The Fight Over Bain Capital

Friday, July 13, 2012

Transcript

This week saw both news organizations and the Romney presidential campaign arguing over the veracity of claims made by the Obama administration about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, the financial services company Romney co-founded. Political scientist and media critic Brendan Nyhan says that part of the problem is that the media has fallen down on the job in properly reporting this story.

Guests:

Brendan Nyhan

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [47]

Gilbertramirezpt

What I find interesting is that Romney filed papers with the SEC where he identified himself as the head of the company and he is denying that role. Did he falsely file? If he didn't then he is saying he was in charge. If he continues to deny he was in charge then how can he manage the presidency if he is in charge but denies it.

Jul. 22 2012 11:19 PM
Dan from LI

I need to pile on here. I'm a big OTM fan, but I was frankly disgusted with this story. You guys are better than this. I was struck by one phrase by your guest, that it was only "technically" true that Romney was the head of Bain during the time in question. Since when is "technically" true not true enough? What do we have, aside from Romney's word and that of his friends, to say he wasn't being updated on his vastly profitable business? That he didn't still have veto power over projects?

Jul. 19 2012 07:02 AM
Peter C from Katy, TX

My frustration with the segment was the acceptance of Brendan Nynan's frame that only someone with 'Day-to-day operational control' bore responsibility for a company's actions. I have no doubt that Romney did not have day-to-day operational control, but as SOLE OWNER and CEO, I think he can be held responsible for the company's strategy. The sole owner and ceo sets a company's direction by hiring managers who share his or her strategic vision. The recent interview with Ed Conard (on 'Up with Chris Hayes') shows that outsourcing was central to the Bain strategy.

In my view, 'day-to-day operational control' was a strawman argument that Bob should have recognized and challenged. Without challenging it, the segment devolved into the same sort of 'he-said, she-said' reporting that is one of the main flaws of political reporting these days. I expect more from On The Media.

Jul. 18 2012 11:19 AM

As a longtime listener and fan of the show, I hope that Bob will follow Mitt Romney's wise example and "retroactively retire" this woefully substandard piece.

-- MrJM

Jul. 17 2012 09:00 PM
Larry from California

For a much better way to look at Romney/Bain and the inconsistencies - read this piece from Forbes (of all places) - that lists 35 questions that should be answered by Romney. This is real journalism.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjwalker/2012/07/14/35-questions-mitt-romney-must-answer-about-bain-capital-before-the-issue-can-go-away/

Jul. 17 2012 05:17 PM
michael_carr from New York, New York

Brendan Nyhan has a long history of prevarication and obfuscation in perpetuating the construct of false equivalency, and I was shocked (shocked!) that On the Media would allow Mr Nyhan to pollute its programming with such an absurd story, and one that actually deals with the least offensive aspects of Mitt Romney's vile history in private equity. As has been mentioned here, outlets like Mother Jones magazine and Salon.com have adequately documented outsourcing that occurred at Bain under Romney's direction. And whether or not Romney and his defenders claim he wasn't an acting manager, the documents filed with the SEC absolutely are evidence. As Chairman, CEO, and President, he is legally on the record as the person in charge, whether or not he made the actual decisions. And even if you call the two-year period into question, which this doesn't, he still profited handsomely—$200,000 for each of the two years—for actions that followed his own template.

And no one has stepped forward to actually offer who really was in charge. And Romney hasn't even officially denied the accusations.

Giving Mr. Romney such a blatant pass by excoriating the Obama campaign is not only reprehensible... it is by nature the very definition of lazy journalism. This is something I would expect of Politico and CNN... not the likes of On the Media.

Jul. 17 2012 05:14 PM
Preston from Chicago, IL

Bob Garfield stated that whether or not Romney was in charge at Bain during the time in question "should be knowable."

If only there were some sort of sworn affidavit that the person or persons in charge of a company were required to file with the SEC. But until such a thing exists I guess it will remain unknown to the members of our esteemed media, and indeed to On The Media as well.

Jul. 17 2012 03:41 PM
Jake

OTM has failed this story in so many ways. Pulling Factcheck.org out of your pocket and using it as the end-word on the truth is blasphemous journalism. You pretend that the Obama ads are completely unjustifiable, while just the opposite is true. SEC documents have recently emerged that show Romney as the primary executive and owner of Bain. Does that make him responsible for the actions of Bain, even if he wasn't involved in the "day-to-day" management of the company? YES, it does! And I feel strongly that most Americans would agree.

The humor in all of this is completely lost, which is that, with all of the Bain-denials coming from the Romney camp, he casts his own corporate past into a shameful and negative light.

Jul. 17 2012 02:34 PM

Like so many other commenters, I was incredibly disappointed with this piece.

First, it treated FactCheck.org as if that site were the final arbiter of what is true and relevant, rather than as just another media outlet. Have you learned nothing from the earlier PolitiFact debacle? "Fact" being in the name doesn't make it right.

Second, it ignored that Romney himself has claimed to have had a leading role at Bain in the disputed years, when he was arguing for his eligibility to be governor of Massachusetts. Not to mention that he drew a salary during that time.

Jul. 17 2012 11:23 AM
David

One more thing. When the CEO of the USA, gives millions to GE for green jobs, and more than half of GE's workforce is overseas - some in those green jobs - is the President responsible? Of course.

This one's a draw. Let's move on.

Jul. 16 2012 09:50 PM
David

I hear a lot of disagreement with the report, and yet the facts - from business reporters - keep coming. From the NY Times today:

"Indeed, no evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds’ investments after he left, although his campaign has declined to say if he attended any meetings or had any other contact with Bain during the period. And financial disclosures filed with the Massachusetts ethics commission show that he drew at least $100,000 in 2001 from Bain Capital Inc. — effectively his own till — as a “former executive” and from other Bain entities as a passive general partner."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/us/politics/when-did-romney-step-back-from-bain-its-complicated.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Jul. 16 2012 08:42 PM
michael hammerschlag from Europe

Really disappointing profile of Romney's obvious lies. Either he's a master of the universe who managed Bain to it's heights, or he wasn't... when it actually was gutting and destroying companies. Nyhan is an embarrassment, and it isn't the first time his slanted views have been used for right wing purposes. This article by Robert Parry explains the whitewash attempt.

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/07/14/the-romney-fact-checking-scandal/

Jul. 16 2012 06:54 PM
David

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obamas-budget-director-bain-guy-married-bain-gal_648652.html

Jul. 16 2012 06:12 PM
Mike from Mulberry, Indiana

I was disappointed by OTM's take on this Romney / Bain controversy. I do understand that when you listen to Mr Romney explain things, he sets a standard for himself that seems to say that he is only responsible for things that he has personally said or done. This is all well and good. If he had was claiming to be a heroic figure based upon a great solitary effort we could accept this on face value. But, he is not claiming this. He is claiming to be a leader of men, a Titan of the corporate world. To this end he has cited the accomplishments of his company, Bain as if it were an extension of himself. His accomplishments are Bain's accomplishments and vise-versa. It was his company. His company made possible a large number of the successes he had. It is an important part of his life story.

Then in 1999 he apparently had a road to Damascus moment and accepted a call to help with Olympics. Contemporaneous accounts seem to indicate that neither he nor Bain were treating his separation as anything but temporary. He kept his title. He kept his stock. He kept his salary. He didn't name a successor nor even an acting president. To all the world, it was his company. Legally, it was still his company.

Given all of this, it is self serving fiction for Mr Romney to now claim that he is not in any way responsible for things that Bain did after February of 1999. He can claim (as he does) that he was not personally involved in the day to day running of Bain. But, it is not logical to allow this very limited denial of responsibility to be used as a shield that protects him from accepting any responsibility for the actions of Bain during this period.

As the owner and president of the company, he had any number of ways that he could have influenced the course that Bain took. The fact that there is a repeating pattern to the types of deals that he now finds objectionable supports the conclusion that he had no objections at the time.

Jul. 16 2012 05:22 PM

Is this On the Media's Factcheck.org moment? So willfully myopic and contrary to common sense that all credibility is lost? How can you present yourself as considerate and disinterested media critics while so abysmally failing to meet even the most cursory standard of care in your own reporting?

The irony of criticizing others for laziness while you yourself refuse to pursue and examine the facts is galling. And the inability to contextualize the story - why is this significant? - is shameful.

How will OTM redress this debacle?

Jul. 16 2012 02:06 PM
Grace

Wow - stunningly smug. What has happened to "public radio"? It seems that Progressives are no longer considered part of this country.

Jul. 16 2012 10:25 AM
Rick

Bob, you picked a bad week to bend over backwards to appear "fair."

Jul. 16 2012 10:00 AM
Jerry Order from Danville, California

The person who wrote "It seems the respondents are reacting based on their own political biases" has missed the points entirely. Bob should not have taken at face value the guest's contention that it is up to the Obama campaign to prove there is a smoking gun showing that Mr. Romney knew what was going on at Bain when, by everything that is holy in the realm of corporate governance, Mr. Romney WAS responsible by virtue of his positions and sole ownership capacities. Perhaps Bob should add the phone number for an external or internal auditor to his famous Rolodex. Love ya anyway, Bob.

Jul. 16 2012 03:15 AM
Gregory Slater from East Palo Alto, CA

$100 to anyone who can name a single legitimate American journalist working today.

Jul. 16 2012 02:20 AM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

It seems the respondents are reacting based on their own political biases.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report
http://stacyharris.com

Jul. 16 2012 12:57 AM
Larry from california

If Romney wasn't in charge at Bain 1999-2001, who was? Just give me a name please. After working in the corporate world for >35 years - I always knew who the CEO was - and who was in charge. I'm sure Romney does as well.

After Romney identifies "who" was in charge. Why wasn't that person listed on the SEC documents? I know since Ken Lay (Enron) didn't "know" what was in the falsified accounting documents that CEO's are personally responsible for what's in the SEC filings (falsify - you go to jail.) This is Sarbanes-Oxley and it's not retroactive to 1999 - but for heaven's sake.

Identify who was in charge. Was it a committee (I've seen this as well - but those people were identified to the SEC.)

Simple!

Jul. 15 2012 09:32 PM
Jerry Order from Danville, CA

I don't recall OTM doing a story on Mr. Romney's unproven claims regarding his "Job Creator in Chief" status at Bain. Is OTM accepting factcheck.org's position that it's up to the Obama camp to prove that Mr. Romney was "at the helm" of Bain to be responsible for its actions even though Mr. Romney 1) was the sole owner, 2)filed with the SEC that he was CEO, 3)drew a salary, 4)picked the management and 5)has never said that he disagreed with any of the Bain actions? The captain of the Costa Concordia wasn't at the helm either, but is he any less responsible? Or should the Obama campaign withdraw the previous ad and replace it with one that says that Mr. Romney owned a multi-million dollar company and left it behind without knowing what the hell was going on to accept an unpaid position to run the Olympics? Perhaps OTM should have a general discussion on what the criteria SHOULD be in evaluating campaign ads and hold ads to that standard.

Jul. 15 2012 07:30 PM
Goethe Behr from Kalamazoo, MI

The other day, Romney complained about Obama supporters who have criticized Bain Capital--at a time when Romney was (1) president, (2) ceo, and (3) sole owner. Romney's complaint is that Obama is responsible for the actions of the actions of people in his organization--without realizing that in saying that, he was justifying the criticisms of the Obama supporters, since HE should be held responsible for the actions of Bain when he was ultimately responsible for it.

Jul. 15 2012 07:13 PM

I'm usually a big admirer of the job that Bob Garfield and Brook Gladstone do, but this morning's treatment of Romney's responsibility for what Bain Capital did was terrible. Stressing whether Romney personally supervised particular outsourcing projects that Bain did is really . The Dartmouth prof. sounded like a lawyer, not a seeker of truth.

Anyone who has had any contact with a corporation knows that the CEO sets the policy; if Bain was teaching outsourcing and offshoring - they aren't much different - that's because the CEO wants it that way. Any underling who doesn't get with the program gets out. It's that simple.

Nitpicking about whether Romney personally oversaw every outsourcing project that Bain proposed was really silly. Why is Romney still collecting $20,000,000 from Bain every year?

Don't nit pick the words. Look at the big picture. Is there any evidence at all that Romney and Bain every promoted policies that added good jobs for American workers?

Anybody who believes he did probably also believes that Romney doesn't remember leading a physical attack on a schoolmate who might have been gay, and believes, as Romney said, that in the early sixties discriminating against gays was the last thing anybody ever thought of.

Jul. 15 2012 07:05 PM

I'm usually a big admirer of the job that Bob Garfield and Brook Gladstone do, but this morning's treatment of Romney's responsibility for what Bain Capital did was terrible. Stressing whether Romney personally supervised particular outsourcing projects that Bain did is really . The Dartmouth prof. sounded like a lawyer, not a seeker of truth.

Anyone who has had any contact with a corporation knows that the CEO sets the policy; if Bain was teaching outsourcing and offshoring - they aren't much different - that's because the CEO wants it that way. Any underling who doesn't get with the program gets out. It's that simple.

Nitpicking about whether Romney personally oversaw every outsourcing project that Bain proposed was really silly. Why is Romney still collecting $20,000,000 from Bain every year?

Don't nit pick the words. Look at the big picture. Is there any evidence at all that Romney and Bain every promoted policies that added good jobs for American workers?

Anybody who believes he did probably also believes that Romney doesn't remember leading a physical attack on a schoolmate who might have been gay, and believes, as Romney said, that in the early sixties discriminating against gays was the last thing anybody ever thought of.

Jul. 15 2012 06:51 PM
Jeff from Toronto, Canada

I'm a podcast listener who enjoyed this episode a lot -- but I thought your approach to it was a bit naive. I don't think it's about the facts. (As Homer Simpson says, "Facts! You can prove anything with facts!") I think this is more about interpretation.

Your interview subject alluded to this at one point. What responsibility does Romney hold for the actions of a company he founded, developed and led, even after he had let go of the primary leadership (leaving it in the hands of no doubt hand-picked successors), while remaining "President, CEO, Chairman of the Board and sole shareholder". I think even Pontius Pilate would have trouble washing all that off his hands.

Mind you, I'm not an MBA, I've never had a C-Suite job, never attended a Board meeting, so I appreciate that Romney and his defenders may be privy to a whole raft of subtle distinctions here, between "active management" and whatever the heck else Romney likes to feel he had going on.

What I like best about it, though, is that Romney was getting a salary after he claims to have handed over the helm to others. The amount of his pay -- $100,000 a year -- is I'm sure seen by Romney and his buds to prove his point. The obvious puniness of this sum demonstrates that he wasn't doing anything substantive for the company. It must drive him nuts to realize (if he does realize it) that the vast majority of Americans will interpret that sum in quite the opposite way -- if he was getting THAT much money, he must have been doing something really important for Bain!

One fact, two opposite and irreconcilable interpretations. What doesn't that tell you about the state of American society today?

Jul. 15 2012 06:20 PM
Cindy Sampson from Georgia

This Romney/Bain story seems to encapsulate perfectly a meme that we have become all too familiar with the past decade:

Corporate leaders (Wall St and beyond) want the huge checks & bonuses. BUT, they're suddenly MIA when there's responsibility to be meted out. It's the "heads I win, tails.....hey, I still win!!!" mentality that so infuriated America following the '07 meltdown.

Romney wanted the $100K/yr he kept getting after 1999 (+ all his equity) but suddenly he wasn't the man in charge when there's responsibility to be had.

I'll humbly suggest that America deserves better.

Jul. 15 2012 05:44 PM
Bill Ells from Denver, Colorado

Re: the Romney issue, I hope you'll add the two pieces of important context to a follow up:

First, Mitt Romney founded Bain Capital in 1983. He then built the firm, hiring most - if not all - of the senior partners (and by extension everyone below them). It is laugh-out-loud ludicrous for anyone to think that the actions the firm took from 1999-2002 were somehow disconnected from Romney. Even if he wasn't there day-to-day, his name was still over the doorway (SEC filings that HE signed say he was CEO & President). If a deal was being done (by lieutenants that HE HIRED) he could have vetoed it. To suggest anything else is ridiculous.

Second, just because the St Petersburg Times was prescient enough to register "FactCheck.org" does NOT necessarily make them impartial. It's convenient for those attempting to give Romney cover to cite that source but let's remember: neither the Globe nor the WaPost has retracted their stories.

Jul. 15 2012 05:26 PM
Anne

I have at comment about your segment on Mitt Romney's evolving statements about when he did or didn't leave Bain Capital. Whether he was involved in any day to day decision making after February, 1999 is immaterial. SEC filings state that he was still the sole owner of the company until at least 2002. As such, he is still accountable for the decisions made at Bain whether he made them himself or not. Additionally, your guest failed to point out that in 1998, Romney himself, made a deal with a Chinese firm whose sole business was to outsource American Manufacturing jobs to China. He made this investment through a shadowy front company in Bermuda, but he was the one investing in outsourcing American jobs.

I thought your reporting on this matter was incredibly biased and incomplete.

Jul. 15 2012 04:48 PM
manyamile from AZ

this Romney /Bain story is enormously biased in that, by insinuating 'the big boys' in the media are 'carrying the water for the Obama administration (LA TImes, for example) it is ignoring the elephant in the room, FOX news and 24 hour Talk Radio which are the Niagra Falls of spewing out false information. SO the Dartmouth prof guest is ignoring the forest for the trees. comes off as almost ridiculous, in face of the larger deluge.

Jul. 15 2012 03:16 PM

I am glad to see other listeners jumped on the coverage of this story.

While I agree in general with Nyhan's assertion that the political press covers all questions about a candidate's bona fides (or anything else) as just a part of the overall horse race. Fair enough!

However, the story and the ads about Romney and Bain do not qualify as some sort of unprincipled Obama team ad attack. These questions have been dogging Romney since he began running for office.

I have a problem with the tone of the interview with Nyhan but larger than that is the beef I have in OTM reporting this story even as it unfolds. Since Romney's media blitz to respond to the Bain "question" there have been interviews with several men who say they reported directly to Romney while he was "away" from Bain.

In perhaps my favorite defense of Romney so far in the campaign, Ed Gillespie has offered that Mitt Romney 'Retired Retroactively' From Bain Capital.

Are the Obama teams ads relevant and truthful? According to workers, Romney supporters and the SEC....relevant and true.

We await political reporters doing their friggin jobs to prove differently.

Jul. 15 2012 02:37 PM

I'm also a long time OTM fan and admirer who was appalled at the superficial coverage of the Bain issue. The Darmouth professor's argument hinges upon the veracity of the fact-checkers he cites. I think that veracity is very questionable and the, very atypical, failure of OTM to question is the source of my disappointment.

I happen to think that what Bain did is defensible in the historical context. Romney can and should defend the actions of his company. However he is, or rather should be, accountable.

Jul. 15 2012 12:22 PM
Gale Wiley from Austin, Tx

Last I heard, the person in charge of a submarine, a university, a restaurant, a machine shop, and yes, a company assumes ultimate responsibility for the actions of his or her organization. Whether Romney was actively involved in Bain is irrelevant. From the SEC's mandate and from any rational person's understanding of leadership, Romney is responsible for everything his company did.

Jul. 15 2012 10:28 AM
ThatwoodBTelling

This reminds me of the revelation that Ron Paul's newsletter ran some racist comments some years back, and the attempts by Paul to disavow any responsibility for them. He didn't actually edit the newsletter or write the articles, he said; he was basically only lending his name to it at that point. This may or may not have been the case, but his name *was* on the newsletter and, I believe, he was listed as publisher. As with being a publisher, so too with being a CEO comes responsibility. Romney's denials today make no more sense than Paul's did then.

Jul. 14 2012 11:03 PM
Elle Smith from Dedham MA

Mr. Garfield, I don't understand your apparent position, and that of Mr. Nyhan, regarding Obama's campaign and the Bain SEC filings. If someone files with the SEC that he is the sole owner and CEO, it's incumbent upon him to explain and prove that he was not in control, and Gov. Romney's statements over time were misleading.
And do you see Mr. Romney as someone who lets go of control easily? Even if he didn't exercise day to day control, what about one crucial phone call, say, twice a week? Or whatever. If I were the sole owner of such a business, I would not overnight disappear, even if I started doing something else.
Why dismiss the SEC filings so quickly, and turn them against the Obama campaign, instead of demanding a full accounting both of the filings and of the lack of disclosure by Mr. Romney?

Jul. 14 2012 10:58 PM

Evidently Brendan Nyhan is the name on OTM's rolodex that the producers go to when they are looking for a supposed liberal to do a hatchet job on his own side; his careless and lazy trashing of Michael Moore comes to mind.

So along comes Nyhan this week to fault many of the media, and the Obama campaign, for condemning Romney's role in Bain's outsourcing. Nyhan asserts that Romney had no part of this, even though legal documents bore his signature declaring him to be sole owner of Bain Capital. Romney pooh-poohs this as "legal mumbo-jumbo".

Romney either left Bain in 1999 or he didn’t. His signature on SEC documents as sole owner shows either that he didn’t leave, or that he signed while crossing his fingers. In my book, in signing any document, I assume full responsibility for what I signed. If I sign someone else's lease, I'm on the hook. If a vehicle I own is in a traffic violation, I am involved whether or not I am anywhere near the scene. If I own a company, I'm responsible for what it does.

Voters have a right to expect a President who is less casual with the truth than Romney appears to be over his time at Bain Capital, and less casual with his signature than he was at Bain, since he won’t be signing mere “legal mumbo-jumbo", but real Acts of Congress and real Executive Orders.

I used to be a regular listener of OTM, but when my local station changed its scheduling, I didn’t feel too inclined to seek it out too often. Hearing a worthless segment, in which Nyhan tied himself in knots protecting Romney from legitimate scrutiny, merely confirmed that indeed it wasn’t worth my while faithfully following OTM to a new time slot; it’s neither what it used to be, nor what it needs to be. Like most of the media it’s supposed to scrutinize, OTM is so scared of not being seen as even-handed that it leans over backwards not to point the finger at dissembling public figures. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Jul. 14 2012 10:27 PM
dave from san juan, puerto rico

What gets my goat here is the role of the CEO. With their salaries skyrocketing, we have been told by the likes of Romney and the rich that the CEO's oh-so-deserve-it because they are job-creators, engines-of-the-economy and giants amongst men really. But apparently, CEO dosen't mean squat according to Romney. You can legally be the CEO and not know what your company is doing at all. Why are they so well paid when they are apparently so useless?

Jul. 14 2012 07:21 PM
Warren Terra from Pasadena, CA

I'm a longtime fan of OTM, and a (laughably stingy) supporter of the podcast (under my real name). So I was not merely appalled but shocked by your segment on whether Romney has lied over when he left Bain Capital. Your slanted portrayal of the nature of the controversy and your selective use of the available evidence led you to fully endorse the insupportable line taken by the Romney campaign. Among the evidence and lines of argument that got insufficient attention in your segment, or that got no attention at all:
1) Romney received $100K per year from Bain for the performance of his executive duties; this is separate from the money he earned from his equity in the company.
2) To establish his eligibility to run for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney testified under oath that his sojourn in Utah was a temporary one, that he had remained involved in the management of Bain, and that he had served on the boards of three companies controlled by Bain.
3) Romney has said that he worked "for 25 years" at Bain. He started there in 1977.
4) In addition to the SEC filings that you did mention, Bain issued press releases saying that Romney continued to work part time as CEO of Bain while he was heading the Olympic committee.
5) Bain's explanation is that "for a time" they did not update their records appropriately. This is ludicrous when you consider this "time" must have been three years, and when you recall that Bain exists to transfer corporate ownership and install new executives, and yet somehow neglected for three years to do this in its own case.
6) The notion that Romney had indeed ceased to be CEO of Bain raises an obvious question: who replaced him? Where in the cutthroat, testosterone-poisoned world of high-powered Finance did they find someone who'd take the job without the title, without publicity, and without the reward of an equity stake (after all, Romney is described for these three years as "sole shareholder"), while his predecessor was still being paid?

You spend a lot of time in your segment pondering the question of whether Romney can be proven to have personally directed certain politically damaging investments, and you place the burden of proof for this allegation on the Obama campaign. But this framing implies that somehow for Bain to have made such investments would have been aberrant behavior, when in fact it was precisely the sort of financier-friendly, worker-destroying practice Bain had followed for years, and the sort of financier-friendly, customer-destroying practice that would crater the wider economy in 2008.

Furthermore, in focusing on the specific question of Romney's direct role in specific executive decisions you simply disregard a separate and wider question: Did Romney Lie When He Said He Left Bain In 1999? I submit to you that the evidence, much of which you ignored, is now overwhelming that he did, and that this is a story worthy of reconsideration and reassessment in your next program.

Jul. 14 2012 04:06 PM
Bob Gardner from Randolph, MA

Did Prof. Nyhan ever work in a pet shop selling parrots to John Cleese?

Jul. 14 2012 03:08 PM
John Mulligan from Providence, RI

The standard you all (including FactCheck) set for Romney critics is pretty ridiculous. Apparently, it won't be until a Bain (or Bain-controlled-company) employee goes on record to sell out his old boss, that we can finally know whether being a CEO is more like leaving a company, or running it.

Bob: "What's so frustrating about this is that these issues are not unknowable. Every company that was under control by Bain had employees who either were on the phone and in contact with Mitt Romney, or were not. There's lots of them! As far as I know, there's not a single reporter who's been able to locate these live human beings."

First off, the CEO doesn't have to pick up the phone to controlled companies in order to see his/her strategy enacted. So it wouldn't tell us anything if a reporter surveying these companies came up dry. Moreover, not all of those employees would want to own up to it if they had received such a call.

Second--and I think this is why Bob phrased his complaint the way he did--employees of Bain proper would be even less inclined to offer up damning testimony here.

Congratulations, NPR! You showed the world, once again, that you're not a left-wing outlet. Now Fox News will stop picking on you.

Jul. 14 2012 11:21 AM
Dan Kennedy from Boston

"A president and CEO of an organization is, as the titles imply, responsible for actions taken by the organization." Obviously, you're a liberal. :-)

Jul. 14 2012 10:22 AM
David

Much of the reporting that Nyham references can be found here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/do-bain-sec-documents-suggest-mitt-romney-is-a-criminal/2012/07/12/gJQAlyPpgW_blog.html

Jul. 14 2012 10:21 AM
Buck Foss from Jersey

I must agree that this wasn't done well - in fact, Mr. Nyham fell prey to the very ill he complains about - he didn't research his story.

It's amazingly easy to find Mr. Romney's own statements from his previous campaigns. In running for governor, he repeatedly and specifically stated that he had "retired" from Bain after 1999. How many "retirees" are listed as the sole shareholder and receive a salary? If so, Bain, please hire me so that I might retire and be paid more than I am today.

Shame on you OTM - you fell into the very trap you were "exposing".

Jul. 14 2012 07:20 AM
Richard Hanson from Fairfax, VA

All of this can be, in my view (formerly handled securities litigation) rather straight-forward.

A president and CEO of an organization is, as the titles imply, responsible for actions taken by the organization.

Representations made in forms filed with the United States are required, under penalty of 18 USC 1001 (penal code) to be not false representations. I don't know, but I do assume BAIN filed an annual report to the Securities & Exchange Commission (e.g., SEC 10(k)). News media tell me, and I believe Mr Romney has confirmed, that through 2002 he certified that he continued to be president, CEO, and sole owner.

No doubt he didn't participate in day-to-day BAIN operations while heading the Olympic Committee. Those titles, though, retained for him very significant legal responsibilities -- and I assume he took those responsibilities seriously. Similarly, I assume he was conscientious in his approvals and directions made for corporations for which he was a board member. (Major decisions are, of course, taken to boards of directors). Again, a legal -- and fiduciary -- responsibility.

None of this is trivial.

There are measures of the extent of Mr Romney's exercises of these responsibilities. One would be the reported income received for those responsibilities during 1999-2002 (or beyond, in cases involving management of companies as a board member). I don't assume that people are paid substantial amounts for doing nothing (e.g., "over $100,000").

Jul. 14 2012 06:41 AM

this wasn't too well done. sec documents are final, legal, material in an ultimate sense. sec documents are more "real" in a courtoom than spoken words at a press conference.romney signed them for bain capital. he is the sole shareholder. he made money or lost money from all events that were occurring at bain capital. there really isn't anymore to "dig up" or find out. romney's extreme testiness about the public rooting around the core to his identity - his money system - suggests a possible vulnerability. getting an extension on his 2011 tax returns during the final months of a presidential campaign and the media's failure to press on that matter is not good.

Jul. 14 2012 06:22 AM
posimosh

The Joe Alivo and Romney outsourcing stories were a bit cringe-worthy. OTM looked down their noses at other media outlets for lazy journalism, at one point even saying that "these things are knowable." Then go on to completely ignore the truthfulness of the story. Then summarily dismissed the tin foil hat wearing right wing blogosphere along with the often hyperbolic but largely more truthful and transparent left. For instance, go to the blaze, notice the lack of sources as well as the absolute lack of sources that point to anything verifiable. Now go to Salon, notice the abundance of sources, citations, and verifiable data behind the links that the author is reporting on.
OTM's main thesis relays inadequacy of the modern media. Basically, this boils down to two things. The first, the "he said, she said" style of journalism, followed closely by the second, lazy journalism. In order for OTM to be effective in criticizing these verifiable shortcomings of the US media, they cannot be guilty of doing these exact same things themselves. In both of these stories, OTM first commented on how the truth can be found, then restates both sides' argument without ever stating what the truth is or which side tends to be more empirically true. The job of the media is to filter and distribute facts while explaining them to the consumer. Instead OTM gave the impression that anyone who cares about political disputes is someone to be skeptically scoffed at. While giving the impression that all of the altruistic media and consumers should just skeptically laugh at both sides for being so passionate about both equally cynical sides. Instead, OTM needs to practice what they preach. Differentiate between the two. State the facts, not the arguments. Follow the funding, see what motivations one might have. Then again how can anyone trust a media outlet sponsored by something as disingenuous as "rep u tation dot com".

Jul. 13 2012 11:54 PM
listener

To add insult to injury are the reasons behind Romney leaving Bain in the first place. He took a pay cut and a career risk to devote three years to rescuing the scandalized and failing Winter Olympics which was destined to be an American embarrassment. The success of the international games also turned out to be profoundly meaningful and nationally inspiring since it came months after the 9/11 attacks when fear still gripped travel and large events in the United States. How did Obama's Olympic bid for Chicago go?

A better question is who was "wielding the levers of power" for the United States government in the last three years and how many jobs did he lose under his watch and at what cost? No wonder the Obama campaign desperately wants to change the subject while the cynical old political chicanery doesn't cut it anymore.

Jul. 13 2012 08:04 PM

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