Romney’s ‘Fact-Checker’ Cover-up

Exclusive: The “independent fact-checkers,” who have been shielding Mitt Romney from questions about Bain Capital’s off-shoring jobs and closing factories, are growing more isolated as the New York Times and other news outlets call for Romney to disclose more, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Mitt Romney is refusing to answer questions about contacts with his Bain Capital subordinates after he took a partial leave of absence in February 1999 to work on the Winter Olympics. Instead, he’s sticking to sweeping denials that he had any role in managing the company as it off-shored jobs and shuttered factories.

Increasingly, Romney’s defense relies on self-styled “independent fact-checkers,” Brooks Jackson at Annenberg Center’s and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, who have issued quarrelsome denunciations of President Barack Obama’s campaign for connecting Romney to Bain’s activities from 1999 to 2002.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waving to a crowd in Ohio. (Photo credit:

Yet, these “fact-checkers” acknowledge that they are operating with a limited body of facts, i.e. what has so far been made public. In an interview on MSNBC on Monday, Kessler admitted that he had no access to internal information at Bain Capital regarding how often Romney was in touch with his company in those three years.

In an e-mail, I asked Kessler if he would join in calling on Romney to provide more data and thus resolve the issue of exactly what his role was at Bain. Kessler agreed that “Romney could certainly clear this up by releasing more information,” but Kessler did not indicate that he would ask Romney to do so.

Instead, Kessler continued complaining that “the Obama campaign has not provided enough evidence to back up claims of Romney being personally involved in deals post-1999. The burden really is on them since they are making the charge.”

Kessler also said he is not responsible for how campaigns cite his work or that of other “fact-checkers.” Romney repeatedly has cited Kessler and as clearing him of allegations from the Obama campaign and now from a number of news organizations despite the long paper trail from Bain Capital (and Romney himself) reporting his continued Bain involvement during the three years in question.

To state the obvious, it seems like a contradiction in purpose for “independent fact-checkers” to allow themselves to become accomplices in a politician stonewalling the disclosure of facts that bear directly on his qualifications and integrity. At minimum, it would seem that Kessler and should suspend their denunciations of the Obama campaign until Romney and Bain clear up the many discrepancies.

On Monday, the New York Times tallied 142 times when Romney’s name appears on Bain’s securities regulation forms during the three-year period, many listing him as owner, chairman, chief executive officer and the controlling person. Talking Points Memo cited one such form that listed Romney’s “principal occupation” as “managing director” of Bain Capital Investors VI Inc., a private equity fund.

Romney also told the Boston Herald in 1999 that he would continue assisting Bain in decisions regarding investments and personnel. However, in TV interviews last Friday, Romney repeated his current mantra that he provided no such input. When pressed on exactly what contacts he actually had, he dodged the questions and referred back to the supportive stories by the two “independent fact-checkers.”

‘Retroactive’ Retirement?

On Sunday, Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, went on CNN to reiterate Romney’s position, but added a new twist by claiming that Romney had “retired retroactively” from Bain Capital two years after moving to Salt Lake City whatever that means.

Ever since he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002, Romney has sought to distance himself from the results of Bain Capital investments, including some that he engineered before his partial leave of absence in 1999. Some of those investments led to closed factories, painful layoffs and off-shoring of jobs to low-wage countries.

Instead of taking responsibility for those outcomes, Romney has insisted that a bright line existed between his 15 years of hands-on control of the private equity firm and the three years after he agreed to oversee the Winter Olympics games in Salt Lake City.

That attempt to convince voters that there was a “good” Bain Capital under Romney and a “bad” Bain Capital once he left has led to the current confusion and — as far as the Romney campaign is concerned — the helpful intervention of the two “independent fact-checkers.” But they acknowledge that they have no inside information about exactly what Romney was telling his subordinates during those years or how often he was in communication with them.

The “fact-checkers” simply have taken Romney at his word and taken Obama to task. Annenberg’s told the President’s campaign that it was “all wet” in its six-page defense of the Obama ads that blamed Romney for Bain-related layoffs and off-shoring. Kessler gave Obama and his campaign four “Pinocchios” (a total “whopper”) in one “fact-check” and three “Pinocchios” in a follow-up.

Those “fact-checking” reports, which read more like tendentious legal arguments from Romney’s lawyers than journalistic assessments, prompted Romney to flood the airwaves with attack ads citing those “independent fact-checkers” and calling President Obama a liar. Romney also demanded an “apology,” which Obama refused to give. [See’s “The Romney ‘Fact-Checking’ Scandal.”]

Demands for Answers

Though Brooks Jackson and Glenn Kessler have become heroes to the Romney campaign and its Republican backers, these “independent fact-checkers” have found themselves increasingly isolated within the journalistic community as more news outlets note the contradictory Bain filings and call for more disclosures by Romney’s camp.

On Monday, the New York Times published an editorial, entitled “Mitt Romney’s Complaints” with a sub-head, “He is not coming clean with voters and President Obama has nothing to apologize for.” The editorial states: “If Mr. Romney doesn’t want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin. Mr. Romney’s descriptions of when he left Bain have been erratic and self-serving.

“In 2002, when he needed to show he was still a Massachusetts resident, he denied he had quit in 1999, saying he had taken a leave of absence to run the Olympics committee. A series of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Committee show that Bain certainly didn’t describe him as absent after 1999.

“Mr. Romney has persistently refused to tell voters about his finances. Even now it is not clear how much money he has made from Bain in the 13 (or 10) years since he left the company. The right way to respond to Mr. Obama is to release his tax returns from that period, or open up Bain documents. But Mr. Romney told CNN he would not release more than the one year’s return he has already released and the one for 2011 when it is finished.”

If Annenberg’s Jackson and the Post’s Kessler want to show that they truly care about facts, they would join the New York Times and others in demanding more disclosures from Romney and they would be offended that he is using them to hide relevant information from the American voters.

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

15 comments for “Romney’s ‘Fact-Checker’ Cover-up

    July 19, 2012 at 06:44

    One of those nasty right-wing sites has the nerve to post this!!!!

    List Of Records Obama Refuses To Release

    Actual long-form birth certificate (NOT an easily-forged electronic copy of a short-form document that is not even officially accepted in Hawaii)

    Passport files

    University of Chicago Law School scholarly articles

    Harvard Law Review articles

    Harvard Law School records

    Columbia University records

    Columbia University senior thesis, “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament”

    Occidental College records, including financial aid that he may have received

    Punahou School records, where Mr. Obama attended from the fifth grade until he finished high school

    Noelani Elementary School records, where Barack Obama attended kindergarten (according to the Hawaii Department of Education, students must submit a birth certificate to register — but parents may bring a passport or student visa if the child is from a foreign country)

    Complete files and schedules of his years as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004

    Obama’s client list from during his time in private practice with the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Gallard

    Illinois State Bar Association records

    Baptism records

    Obama/Dunham marriage license

    Obama/Dunham divorce documents

    Soetoro/Dunham marriage license

    Soetero/Dunham Adoption records

    • John B
      July 23, 2012 at 11:21

      And yet we aren’t entitled to know if Mitt paid taxes and he isn’t required to address the obvious inconsistencies in his Bain record.

      Hypocrisy, thy name is Conservative.

  2. July 18, 2012 at 21:07

    Mittwit “Mr. 1% Multi-millionaire Moron, uh, Mormon” Romney is a compulsive liar, and he learned this behavior from Mormonism’s founder: Joseph Smith, a delusional cult leader who was guilty of being a fraud, a charlatan, a polygamist, a thief, a murderer, and a compulsive liar. The Book of Mormon does not contain the Ten Commandments of the Bible; Romney does not have any concept that he is constantly “bearing false witness” when he lies as often as he does, and he does not believe that his explicit deception is a sin.
    Paul Haider, Chicago

  3. Revo
    July 17, 2012 at 12:16

    He is another crook Republican.
    Ostensibly, for him closing factories, tossing innocent workers on the street in droves is job creating. He has already said that was not concern about the poor.
    One of his own fellow Republicans, I believe it was Bachmann, referred to him as next to evil. I am afraid he is more than that.

  4. Kenny Fowler
    July 16, 2012 at 20:09

    “On Sunday, Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, went on CNN to reiterate Romney’s position, but added a new twist by claiming that Romney had “retired retroactively” from Bain Capital two years after moving to Salt Lake City – whatever that means.”

    What? That’s ridiculous. Retroactive retirement, is he in the NFL? Mittens is trying hard to run away from his past but that’s not going to work. Wait till somebody gets ahold of those e-mails and starts posting them on the internet. We’ll make popcorn, it’ll be fun.

  5. thomachuck
    July 16, 2012 at 19:53

    Too bad the fact checkers are getting egg on their faces over this, but even the appearance of partisanship among the two cited is pretty much the kiss of death for their credibility in any other matter they examine as well. I remember the Republicans hounded Obama mercilessly over his country of origin, his religion and his citizenship. Hounding the Republican candidate over failing to release required employment and tax records, by comparison, doesn’t sound that nasty, now, does it?

  6. John
    July 16, 2012 at 18:14

    There are two management concepts that need be considered: authority and responsibility. A manager can delegate authority, which Romney did and that supports his reasoning that he was not involved in the day to day operations of Bain.
    But when looking at responsibility, that CANNOT be delegated. Romney was still the person responsible, either explicitly or tacitly, for all actions taken by Bain while he was the CEO.
    Much distraction is being created by Romney and hos surrogates concentrating on who was performing the day to day operations and purposely avoiding the issue of who was responsible.
    The fact checkers are also avoiding this issue. It would appear that they have never taken Management 101 prior to their writing about this.
    Bottom line, until Romney was officially removed as Bain CEO, he has to accept responsibility for its actions.

  7. Gary
    July 16, 2012 at 15:42


  8. Dan
    July 16, 2012 at 15:13

    I’m just waiting for the the first use of “Baingate” to rear its ugly head.

  9. roednielsen
    July 16, 2012 at 14:59

    The facts are in the documents – 142 documents filed by Bain. Romney just has a lame excuse – that he was not in charge, even if the document evidence says otherwise, even if he was paid a salary during the time in question. When he retired “retroactively”, did he also refund the salary from that period? What was the salary anyway? We know (again from documents) that he was paid in excess of $100K annually. We just don’t know how much in excess – and he didn’t perform any work during that time? So, who was in charge of Bain during those years, the janitor?

    Yes, we have plenty of facts, but the continuing misstatements by Romney’s campaign cause additional questions to come up.

  10. willie Lohmannb
    July 16, 2012 at 14:44

    Obama doesn’t have access to this information either. Neither to do you. Opinionuendo by you is not different that what you are castigating the fact checkers. When you have facts, please let me know.

    • ilse
      July 16, 2012 at 15:44

      “He is not coming clean with voters and President Obama has nothing to apologize for.”

      All the Romney needs to do is come clean. End of story.
      (Why doesn’t he show his tax returns? Because he is lying, as usual.)

      P.S. No use trolling here.

    • CC
      July 18, 2012 at 21:13

      The fact is there are few or no facts and that should be cause for voter concern. Just be open and clear up the mess or take the lumps for fudging the truth. Either way it would give cause for more support from voters.

Comments are closed.