Romney’s ‘Corporations Are People’ Called a ‘Gaffe’ as Nets Disguise Agenda of Leftist Hecklers in Iowa

ABC’s Jake Tapper on Thursday night scolded Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a “gaffe” over his assertion that “corporations are people” since “everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people.”

That common sense observation came in reaction to a bunch of hecklers, from a left-wing activist group, who confronted Romney in Iowa, yet neither ABC or CBS acknowledged their agenda. The CBS Evening News, in fact, put “Voter Anger” on screen over one of the screaming leftists as anchor Scott Pelley declared “voters are angry about the economy.”

(On FNC’s Special Report, Carl Cameron noted Romney was “badgered, at the state fair, by a Democratic group, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement...” Even NBC’s Chuck Todd, on the NBC Nightly News, reported Romney was “challenged on taxes by a group of Democratic activists.”)

Previewing the then-upcoming GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, ABC’s Tapper asserted: “Romney’s detractors call him insincere and note his propensity to gaffe as happened today when he said corporations are people.”

CBS teased its newscast with a clip of Romney saying “corporations are people, my friend,” before Pelley painted the hecklers as average citizens: “Voters are angry about the economy. Norah O'Donnell is with the Republican candidates as they get an earful in Iowa.”

A Des Moines Register blog post, “Activist group vows to heckle others the way it did Romney,” identified the man CBS’s opening teaser showcased as a typical voter:

The main heckler was Joe Fagan, 71, of Des Moines, who is a former Catholic priest and a retired activist for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Asked if he’d gone to the fair intending to aggressively question Romney, Fagan replied: “You’re damn right I went out there to do that.”

Fagan said both political parties are engaging in “garbage talk” about Social Security and Medicare cuts, which he said would add terrible burdens on middle-class and lower-class Americans. He made no apologies for the angry edge to his questions. “You know what? The tone of what they’re talking about doing is more important than the tone of my voice.”

O’Donnell subsequently failed to identify the agenda: “At the Iowa State Fair today, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faced a feisty crowd, including some hecklers. He was asked how he would save Social Security and Medicare and if wealthy Americans or corporations should pay more taxes.”


From the Thursday, August 11 ABC World News:

JAKE TAPPER: ...Grilling pork loin this morning at the Iowa State Fair, the front-runner, Mitt Romney. After keeping a low profile for months, he's now jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. The former Massachusetts Governor is, in these trying economic times, emphasizing his time as head of an investment firm.

MITT ROMNEY: I didn't inhale politics. I'm still a business guy and a private citizen.

TAPPER: Romney’s detractors call him insincere and note his propensity to gaffe as happened today when he said corporations are people.

ROMNEY, AT IOWA STATE FAIR: One is we could raise taxes on people-

CROWD: Corporation, corporations, corporations.

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

MAN’S VOICE: No they're not.
                                   
ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people.
                   
TAPPER: And there's the upstart, in first place here in Iowa, in one poll, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, beloved by conservative Christians and Tea Party activists for her strong stand against new government spending and taxes, though Republican Party insiders worry that she may potentially alienate swing voters....

From the CBS Evening News:

NORAH O’DONNELL: It is a big week here in Iowa. All of the declared eight Republican candidates are here to compete in this weekend's Iowa straw poll, but they're all about to be overshadowed by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

MITT ROMNEY, TO CROWD: Hold on a second and I'll let you speak.

O’DONNELL: At the Iowa State Fair today, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faced a feisty crowd, including some hecklers. He was asked how he would save Social Security and Medicare and if wealthy Americans or corporations should pay more taxes.

MITT ROMNEY: Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.

AUDIO OF CROWD LAUGHTER

ROMNEY: Where do you think it goes?

CROWD, YELLING: In their pocket! In their pocket!

ROMNEY, OVER YELLING CROWD: Whose pockets? People's pockets. Okay, human beings, my friend.

O’DONNELL: Romney is the perceived Republican front-runner. But when we caught up with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, he said he was better qualified....

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center