Accuracy in Media

Go ahead, read the headline again. Mine is almost as bizarre as the original Associated Press piece, titled “How is Romney like 007? Both have money offshore.” Giving us yet another example of the AP’s “New Distinctiveness” in reporting, readers are offered a six-step tutorial on how to hide your money from the Feds. Clearly the intent of this article is to imply that that’s what GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney has done, but the AP doesn’t actually accuse Gov. Romney of any untoward financial activity, right? Read the lead sentence closely (emphasis added):

“Movie super spies James Bond and Jason Bourne use them. So does real-life U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who says he pays his taxes, and untold numbers of Americans who don’t.”

Through each step, the AP is pleased to report how criminals and tax dodgers use foreign (usually Swiss or Cayman like Romney) accounts to avoid the divine wrath of the Internal Revenue Service; but they neglect to offer legal examples for depositing. In “Step 1: Get a million dollars,” we are advised:

“How? There are essentially two ways — legally or illegally. For those with dirty cash to launder — drug traffickers, mobsters, smugglers, swindlers and such — offshore accounts hidden from the law are the obvious choice (skip to Step 5).”

Don’t hold your breath for the legal method of gaining wealth here. In “Step 2: Decide whether to tell the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. tax agency,” Americans (and therefore Romney) must choose whether to alert the Feds. If they do not, beware: “The government has landed some big fish — notably the largest Swiss bank, UBS AG — and tax cheats are getting scooped up in the net.”

In “Step 3: Look for legal ways to pare taxes,” the author removes any remaining shroud of unmotivated reporting by calling in the experts at Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), a partisan interest group that has been a cheerleader for Stimulus I, the estate tax and Obamacare. The Associated Press quotes the CTJ, saying “There’s a thin line between tax avoidance and evasion…A lot of these transactions might not stand up in court if the IRS had the resources to pursue them.” Either way, Romney is a bad guy.

The AP continues to paint a dark picture of anyone holding an offshore account by trying to diagnose a motive in Step 4:

“Some people want to hide wealth from spouses or business partners; doctors worry about malpractice suits; others think creditors or the government might try to seize their assets…Wealthy residents of oppressive countries may feel safer with their savings elsewhere. Dictators, fearing revolt, often do, too.”

With a free press so willing to promote the expanded powers of the Internal Revenue Service, they might be right on the “oppressive countries” part.

The media must be working for an immediate narrative shift away from the Planned Parenthood/Komen/Obamacare/Catholic Church/contraception controversy that has put the organized Left on the defensive. At this point, attempts to shift back to class warfare themes are clearly on display. At least the AP restrained itself from mentioning the fact that Romney is Mormon this time.

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