The liberal media, normally staunch supporters of President Obama, have been forced to backpedal a little this week after a particularly vicious ad by Obama SuperPAC Priorities USA Action was released. The ad suggested that Mitt Romney was responsible for the death of a steelworker’s wife because Bain Capital closed his plant and left him without insurance.
CNN was one of the first networks to jump on the story. An analysis of the facts, by Brianna Kellar, reveals that Romney had nothing to do with the steel mill closing in 2001 since he left Bain to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1999. Besides, the wife of steelworker Joe Soptic was covered by her own insurance until she left her job in 2002-2003.
The New York Times, while not labeling the ad as negative outright, did call into question the timeline that Soptic mentioned in the ad about when his wife died. The ad made it appear that it was shortly after Soptic lost his insurance rather than the actual time period, which was in 2006, a full five years after he lost his job.
The Times also mentioned that the steel mill, GST, was struggling before Bain purchased the company, so it wasn’t clear whether or not it would have remained open had Bain not bought the company.
Another liberal newspaper, The Washington Post, didn’t even go that far and instead chose to label the ad “provocative” and wrap its analysis around the broader issue of negative campaign ads.
During a discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on August 8, both Mark Halperin of Time magazine and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post condemned the ad, with Halperin grilling Senior Obama Campaign Advisor Robert Gibbs. This left Gibbs to try and equate the ad with a new Romney ad attacking Obama on gutting welfare reform, which only frustrated Halperin.
In addition, Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter, was one of several Obama staffers who had claimed to have no knowledge of the story of the family. Yet a recording surfaced of an Obama campaign conference call which Cutter hosted in May in which Soptic told reporters the same story later featured in the Priorities SuperPAC spot. In other words, Cutter, speaking for the Obama campaign, was caught in a lie.
The liberal media would have liked nothing more than to provide cover for the Obama campaign on this ad. But the very nature of the attack, the lack of factual evidence, and the dishonesty in the explanation for it made it hard even for them to defend what is an indefensible ad.