Accuracy in Media

A story in the Boston Globe on Thursday was touted by some Democrats and other critics of Mitt Romney as proof that his tenure at Bain Capital extended for several years after the time he claimed he had stopped working at the firm. The Globe article, as with other similar previous stories, has come under fire from and others for misleading the public that it was a new revelation.

The Globe article relies heavily on SEC documents which show that Romney remained a principal with Bain well after he claimed he left the firm in 1999. The article cites a former SEC official who “said the contradictory statements could have legal implications in some instances.”

Those documents weren’t uncovered by the Globe, but instead by Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo, which had already written stories calling Romney’s Bain ties into question, according to

In response to the charges, the Globe responded by issuing the following statement:

Pieces of this story were reported by other news organizations. We believe the Globe advanced the story with a more comprehensive and complete look that broke significant news and included additional documents. However, our policy is to give credit to other news organizations for their work. In the editing and shortening process, I have learned, passages giving credit were removed. That was a mistake, and we are now adding appropriate credit back to the online version.

In other words they recycled information obtained from a left-wing magazine and website, omitting the source, and making it appear it was new and would prove Romney was lying about Bain. But they got caught and now they want to correct the record, sort of. says the SEC filings don’t reveal anything new and don’t back up the Obama campaign’s claim that Romney lied or committed a felony:

None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said. It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example. We see nothing to contradict the statement that a Bain spokesman issued in response to the Globe article:

Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period.

While didn’t label these claims as “all wet” as they had done with the Obama campaign’s outsourcing charges, they left little doubt that these latest charges also don’t hold up against the evidence presented.

We would reassess our judgment should somebody come up with evidence that Romney took part in specific management decisions or had any active role (not just a title) at Bain after he left to head the Olympics. But nothing we’ve seen directly contradicts Romney’s statements — which he has certified as true under pain of federal prosecution — that he “has not had any active role” with Bain or “been involved in the operations” of Bain since then.

The Obama campaign has tried to damage the Romney candidacy, citing this Globe story, and by making the explosive charge that he might have committed a felony. They were apparently hoping to shift attention from the continued weak economy, low consumer confidence, and a full-fledged scandal resulting in Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt of Congress.

In addition, it has resulted in the unusual situation of CNN coming to Romney’s defense. John King addressed this on The Situation Room, with Wolf Blitzer:

“[Pagliuca] said ‘Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and he has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure.’ The three other sources were very consistent with that, Wolf. Now of the four sources, three of them are Democrats. Two of them are active Obama supporters in campaign 2012. They say they were all there at Bain at the time. They said Mitt Romney left pretty quickly. The deal with the Olympics was struck pretty quickly. They said we need you, we need you to come now and all four insisted he left in the middle of February 1999.”

King reiterated his findings on AC360 with Anderson Cooper. David Gergen was also on that segment. He not only personally confirmed King’s findings, but added more detail, and more praise for Bain:

I talked today to two of the senior leaders of Bain Capital, people I have known for a long time. They said exactly what John King just reported, that when the request came in from the Olympics for him to come out there, he said, guys, you know, I don’t really want to go, but in the end I think I must.

And he left within five to 10 days. It was a real hurry. A lot of the documents that pertain to a number of entities took a while to unwind. They were in no hurry because they didn’t think there was anything like this ever coming.

But the critical thing is, what they said, to a person, is after February 1999, he made no calls on behalf of Bain Capital. He made no hiring decisions. He made no investment decisions. And they suggested another way to check this would be to talk to people who invested in the next round of fund-raising — money raising for Bain Capital about whether they thought he was running things. And they said, if you check with him, you’ll find they thought he had left.

Now I should tell you, Anderson, that I have had not only personal relationships, I started out with Bain Capital folks, partners, been a great philanthropist here in Boston but I have also had financial data and I might give them a couple of paid speeches for them. And I also was part of a company that was sold to Bain Capital. I was on the board of a company. We sold, they gambled. We thought they did a terrific job. But I did realize some financial gain from that.

Having said all that, knowing what I know about the Bain Capital partnership, how I think that they are people of real integrity. They’re very well regarded in Boston. I think that the — I think that the Romney people, the burden is on the Obama people to prove this. today, which is a respected organization, said they stood by their reporting. That Romney had no active engagement with Bain Capital after February 1999.

Indeed, the burden should be on the Obama people to prove their accusations, and back up their suggestion that Romney may have committed a felony. The Obama people know they can normally count on the media to spin this sort of charge on their behalf. And certainly the MSNBC gang was doing just that. But much to their credit, CNN and The Washington Post called out the Obama campaign for their continued low-road misrepresentations.

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