The Washington Post has awarded The King of Bain four Pinnochios, much as it awarded four Pinnochios to a Romney SuperPAC ad which devastated Newt in Iowa. Romney’s response at the time basically was, who me?
The King of Bain is a mini-documentary created by a former Romney campaign advisor, the rights to which were purchased by a pro-Newt SuperPac.
Reading the WaPo fact check, though, it’s clear that while the film got some things wrong, other things were right or close enough as to be fair in a political race.
The key issue WaPo took with the film was timing.
For example, WaPo points out that the KB Toys deal did not close until late 2000 (December, to be precise), and that Romney left Bain in 1999. We need more of a chronology than that to declare the attack to be false; for example, what role did Romney play at Bain even after he “left”? I’ve heard varying accounts that he was on its management board until 2001-2003 (I can’t seem to pin it down precisely). If so, he would have had to approve the deal in 2000. Also, while the deal closed in December 2000, how much of the work, incuding initial approvals and deal structuring, was done while Romney was at Bain. So while the timing might indicate the inclusion of KB was a false attack, WaPo does not provide enough information to decide.
On a company called DDi, WaPo actually finds the account in the film mostly true, but takes issue with the profit number attributed to Bain, which it said unfairly failed to take into account that when Bain sold its stock it retained some equity interest which was lost when the company went into bankruptcy. Fair enough, maybe the film overstated Bain’s profits, but WaPo does not tell us by how much. WaPo also says the film fails to disclose that the company emerged from bankruptcy and is operating; again, fair enough but the statement in the film that the company went bankrupt still was true.
On Ampad, WaPo notes that other factors, such as an industry economic downturn, contributed to the company going under. (added) Ironically, pricing pressure from Staples was one of the factors. But WaPo does not dispute that Bain pulled tens of millions of dollars out of the company, and I guess we’ll never know how things might have turned out had the financing been handled differently; that hardly makes the financing a non-issue. There is a factual misstatement in this segment about Romney owning 15 homes; watching the film I viewed the person saying it as venting, but the film should not have included the number if it was not correct.
On the closure of the UniMac plant in Marianna, Fla., WaPo notes that the deal closed in 1998 under Romney, and that he left Bain a year later, but that the damage to the company did not take place for several years. None of the financing of the company during Romney’s tenure is discussed by WaPo, so it’s hard to know whether the failure was attributable to Bain. And again as to Romney, it’s hard to know how much involvement he would have had in the couple of years after he “left” Bain.
But if Romney is to claim credit for job creation at companies Bain successfully funded for the years after Romney left Bain, shouldn’t he receive at least some blame for job losses which stemmed, in whole or in part, from the way in which the deal was structured by Bain while he was there.
Additionally, the terms of Romney’s separation included Romney’s continued participation in some Bain deals. So Romney may have profited from the deals which WaPo says were post-Romney. It would be nice if the fact checker gave us all the facts.
The WaPo fact check leaves much to be desired. It does show that the King of Bain is a typical political advertisement, which takes some kernals of truth and twists them in a way to portray the target in an unflattering light. And in some instances, the facts are false.
Does King of Bain deserve 4 Pinnochios? No more or less so than this entire campaign season, which has seen a full-fledged effort to minimize Newt’s contributions to conservative successes in the 1990s and to paint him as mentally unstable.
Haunting music, audio clips taken out of context, overly dramatic effects are the norm. It would be easy, and true, to say that Romney started it all in Iowa, much as he started it all in 2008. Nonetheless, “he started it” can’t be the standard.
One thing to note. The 4 Pinnochio rating for King of Bain is receiving extensive coverage both in the mainstream media and the conservative media. How many of you heard of the 4 Pinnochio rating on the Romney SuperPAC ad until Newt mentioned it during a debate?
Update: Newt released a statement calling for the SuperPAC to remove any inaccurate portions or pull the film, and challenging Romney to do the same with his SuperPAC. Expect outrage in 3 … 2 … 1 … that Newt supposedly is illegally “coordinating” with the SuperPAC.