Look Over There! CNN Barely Mentions Romney's Energy Policy; Hypes Bain Capital 'Distraction'

Instead of informing the public about Mitt Romney's energy plan unveiled on Thursday, CNN harped on a "distraction" in the form of Bain Capital documents released by the website Gawker.

Even an article on CNNMoney.com called the Bain files "worthless," and CNN reporters questioned the significance of the document dump, but correspondent Jim Acosta talked about it anyway on Thursday's The Situation Room, as a "headache" for Romney.

"[I]t's a headache that keeps coming back time and again for Mitt Romney," Acosta stated. "The Bain documents resurfaced as yet another distraction for Romney, who went to New Mexico to detail his new energy plan," he added.

Of course, CNN is choosing to put the Bain files in the spotlight instead of Romney's energy policy. "It's what the public needs to know," Acosta lamely explained.

Only this "headache" didn't seem to amount to much, as Acosta and Wolf Blitzer admitted after the report aired.

For instance, Acosta first said "The document dump includes financial statements that suggest some of the firm's offshore holdings are parked in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying U.S. taxes."

But after the report, he admitted that "Bain Capital being a private investment firm was trying to make money for its investors." He added that the Romneys' assets "are managed by a blind trust and that trustee is controlling where those funds are going, not the Romneys themselves."

Acosta also first reported that "Another Bain document seems to contradict Romney's attacks on the President's stimulus plan," before showing a letter from a Bain holder to its investors saying that "an expiration of stimulus would be a significant fiscal drag."

What Acosta ignored until Blitzer brought it up was that "with the Bain capital talk about the stimulus in 2010, he [Romney] was long gone." Acosta concurred that "He was long gone."

Yet CNN deemed all this nonsense more worthy of discussion than the energy policy of a presidential candidate. That might explain its horrific ratings.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 23 on The Situation Room at 4:15 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[4:15]

WOLF BLITZER: New potential headache for Mitt Romney only a few days before the Republican Convention. This one involving his former private investment firm, Bain Capital. Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is here in The Situation Room. You've been going through a lot of these documents. What are you finding out?

JIM ACOSTA: Wolf, it's a headache that keeps coming back time and again for Mitt Romney. No surprise, as soon as the story was up on the Gawker website, both campaigns started reviewing these newly released Bain documents. In the end they may only reinforce voters' opinions one way or the other about Romney's time at the firm.

(Video Clip)

ACOSTA: Just days before the start of the GOP convention, the website Gawker unleashed hundreds of pages of internal documents from Mitt Romney's former private investment firm, Bain Capital. The document dump includes financial statements that suggest some of the firm's offshore holdings are parked in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying U.S. taxes. This 2009 financial statement for Bain Capital fund ALP shows assets totaling $3.6 billion with investments in big-name companies, Burlington Coat Factory and Dunkin' brands.

According to the statement, the partnership intends to conduct its operations so that it will not be engaged in U.S. trade or business and therefore will not be subject to U.S. federal income or withholding tax on its income from U.S. sources. Under the current laws of the Cayman Islands, there are no income, estate, transfer, sales or other Cayman Islands taxes.

In response, the Romney campaign released a statement saying "Governor and Mrs. Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis. The investment decisions are made by a trustee. Furthermore, the trustee does not decide where funds he invests in are domiciled, the sponsors of the funds do."

CROWD: (chanting) Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

ACOSTA: Another Bain document seems to contradict Romney's attacks on the President's stimulus plan. This letter from the Bain holding Sankaty Advisors to its investors in 2010 warns with an economy that is still highly dependent on fiscal support, the outcome of the midterm elections could lead to gridlock that would have major ramifications. An expiration of stimulus would be a significant fiscal drag. Compare that to what Romney told a crowd in New Mexico.

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: The President's policies have not worked. Almost everything he's done has made it harder for this economy to recover, and as a result of that, middle income families across America are having hard times.

Former President BILL CLINTON (D): President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.

ACOSTA: To defend the President's handling of the economy, this new Obama campaign ad turns to Bill Clinton.

CLINTON: It only works if there is a strong middle class. That's what happened when I was president. We need to keep going with his plan.

ACOSTA: The Bain documents resurfaced as yet another distraction for Romney, who went to New Mexico to detail his new energy plan.

ROMNEY: I will set a national goal of America and North America, North American energy independence by 2020. North American energy independence by 2020. That means we produce all the energy we use in North America.

(End Video Clip)

ACOSTA: And not everybody is impressed with the Gawker story. One writer from Fortune magazine dubbed the website's exclusive as, quote, "tons of smoke without any fire." Wolf?

BLITZER: Because with the Bain capital talk about the stimulus in 2010, he was long gone.

ACOSTA: He was long gone.
 
BLITZER: Even by 2002, 2003 at the latest. Even though he left in 1999 to go work for the Olympics. So some of the current executives of Bain are actually Obama supporters, they're giving money to the Obama campaign, so we shouldn't necessarily be all that surprised that some of the comments from current Bain executives are complimentary to the Obama administration's positions.

ACOSTA: And lo and behold, Bain Capital being a private investment firm was trying to make money for its investors. Part of the way of doing that for a lot of these firms is to put money in the Cayman Islands. Mitt Romney was making money off of these investments, but as you heard from the campaign, they are saying – and they have said this before – keep in mind those funds, those assets for Mr. and Mrs. Romney are managed by a blind trust and that trustee is controlling where those funds are going, not the Romneys themselves.

BLITZER: Still interesting to review all those documents.

ACOSTA: It's what the public needs to know.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014