Accuracy in Media

When Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt was invited to appear on CNN to discuss the campaign’s new ad on Mitt Romney, he probably didn’t expect that he would have to spend his entire time on the air defending the ad.

But that’s what he was forced to do when CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield questioned the accuracy of the ad:

Banfield: I want to take you to task on this one, because it was real heart wrenching to listen to those steelworkers in your ad that was ripping Mitt Romney for being at the helm of Bain when, in fact, he wasn’t at the helm when that company went bankrupt. So was that fair or was that dirty?

LaBolt disputed Banfield’s assertion that Romney wasn’t at Bain by saying that he was still the owner of Bain when he left to run the 2002 Winter Olympics and that he “put the company on the path to bankruptcy,” and that as a result 750 employees lost their job.

Banfield was having none of that and accused LaBolt of “mincing dates and cheating” in an effort to defend the content of the ad.

She then brought up the fact that The Washington Post’s fact checker gave the ad one “Pinocchio” for shading the truth and would have given it two, except that there were some gray areas that could have gone either way.

The Post criticized the ad for concentrating only on Bain’s investment in GS Industries and making it seem that this one single investment is representative of Romney’s business practices and values. The Post added that while Romney was running Bain the company did add to its debt load, which may have contributed to its demise, but it wasn’t the only reason the company filed for bankruptcy. Also, it failed to note that the Kansas City plant was facing difficult times before Bain took over.

While LaBolt said that the ad was not an attack on private equity, there is no doubt that while Romney was the main target, the campaign certainly did nothing to try to portray the industry in a positive light.

Banfield and the Post weren’t the only critics of the ad. Even Obama’s former car czar Steve Rattner thought the ad was unfair.

Rattner appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday and commented on the ad:

“I think the ad is unfair. Look Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs. Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for its investors, most of whom were pension funds and endowments and foundations. And it did it superbly well, acting within the rules, acting very responsibly, and was a leading firm. And so yeah, I do think to pick out an example of somebody who lost their job, unfortunately, this is part of capitalism, this is part of life, and I don’t think Bain Capital did anything they need to be embarrassed about.”

Maybe the next time the Obama campaign wants to attack Romney for his business dealings they should check with someone who actually knows something about business.





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