SOLANGE UWIMANA/Media Matters for America
In a July 19 article headlined, "Romney drives a truck through Obama's 'build that' remark," CNN.com reported on a new ad from the Mitt Romney campaign that attacked President Obama over his recent remarks about small businesses, without pointing out that the ad dishonestly edited Obama's comments to portray him as anti-business.
Furthermore, here's the way CNN described the Romney ad: " 'These Hands' [is] about an owner in charge of a family business who challenges Obama's claim that his family did not build their business on their own." Again, CNN did not inform readers that Obama made no such claim in his remarks.
In the Romney campaign ad, Obama is heard saying:
If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be 'cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something: If you've got a business, that -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted, however, a big chunk of Obama's words was removed from that excerpt, making it seem as if Obama said what he said there concurrently:
In the video, the speech is made to sound as if Obama continued straight from "let me tell you something" to "if you've got a business, you didn't build that." But here are the words that Obama said between those two sentences that were cut out (the missing sentences are in bold):Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that.
CNN reported none of this, instead sticking to the he said/she said style of journalism that has been so thoroughly criticized. CNN reported simply that the "dueling presidential candidates and their campaigns dispute each other's interpretation," adding:
To drive home their point, Obama's re-election team released a rebuttal video with more lines from the president's speech to provide context to nuggets Republicans keep repeating.
While the CNN article went on to provide the context excised from the Romney campaign ad, it reinforced Romney's dishonest point that "Obama is 'out of touch' with small businesses":
That didn't stop Romney from building on the narrative that Obama is "out of touch" with small businesses. He reiterated that message when he visited a family-owned business in the neighborhood of Roxbury just a few miles away from campaign headquarters.
In fact, Obama is not "out of touch" with small businesses and neither is he anti-business. Moreover, when Obama made his "build that" remarks, he was making the point that business owners do not achieve success in a vacuum, but that public infrastructure -- such as roads, schools, and fire departments -- create a community that supports businesses.
This is such "controversial" fare that even Romney himself has endorsed it: "There are a lot of people in government who help us," Romney said on July 18, "and allow us to have an economy that works and allow [entrepreneurs] and business leaders of various kinds to start businesses and create jobs. We all recognize that. That's an important thing."
As Think Progress reported, Romney also stated:
ROMNEY: I know that you recognize a lot of people help you in a business. Perhaps the banks, the investors. There is no question your mom and dad, your school teachers. The people that provide roads, the fire, the police. A lot of people help. But let me ask you this. Did you build your business? If you did, raise your hand. Take that Mr. President! This is what's happening in this country. These people are entrepreneurs.
But you won't hear that played on endless loops on Fox News. Instead what you'll get is the narrative that Obama is anti-business, a concoction dreamed into existence with the help of deceptive edits of Obama's comments. In fact, Fox News spent 42 segments and more than two hours of airtime pushing this manufactured controversy.
And now we've come full circle with Romney repeating the distortion with the full backing of Fox News. On Thursday, Sean Hannity even promoted the Romney campaign ad, with pollster Frank Luntz crowing, "I've been very critical of many of the ads, and that is one of the best ads that you have shown on this show since the beginning of the campaign."
Now that the echo chamber is working as intended with this even more blatant distortion of Obama's comments from the Romney campaign, CNN should be pointing out such dishonesty instead of promoting it.