WTF, CNN? The "news" channel's Ashleigh Banfield today had Ben LaBolt from the Obama campaign on her show. She apparently decided that President Obama's ad about Mitt Romney's Bain Capital profiting off of the misery of bankrupt businesses and laid off workers was a little too potent for her corporate overlords to swallow. Watch:
Here are just a few of the baffling things from Banfield's questions:
First, Banfield astonishingly did not seem to know that she was hosting a political show, and kept complaining that LaBolt's response was nothing more than the official Obama campaign line. Uhh, lady! You put on the Press Secretary of a political campaign to answer questions about a political ad being run by that campaign. Were you under the impression that you were about to enter a confessional?
Second, she pointed out Washington Post's "fact-checker" rating on this ad, which is "one Pinocchio." That rating, explained Banfield, means that the ad being rated is "a big fat lie." Where did she come up with that from? Evidently, she pulled it out of various body parts. Because here is how Washington Post's Fact-Checker defines its "One Pinocchio" rating:
One PinocchioI don't know about you, but some of us would say "a big fat lie" and "no outright falsehoods" aren't exactly synonymous.
Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.
As for her own conjured accusation that the ad was a "big fat lie," let's get to the facts at hand quickly for a second. LaBolt set Banfield straight by pointing out that (a) loading the company up with debt was what led to the bankruptcy did happen while Mitt Romney was Bain Capital's CEO (something Banfield conceded) and (b) Mitt Romney still owned Bain Capital when the Kansas City company filed for bankruptcy, even though he wasn't CEO. As LaBolt restated his case later in an email to Buzzfeed,
Mitt Romney managed day to day operations at Bain when GST Steel was loaded up with debt, putting the company on a path to bankruptcy and causing 750 workers to lose their jobs, their health care benefits, and their full pensions. He was CEO and 100% owner of Bain when he went to Salt Lake City, and profits from its investments to this day.Banfield also quotes this one part of the Washington Post fact-checker analysis of the ad:
The biggest problem with this ad is that it takes a single data point — Bain’s investment in GS Industries — and tries to draw larger conclusions about Romney’s business practices and his values.For one thing, that's not correct. The ad doesn't take a single data point and extrapolate it to draw larger conclusions about Romney's business practices. It does the opposite. It uses this example to drive a fact-based narrative about Romney's typical business practices: finding ways to profit regardless of whether the businesses he invested in did the same.
But, I can see how the Post's fact-checkers would see it the other way. What Banfield does, though, is more than a little dishonest. In quoting the above part from the Post's story, she severs it from its context. Let's look at what the Post said immediately following that sentence:
The biggest problem with this ad is that it takes a single data point — Bain’s investment in GS Industries — and tries to draw larger conclusions about Romney’s business practices and his values. But Romney all but invited such scrutiny by claiming that his business experience taught him how to create jobs, when in fact his role was to generate a good return on his investments. Sometimes that worked out well for workers, but in the case of GSI, it did not. Usually, however, it seemed to work out well for Bain.That last sentence brings us to the last, but certainly not least, point. The thing that struck me the most about Banfield's banter is that she entirely skipped over this very important rule of investment and capitalism and constantly kept repeating the Republican propaganda point that "this is business" and Bain Capital had helped many other companies succeed. It was Bain Capital's business to be a vulture capital firm - they bought companies, loaded them up with debt, and walked away with hefty profits regardless of how the companies they invested in did. Just as profits for investors are justified when the company they invest in succeeds, so are losses to investors the proper thing to happen when a company they invest in goes south. Ms. Banfield, that's business. The problem with vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney's Bain is that they do not make money by making smart decisions for businesses they invest in. They make money by loading those businesses up with debt, whether or not that is the right thing for them to do.
This is the problem with our media. They are either in the pocket of big money or so caught up in the "both sides do it" narrative (come to think of it, this "both sides do it" narrative helps big money keep us distracted) that we have on-air hosts on the "most trusted name in news" that are flat out lying about fact-checking ratings, full-on distorting the truth about the record of Wall Street's favored candidate, and acting out disbelief at the fact that a campaign press secretary, invited to give the campaign's side of the story, ends up doing just that. Maybe CNN should invest a little less money in holograms and a little more in educating their on-air "talents."