her accusation that mother-of-five Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life,” Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen apologized Thursday afternoon after she had stood by her comments earlier in the day.

“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” Rosen said in a statement. “As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last night were poorly chosen.”

It was a change from hours earlier, when Rosen went on Twitter to say she admires the wife of GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, but then added, “But your husband shouldn’t say you are his expert on women and the economy.”

If only for a news cycle or two in a long campaign, Rosen managed to take the limelight from President Obama and Mitt Romney. Romney’s team tried to tie Rosen’s views to Obama. Obama’s team denounced Rosen’s comments and said she has nothing to do with the president’s reelection campaign.


For many, Rosen appears to have stepped forward from nowhere. But her knock on Ann Romney is far from the first time Rosen’s stances have sparked controversy.

She most prominently served as the Recording Industry Assn. of America’s chief executive from 1998 to 2003, where she was known for leading the group’s effort to force the shutdown of Napster, a music-sharing online site that ran afoul of U.S. copyright laws.

When Rosen departed the RIAA, she cited a need to spend more time with her children as one of the reasons.

“During my tenure here, the recording industry has undergone dramatic challenges and it is well positioned for future success. I have been extremely proud to be a part of this industry transition,” she said in a statement at the time of her departure.


Others did not give her such a positive review. In a piece titled “Hating Hilary,” published in Wired magazine, Matt Bai encapsulates the scorn she earned for her leadership during the RIAA’s crackdown on music piracy.

“Reviled by college kids, music fans, and more than a few recording artists for the RIAA’s role in forcing the shutdown of Napster, Rosen is seen as the embodiment of a venal corporate culture hurtling toward obsolescence,” Bai wrote.

In 2008, Rosen started working as the Huffington Post’s political director and Washington, D.C., editor-at-large during the election cycle, but was eventually removed for consulting work she did for British Petroleum in the wake of the oil spill in the gulf. Rosen still contributes to Huffington Post. In the same year, she began to appear on CNN as an on-air commentator, the role that has landed her right in the middle of the national conversation.

She currently works at SKDKnickerbocker, a strategic communications firm in Washington, D.C., which she joined in 2010.


On Thursday morning, while she did not repeat the claim that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life, she continued to criticize Mitt Romney for portraying his wife as an important economic advisor.

“I think the issue that I’m focusing on is, ‘Does Mitt Romney have a vision for bringing women up economically, and can he himself stop referring to his wife as his economic surrogate?’ That’s an important thing. He’s the one that keeps doing this. Not me,” she said in an interview on CNN.