Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Washington Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler, is committing the same sin that has destroyed PolitiFact, and quite possibly FactCheck.org, as credible fact checkers -- he inserts his own subjective opinion to provide "context" to facts that either are or are not accurate. This blurring of facts into subjective opinion to produce a "questionable" call or even to produce the opposite of what the stated facts are has undermined fact checking of late.
As an aside, I believe this is the goal of the Romney campaign's "big lie" propaganda campaign. Their goal is to lie with such unrelenting frequency and impugnity that fact checkers are overwhelmed, thereby producing questionable fact checks that the public will disregard and in exasperation conclude that no one can be believed to tell the truth. And that is fertile ground upon which "big lie" propaganda can thrive. The Romney campaign is succeeding at its goal with help from media villagers like Kessler.
Glenn Kessler, who "in an earlier life covered Wall Street," has been a defender of the banksters of Wall Street and most recently of Willard "Mittens" Romney, putting him at odds with his own newspapers' investigative reporting on Romney's outsourcing/offshoring experience at Bain Capital. Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas. It is important to note that the Washington Post editors stood behind the reporting of its reporters, refusing the Romney campaign's request for a correction.
At the same time, Kessler is standing by his "fact check," recent revelations by other news organizations that uindermine his "fact check" be damned. "That's my story and I'm sticking to it," in effect.
In today's fact check column by Glenn Kessler, Do Bain Capital’s SEC documents suggest Mitt Romney is a criminal?, he states:
As we wrote yesterday, we are standing with our assessment that Mitt Romney left the helm of Bain Capital in 1999, when he departed to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The date is important because some questionable investments by Bain took place between 1999 and 2002, when he ran for governor.
Kessler dismisses the SEC documents discussed in the Boston Globe report as just "boilerplate": "much of the language saying Romney was 'sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president' was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time."
The point of Kessler's fact check is parsing between "operational control" and "legal" control. For Kessler, he finds that Romney was not engaged in making the day-to-day "operational control" decisions of Bain Capital or its managed companies during the 1999-2002 period reported by the Boston Globe. His conclusion is based almost entirely on statements from the Romney campaign and from Bain Capital, and the 2002 Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission report that certified that Romney could run for governor.
Kessler concedes that "The SEC documents, especially the ones Romney signed, do raise some questions. One can certainly argue that because Romney did not fully extricate himself from Bain till after his Olympic sojourn ended, he should bear some responsibility for what happened in that period." This would be Romney's "legal" control of Bain Capital and its managed companies.
Such parsing between "operational control" and "legal" control is irrelevant to an attorney. If I am going to sue Bain Capital or one of its managed companies, who am I going to name in the complaint? I am going to name Bain Capital and the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of the company, because that is who is legally liable. it does not matter one iota to me whether Romney turned over the "operational control" of the company to his business associates, his sons, or his secretary in the steno pool. He is the party that is accountable. This is how voters should view this also.
And am I really to believe that the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of the company had no influence or control over the company during these three years? That claim is simply not credible. Romney would have been grossly negligent to do so.
Kessler relies on the conclusions of the 2002 Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission report that certified that Romney could run for governor. But what I find far more probative evidence is the testimony of Mittens Romney reported by the Huffington Post. Old Romney Testimony Undermines Today's Bain Claims:
Romney's sworn testimony appears to back up the SEC filings and contradict his personal disclosure forms submitted to Massachusetts officials in 2002, in which he said that he retired from Bain on Feb. 11, 1999.
Romney's lawyer at the Massachusetts hearing said that Romney's work in the private sector continued "unabated" while he ran the Olympics: "He succeeded in that three-year period in restoring confidence in the Olympic Games, closing that disastrous deficit and staging one of the most successful Olympic Games ever to occur on U.S. soil. Now while all that was going on, very much in the public eye, what happened to his private and public ties to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? And the answer is they continued unabated just as they had."
Instead of leaving in 1999, Romney suggested in his testimony that he only left Bain after the Olympics in 2002: “I left on the basis of a leave of absence indicating that I, by virtue of that title, would return at the end of the Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital, but subsequently decided not to do so and entered into a departure agreement with my former partners. I use that in the colloquial sense, not legal sense, but my former partners."
The opening statement delivered by Romney's lawyer in the 2002 hearing said Romney "continued to serve on the board of directors of a significant Massachusetts company and to return here for most of its board meetings."
As the Huffington Post reporters correctly note:
[T]he purpose of the Ballot Law Commission inquiry was to determine Romney's residency, not whether he had done any part-time work on behalf of Bain. Indeed, in two days of testimony, the Democratic lawyer didn't question Romney about his role at Bain, as the issue wasn't a live one. That question only arose in recent years when Romney categorically denied any active involvement with Bain.
In addition, the Romney campaign's response does not address whether by sitting on LifeLike's board until 2001, Romney's 2011 disclosure form statement that he had "not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way" was false.
That last point is where Glenn Kessler concedes that there may be a "legal" issue:
Indeed, if someone wanted to make a criminal case, why quibble with ancient SEC documents? In 2011, Romney, as a presidential candidate, filed a public financial disclosure form, under pain of perjury, that stated:
“Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.”
You can see Romney’s signature, on the first page, in which he states: “I certify that statements I have made on this form and all attached schedules are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge.” If Romney lied on this form, that would be a felony.
Kessler concludes, however, "if the Obama campaign wants to put its money where its mouth is, it should immediately lodge a complaint about Romney’s financial disclosure form, filed just last year, rather than try to mislead people about potential violations in relatively unimportant SEC documents."
This is not a private legal dispute between Barack Obama and Mittens Romney, Mr. Kessler. Mittens Romney is a candidate for president of the United States. Legitimate questions have been raised by the media into his tenure at Bain Capital, which Romney himself has said is the foundation of his qualifications for the presidency and invited such media scrutiny. The burden of proof is on Willard "Mittens" Romney to answer the media's questions transparently and to be forthright with the American people. He has the burden of proof to come clean, and he has failed to do so.
I would point out that this story, so far, has centered around SEC documents, which are of limited value but are the only public records available to reporters. The crucial evidence, however, are the tax records of Mittens Romney and the tax records of Bain Capital and its managed companies. Those documents will show executive salaries and dividends paid by the corporate entitites, and executive salaries and dividends received by Mittens Romney. If those tax records were made public, one could cross-reference the information and put together a narrative of what Mittens Romney was doing between 1999-2002 when he was on a "leave of absence" from Bain Capital. And that is why Mittens Romney is refusing to produce his tax records, as his father George Romney did in 1968.
Mittens Romney produced 26 years of tax records for Sen. John McCain in 2008 when he was being vetted for vice president. If he can do it for John McCain, why can't he do it for the American people whom he wants to lead as president of the United States? What is Mittens hiding from the American people? We have the right to know the truth, or Mittens should step aside for another nominee.
UPDATE: Robert Parry takes a look at the so-called "independent" fact checkers in The Romney ‘Fact-Checking’ Scandal.