All of my life
I’ve been a-waitin’
Tonight there’ll be no…hesitatin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me
Mitt Romney’s campaign is lying about Jeep.
Mitt Romney has released (“approved”) an ad claiming that the Obama administration sold “Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.” This is a follow-up to a statement Romney made on the campaign trail that Fiat is “thinking of moving all [Jeep] production to China.”
This is easy to debunk. Romney’s statement was from a Bloomberg article claiming that Chrysler was considering producing some Jeeps in China. At most, this means that Chrysler might consider producing additional Jeeps in China – this does not mean that any production will move to China. Chrysler even put out a statement just to make sure nobody was confused:
Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. (Emphasis in original.)
Many news organizations have said that this claim is false. The headline in the Detroit Free Press says it all: “Romney repeats false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China; Chrysler refutes story.” The Detroit News said Romney’s statement contained “false claims” about this, noting that this was “apparently a reaction to right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a Bloomberg News story.”
We could go on. The Huffington Post said that the ad “the ad goes from misleading to something more nefarious” by highlighting the words “plans to return Jeep output to China.” A Tennessee newspaper said, “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney repeated a false claim Thursday night that Chrysler Group may move all Jeep vehicle production to China.” NBC News printed a headline titled “Jeep Trick.”
Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, asked the most important question: will “reporters who are usually timid about calling candidates out for falsehoods” start “reporting the scale of Romney’s dishonesty with his new ad.”
What is happening here in Ohio? Are reporters doing their jobs and reporting on this lie, or are they just “reporting the controversy,” or, worse, not even reporting on this at all?
The verdict is not encouraging so far.
The Toledo Blade damned the ad with faint praise, noting that it was a “more accurate interpretation of a Bloomberg News report last week than what [Romney] said” at the campaign event. But the Blade fell into the “report the controversy” trap by noting only that “The Obama campaign attacked the ad as full of falsehoods.” What is interesting is the headline on the Blade’s web page article. The headline is, “Romney tweaks Jeep production to China claim.” But the URL indicates that the original headline was more clear that the claim was false: “http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2012/10/28/Romney-ignoring-false-Jeep-production-to-China-issue.html.” We wonder who made this change.
The Cincinnati Enquirer hasn’t, from what we can find, mentioned this issue. An article noted that the “campaign release [sic] a television ad saying Chrysler plans to send its Jeep production to China, which Chrysler has denied.” There is no fact checking and the lede is buried deep. The reference is found at the end of an article which contains this embarrassing example of campaign journalism: “As with other events, the crowd often interrupted Romney and their wild cheers echoed through the gym.”
The Dispatch has done the best on this. The Dispatch in an article last Friday said that “Romney incorrectly stated that Chrysler parent Fiat was considering moving all Jeep production to China . . .” Then, in a blog post the next day, the Paper repeated that the statement was “incorrect” and noted other reports claiming that “Romney ‘misinterpreted’ the . . . Bloomberg story.” So far, so good, for Ohio’s Greatest Paper.
The Dispatch later published an Ad Watch piece on Romney’s television ad. The analysis is beautiful in its succinctness: “Oh, boy.”
The Dispatch reports on some minor back and forth about Romney’s real position on the auto bailout, then says that “what is being considered is adding production in China — not shutting down American Jeep factories such as the one in Toledo.” The piece also notes that “Chrysler is investing $500 million in its Toledo Jeep Complex and more than 1,000 new jobs were promised there.”
The Ad Check author, Plunderbund Kudos recipient Joe Vardon seems to want to say that Romney lied, but can’t quite work up the courage to attack the candidate supported by his editors. In addition to “Oh boy,” he says, “the Romney ad, on its face, makes some true statements. But then there’s, well …” Yet no real conclusion about the veracity of the ad appears in the Dispatch. Nothing like, “false,” “misleading,” or “lie” appears. Journalistic restraint? No. In the Ad Check, the Dispatch is able to be conclusive about the President: “President Barack Obama falsely claimed in his final debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney last week that Romney never supported any kind of government aid to General Motors and Chrysler.”
Anyone else catch the subtle difference? According to the Dispatch, Obama “falsely claimed” while Romney “incorrectly stated.” But at least the Dispatch is reporting the story. We can’t find any mention of this from the Plain Dealer on cleveland.com or its sister site, Politifact Ohio (seems like a natural place for this, no?). Nor did we find anything from the Dayton Daily News.
With the campaigns slowed by the East Coast Storm, Ohio’s political reporters have a chance to catch up on this issue. We hope they start calling Romney out for this falsehood and reporting on the scale of Romney’s dishonesty, so that voters can see “without hesitation’” that Romney was not meant for Ohio.
Update [10-30-2012 @ 9:06]: The Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Board (H/T Commenter Camilo José Villa) took Romney to task. “Mitt Romney is desperate to convince Ohio voters that he’s the candidate most committed to the U.S. auto industry — no matter how much confusion he must sow to do it.” Wrote the Board. They conclude: “It won’t work. Ohio voters know who stepped up when the auto industry was at the abyss — and it wasn’t Romney.” The Plain Dealer also gets credit for printing an AP story fact-checking Romney’s ad with the headline, “New Romney ad misleads on auto bailout.”