Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
The Reuters Article Behind (Many Of) Those Priorites USA Action Commercials
A January Reuters article has become a playbook for Priorities USA Action Commericals
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 01:46 PM
In January, two Reuters reporters, Andy Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis published a piece about Bain’s takeover and subsequent management of GS Technologies – a steel mill in Kansas City. The piece is a long, nuanced piece of business journalism. The plant failed under Bain’s stewardship, but the piece points out that, overall, Bain has an excellent track record and that larger economic forces were at work in the plant's failure. It also points out that despite that failure, which was probably caused at least in part by the debt Bain loaded unto the company, Bain made $12 million on their $8 million dollar investment and at least $4.5 million in consulting fees.
Interest in Romney’s time at Bain made the piece notable when it was published (it was cited by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry) but it didn’t really start making its way in the world until Priorities USA Action (a SuperPac closely, really closely, aligned with President Obama) made it the backbone of a series of ads against Romney.
The piece also highlights the heartbreak of the steelworkers who lost their jobs. That's the part Priorities has seized on. The last paragraph introduces the world to Joe Soptic, the former steelworker who lost his job, then his wife, after the mill went under. Soptic’s story became the ‘Understands’ ad that has gotten much attention for suggesting that Bain’s actions led to the death of Soptic’s wife. (Brooke and Bob mocked ‘Understands’ in a recent Media Scrutiny Theatre.)
The Sullivan/Roumeliotis has actually been used as a source in at least three other Priorities ads. “Donnie,” “Heads or Tails,” and “Scrap Steel.” It probably goes without saying that the nuance in the article itself isn't found in those ads.
It’s easy to tell when Sullivan and Roumeliotis’s article is being used by an ad because a citation appears in roughly the same format as a positive review in a movie trailer. (You could call it transparency, but it helpfully suggests that Reuters approves the ad.) Here’s an example from “Understands.”
Here’s the “Donnie” ad – this one has just one named source, the Reuters article.
I talked with Sullivan about his work being used as opposition research. (He says the idea for the piece actually came from opposition research done by the 2008 McCain campaign).
Here’s that interview:
Another Sullivan article, this time on Obama failing to create as many green jobs as he'd promised he would, has also been used by Romney in ad: