Romney Directs Media to Obama’s ‘Redistribution’ Plea, But Only NBC Bites

Mitt Romney on Wednesday put into play newly uncovered video of Barack Obama in 1998 advocating redistribution of wealth, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts, only the NBC Nightly News bothered to inform viewers of the display of Obama’s far-left economic philosophy. And that only came inside the newscast’s first of two stories on media-fueled fallout from Romney’s observation that 47 percent don’t pay income taxes.

“These are tough days for the Romney campaign,” NBC anchor Brian Williams led his program, declaring: “Inside 50 days to go now until the election, and they are dealing with something of a public relations disaster.”

Like NBC, ABC’s World News, for the second night in a row, led with the surreptitiously-recorded remarks by Romney publicized by a left-wing magazine, devoting five and a half minutes to that and campaign news without finding a moment for Obama’s embarrassing video.

The CBS Evening News began with polls showing Obama ahead in three swing states (Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado), before anchor Scott Pelley discussed with John Dickerson the Romney comments and Peggy Noonan’s criticism: “It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one.” In total, CBS allocated six minutes to the campaign without mentioning Obama’s “redistribution” proclamation.

Back to the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell relayed: “The Romney campaign fought back furiously today, trying to change the subject from Mitt Romney’s comments caught on tape to a 14-year-old remark by a then-state senator Barack Obama. In Atlanta today, Mitt Romney tore into the President, accusing him of wanting to redistribute the wealth, based on a comment he made when he was a state senator.”

She characterized Obama’s comments as “about making government more efficient.” Obama in 1998:

I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources, and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.

Tuesday night: “Yes, But: NBC and CBS Try to Undermine Romney’s Accurate Observation 47% Escape Income Tax

From the Wednesday, September 19 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. These are tough days for the Romney campaign. Inside 50 days to go now until the election, and they are dealing with something of a public relations disaster. Video of the candidate speaking in an unvarnished way to supporters at what he thought was a private fundraiser. They’ve still got a lot of explaining to do, and while they tried a new route of attack on the President today, Mitt Romney’s biggest problem was members of his own party, Republicans in politics who are desperately worried about the damage here. It’s where we begin our coverage again tonight with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in Washington. Andrea, good evening.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. The Romney campaign fought back furiously today, trying to change the subject from Mitt Romney’s comments caught on tape to a 14-year-old remark by a then-state senator Barack Obama. In Atlanta today, Mitt Romney tore into the President, accusing him of wanting to redistribute the wealth, based on a comment he made when he was a state senator.

MITT ROMNEY: Just a tape came out a couple of days ago with the President saying, yes, he believes in redistribution. I don’t. I believe the way to lift people and to help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others, but to create wealth for all of us

MITCHELL: Romney is talking about comments then-state senator Obama made 14 years ago about making government more efficient.

BARACK OBAMA: I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources, and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.

MITCHELL: Similar to what Obama said in 2008 to Joe the Plumber.

OBAMA, IN 2008: -because my attitude is, if the economy is good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. And I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody. But, listen, I respect what you do, and I respect your question.

MITCHELL: Today, the Obama campaign dismissed the redistribution attacks.

BEN LABOLT, OBAMA CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: -so if you want to talk about redistribution, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan would redistribute wealth from middle class families to the wealthiest Americans.

MITCHELL: Romney’s counterattack comes as he’s taking fire even from Republicans for comments to wealthy donors in May, caught on a hidden camera, seeming to write off Americans who don’t pay income taxes, largely the working poor and the elderly. Republicans in tough races, like Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, said, “As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.” Connecticut Republican Senate hopeful Linda McMahon said: “I disagree with Governor Romney’s insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care.”

In a column for USA Today, Romney defended his remarks, writing: “Instead of creating a web of dependency, I will pursue policies that grow our economy and lift Americans out of poverty.” Democrats, though, have already launched TV ads re-playing clips from that hidden camera tape in six battleground states.

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