Politifact says Romney’s Ohio-Jeeps falsehood was the ‘lie of the year’

Every year, the fact-checking site “Politifact” chooses a “Lie of the Year.” This year’s “award” goes to Mitt Romney for a whopper he pushed in the late days of the campaign, in the key swing-state of Ohio, attempting to blame President Obama for selling Chrysler to Italians who were going to move Jeep manufacturing jobs from Ohio to China.

If you care to relive the details, here’s Politifact’s writeup, including a rating of “Pants on Fire” and the awarding of Lie of the Year.

Personally, I wish they would drop the award. U.S. political discourse is awash in various levels of falsehood, from mere spin to to the ever-popular half-truth to outright unmitigated and intentional mendacity. I very much appreciate what the whole journalistic fact-checking movement has added to the mix. And Politifact does very good work.

But the idea that of all the falsehoods in circulation, one of them surpasses all the other sufficiently to win a whopper of the year award is arbitrary and diminishes the rest of the exercise.

And what I really wish is that the electorate would send a message to all the candidates and campaigns that we value accuracy and honesty and will punish liars at the polls.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/12/2012 - 11:24 am.

    I think your wish may have come partially true this year

    I think the definitive rejection of the amendments and election outcome may well have reflected a rejection of dishonesty. In MN both amendments were riddled with dishonest propositions, unsubstantiated claims, and downright dishonesty. Likewise I think the Republicans in MN shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with the claim that they’d balanced the budget in any legitimate way. Their broken promise to focus like a laser on consensus issues blew up in their faces. I think Romney on a very basic level simply failed to gain the public trust for a variety of reasons. His campaign was simply at odds with his actual record in too many ways and his denial that he wanted to cut taxes combined with his failure to explain how he would make up the tax cuts just imploded. His campaign basically was: “trust me, I can do this”, but everyone knows he’s a liar and he got caught in a big way with his 47% remarks.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/12/2012 - 11:58 am.

    It was such an obvious lie.I

    It was such an obvious lie.

    I wondered what level of stupidity would persist in repeating a lie that would be so easily, loudly and rapidly refuted. What kind of campaign would do that?

    Perhaps a campaign that had more to lose if the media moved on from that point.

    Perhaps a media that had not really started to digest the fact that:


    ..Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million [ and perhaps up to 10 times more] from the [auto] bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

    (end quote)

    What better cover than to hide close to target?

    So, in addition to the profits made from the deal in Delphi stock, Delphi threw off union contracts, welshed on debts, eliminated pension agreements, moved the corporation registration from Michigan to the tax-free Jersey Islands that allows concealment for virtually all financial arrangements, investors with hidden tax returns that would show profits made from the deal— all difficult subjects for the Romney candidacy.

    So what better way to hide–next to a blazing falsehood that took up all of the media oxygen ?

    So, in my mind, the lie of the year might have been more an astute defensive strategy than anything else.




    In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

    As a result, the shares Singer and Romney bought for just 67 cents are today worth over $30, a 4,000% gain. Singer’s hedge fund made a profit of $1.27 billion and the Romney’s tens of millions.

    The UAW complaint calls for Romney to reveal exactly how much he made off Delphi — and continues to make. The Singer syndicate, once in control of Delphi, eliminated every single UAW job –25,000– and moved almost all auto parts production to Mexico and China where Delphi now employs 25,000 auto parts workers.


    (end quote)

    All being disclosed in late-October.

    It fits in the timeline when a big, shiny bauble was needed.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/13/2012 - 08:20 am.

      What kind of campaign would do that? A Karl Rove campaign,

      …whose namesake successfully held forth that it doesn’t matter what kind of idiotic nonsense you say to American voters, so long as you repeat it incessantly.

      After hearing something patently stupid a few dozen or a few hundred times, your average voter starts to think there is a groundswell going on, there must be something to it – otherwise why would it be repeated so much ?

      It worked in the Bush campaign. Rove promised all those big donors it would work again, but somehow, in spite of the fact it was a proven winner, the theory failed this time – not in every campaign, of course, but it failed significantly.

      I wonder what Rove is telling those big donors now ?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/13/2012 - 08:58 am.

        The claim by Romney was refuted almost instantly by conservative and liberal media sources, big business and labor–virtually everywhere, across the board. This is why it made the “lie of the year”.

        Look what issues would have been brought to the fore if the Romney/Delphi story had made it to the forefront if Romney hadn’t persisted in his late-October nonsense that was refuted day-after-day in all media sources:

        * “Blind trust” of Romney’s money headed by his big campaign contributor.

        * That fund manager makes huge return by “blackmailing” th USTreasury into bailing out Delphi (billions of dollars involved).

        * Delphi shuts down all US operations

        * Delphi eliminates thousands of union jobs

        * Delphi abandons retirement funding to federal pension guarantee funds (taxpayers)

        * Delphi corporate structure moves off-shore to avoid reporting requirements and taxes

        * Romney personally gains from US auto bailout funds, personally gains from money obtained by “blackmailing” the US Treasury, and personally benefits from the actions of a company that sheds US workers and obligations to US workers and moves all operations and structure off-shore.

        * The amount Romney profited from the deal remains hidden through the off-shore nature of the company and Romney’s refusal to disclose his tax records for the relevant period.

        All of these issue were the BIG issues that Romney had been trying to bury from the beginning of his campaign.

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 12/12/2012 - 12:23 pm.

    The politicians play the voters as stooges.

    Facts don’t mean anything to the GOP. When the CEO of Jeep said it wasn’t true that Jeep was going to be moved to China and then Romney doubled down by restating that it was moving only shows the disregard he had for voter intelligence. Politicians will say anything or do anything to get elected. The electorate showed they were paying attention and pushed Romney to the curb. Next up is the queen of no accomplishments and even fewer facts, Michele Bachmann.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 12/12/2012 - 12:38 pm.

    The moral of the story,

    in the eyes of Stuart Stevens, Romney advisor: It’s OK if it works,

    PolitiFact tried many times to reach Romney’s top staff but received no response. In a post-election panel discussion conducted with both campaigns at Harvard University, Romney’s team insisted the ad had worked, that it had reassured voters in key Ohio markets.

    “If you look in those markets, we did better in those markets for having run that,” Stevens said.

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