The Boston Globe Refuses to Run Correction on Mitt Romney Bain Capital Story (UPDATED)
Earlier today we ran THIS POST about a Boston Globe story reporting that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital three years longer than he had been saying. The Romney campaign had asked for a correction. The newspaper has now refused. Here’s the Globe’s response, via Politico:
Dear Ms. Gitcho:
We received your request late this afternoon for a correction regarding this morning’s Globe story. Having carefully reviewed that request, we see no basis for publishing a correction. The Globe story was entirely accurate.
The Globe story was based on government documents filed by Bain Capital itself. Those described Governor Romney as remaining at the helm of Bain Capital as its “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” until 2002. The story also cited state financial disclosure forms filed by Romney that showed he earned income as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.
The Globe story accurately described the contents of those documents.
The Globe story also gave a full account of the Romney campaign’s position that, notwithstanding several years of regulatory filings, Mitt Romney “retired from Bain Capital in 1999 … (and) has had no involvement in the management or investment activities of Bain Capital, or with any of its portfolio companies, since that time.” In your correction request, you reiterate points that are fully detailed in the Globe story.
Editor, The Boston Globe
Here, via the Washington Post, is the Romney campaign’s demand for a a correction:
Dear Mr. Baron,
Today’s news report in the Boston Globe regarding Mitt Romney’s departure from Bain was a re-hash of old allegations that first appeared in other publications and which have been found to be false by independent fact checking organizations. They also conflict with the reporting of the Globe[’s] own staff in the book published last year by the Boston Globe, The Real Romney.
Mitt Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics in February of 1999. Your article on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain asserts that Mitt Romney remained “at the helm” of Bain Capital beyond his retirement from the firm in February of 1999. This is inaccurate. Bain Capital after this time was managed by the other partners in the firm, as was detailed in The Real Romney.
As we provided to the Globe, while Mitt Romney continued to be listed on filings as the ownership of the firm changed hands, he was involved in no management or investment decisions during this period. This has been detailed in disclosure forms which said: “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.”
This has also been confirmed by Bain Capital which has stated: “Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure. Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney’s departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period.”
This has also been confirmed today by Fortune Magazine, which reported on contemporaneous Bain documents of this period that “list 18 managers of the private equity fund. Mitt Romney is not among them.”
Despite all of the facts provided and previous reporting on this, your article led readers to believe that Mitt Romney was managing Bain Capital at this time when he in fact was not, and for that reason, we are asking that you issue a correction.
Romney for President
Anyone who has worked in the mainstream media or who works in it will tell you this:
Newspapers run corrections all the time when they discover a reporting or editing error. It is a fact of journalistic life. They run the correction when they discover there in fact an error.
When a newspaper refuses, it means they feel there in fact is no error and/or that the person or group demanding the error is wrong or has some other reason to demand the error. They also realize that by refusing to fix an error they could leave themselves open to legal action. Which is one reason why newspapers will fix errors.
The Globe’s response makes it clear that they feel there is no error here and they stand by their story and are ready to do so in a court of law.
If the Romney campaign leaves it there and does not take legal action, then that will be construed by many (including anyone who ever worked on a newspaper) that there was in fact no error in the story.
Prediction: Don’t look for legal action.
Look for this story to have “legs” — and expand.
If I had to guess, I’d say that when Romney took the Winter Olympics job he hadn’t made up his mind to leave Bain. So basically he took a leave, keeping his ownership and his titles so that he could return later. As for his intentions during his Olympics tenure, who knows? Maybe he planned to keep his finger in the Bain pie but ended up not having the time. Maybe he planned to stay semi-involved. It’s impossible to say.
But look: it doesn’t matter. SEC documents show that he was CEO and owner of the firm between 1999 and 2002. In a political context, there’s just no way to weasel your way around that, and Romney is going to look increasingly weaselly if he tries. Your average Joe sees a multi-gazillionaire trying to claim that he was only technically CEO and isn’t responsible for what happened during his technical CEO-ship. That’s like a Mafia don taking the Fifth. It’s not going to fly, especially from a guy who’s constantly yammering away about personal responsibility and accountability.
So Romney has a problem, and he’d better figure out a better way of dealing with it than releasing increasingly tortured explanations of the definition of “CEO.” Voters want a president who takes responsibility, not one who tries to blame other people when something goes wrong.
I’m envisioning Mitt Romney, in 2017, claiming the treaty he signed with China in 2014 doesn’t really count because he wasn’t really acting as President when he signed it, in spite of his legal status as President…
…The thing is, as damning as this revelation may prove to be for Mitt, it is in fact quite unsurprising that a man can run for President on a resumé for which–his advisors say, behind the veil of anonymity–he can simultaneously claim credit but no responsibility.
That’s the way this country increasingly works. Even–perhaps especially–the Presidency.
UPDATE: The Politico puts this story into perspective and says GOPers are worried. It’s no longer a case of facts — but of a growing narrative:
On the facts, nothing terribly new was added to the Bain equation by the Boston Globe story charging that Mitt Romney controlled the company for three years longer than he previously claimed. Several fact-checking organizations said the charges aren’t exactly breaking news and Romney’s denials have some validity.
The problem for the Romney campaign, when it comes to the Bain issue, is that things are reaching the point where the facts don’t really matter. The bigger problem is that the Bain cloud now hanging over the former Massachusetts governor is growing daily, and the Romney campaign still hasn’t found a compelling way to respond to what’s becoming the driving narrative, fairly or unfairly, of the 2012 campaign.
After the Globe reported that Romney formally led Bain longer than he’d previously acknowledged — an allegation that Team Romney adamantly contests — Republicans worried that their soon-to-be nominee hasn’t sufficiently answered numerous questions swirling around his Bain tenure.
The Politico reports that Team Romney doesn’t seem terribly worried.
On the other hand, a typical Matt Drudge political scoop — TMV has been BURNED before by reporting them so you won’t see many details here — about Condi Rice being on the short list for Romney Veep is increasingly seen by some as a way to try to shift the news cycle. (Don’t bet on Rice to be Romney’s V.P. — and if she is she has zero national political experience and could evolve into a well-educated Sarah Palin in terms of stumbles on the stump. Here’s a bit of Red State’s Eric Erickson: “But hey, this is a great way to get the conversation moving past the Bain Capital nonsense the Obama camp is pushing and get the focus back on Romney for his veep pick. Well played in that regard. But really, we’re going to buy these rumors? Few saw Sarah Palin coming. Many have speculated on Condi Rice, which I think makes it less likely. I don’t even think this is a serious leak from Team Romney. It’s just silly.” Not well played: I don’t see the mainstream media leaping on the Drudge original report — probably because some of Drudge’s original post-Monica reports proved to be political plant stories that didn’t pan out and simply vanished from the site, with no acknowledgement that they did not happen.). MORE:
The campaign released its first television ad responding to the claims that Romney outsourced jobs on Thursday morning, which pointed to fact-checking reports and used a four-year old video of Hillary Clinton admonishing Obama during the primary.
Fortune published a story on Thursday afternoon detailing confidential reports from Bain that were “obtained” by the magazine and countered the Globe’s timeline.
But Republicans warned that none of that would make Bain go away as a political issue.
“Mitt Romney had an opportunity to answer these questions during the primary,” said Rick Tyler, who ran the pro-Gingrich super PAC that spent millions attacking Romney on the Bain issue. “ He did not answer these questions and now they’re coming up again.”
Tyler warned that the newest Bain twist has the potential to inflict real harm if Romney doesn’t start providing answers.
“I saw Andrea Saul’s robotic response, which was the same as it’s always been,” Tyler said, referring to Romney’s press secretary. “That doesn’t comport with documents that have his name on it after 1999 that list him as CEO who was making money off of transactions. If he wasn’t making money from Bain, then his tax returns from the period in question would reveal that.”
Tyler said Romney needs to be frank and provide all the details necessary to explain his role in the company after 1999. He hypothesized that there could be more documents to come.
“Only [Romney] can provide that information,” Tyler said. “Or we’ll just have drip, drip, drip to November.”
“He needs to get way out in front of it, explain it with detail No. 1 to 100,” said former Mike Huckabee manager Chip Saltsman.
“It festers, because in today’s world an attack that doesn’t have a response, no matter how ridiculous it starts to sound, people will start to believe it,” Saltsman said.
Democrats are weaving the latest Bain news into an overall narrative of wealth and secrecy that they hope will be simply unpalatable to voters, tying it together with Romney refusing to release his tax returns and ads hitting him for setting up offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on Thursday called Romney the “most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon.”
It’s puzzling that Team Romney hasn’t learned by now:
The drip-drip-drip can become a tsunami in the end. It’s better to try and halt the narrative, put it to rest once and for all.
Media stories take on lives of their own.
And this one already has.