Pants on Fire? Despite Media Outcry, Romney's 'Lie of the Year' Was True

It turns out that the Romney campaign was right to claim that Fiat, who owns Chrysler, would be making Jeeps in China instead of America, even though the media disparaged that case at the time with PolitiFact going so far as to declare the ad "Lie of the Year." According to PolitiFact, the campaign falsely implied the jobs would be outsourced, among other claims.

As Reuters reported yesterday, "Fiat (FIA.MI) and its U.S. unit Chrysler expect to roll out at least 100,000 Jeeps in China when production starts in 2014 as they seek to catch up with rivals in the world's biggest car market."

As the Weekly Standard put it, "Romney's ad never said Jeep was 'outsourcing' existing jobs. Again, a fair reading of the ad would be that it implied that Jeep was choosing to create new jobs overseas rather than in the U.S."

What did the media say about the ad after it came out? ABC's Jake Tapper, reporting on the November 3 edition of Good Morning America, said President Obama visited "small towns in Buckeye battleground, Ohio. And in all of them, he went after Mitt Romney for a TV ad here that falsely suggests local Jeep jobs are headed to China, which the company denies."

Reporting on PolitiFact selecting the campaign ad for "Lie of the Year," CNN's Ali Velshi labeled the ad a "bald-faced lie" and added that "What's clear is he [Romney] tried to deceive Ohioans and it backfired. And without Ohio, Mitt Romney lost possibly his best chance at the White House. The lie of the year may have cost Romney the election."

On NBC's Today on November 6, co-host Matt Lauer went after Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie for the Jeep ads:

"The reaction was swift and unanimous, Ed. They were painted as misleading by independent fact-checkers. Ohio newspapers said they were an exercise in deception, a masterpiece of misdirection, and Chrysler and GM called them inaccurate and campaign politics at its cynical worst."

As NewsBusters' Kyle Drennen reported:

"Lauer acknowledged the China expansion but still insisted the ad was false: 'They're opening production for Jeep in China because they're expanding markets, not because they're shipping jobs overseas, which seemed to be the message of the ad.' Gillespie corrected him: 'No, that's not the message. The message of the ad is they are opening production in China.'"

On Meet the Press on November 4, NBC's David Gregory took a shot at Romney:

"The head of Chrysler said that that is deceptive, that they are opening production facilities to service the Chinese market while they're also expanding production in Ohio. This from a business leader, Governor Romney, who apparently thinks it's good business to outsource in order to make companies more competitive. Is this the hopeful, specific agenda that Governor Romney has for the state of Ohio and the country?"

On Early Start on November 5, CNN's Soledad O'Brien hammered Romney surrogate Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio):

"Was it a mistake then to run that Jeep ad which ran in Toledo, Ohio? (...) As you know it was deemed by PolitiFact to be false. The GM of -- the head of GM came out and said that this was not the case. And you know, the head of Fiat also said this was untrue, that Jeep's not moving production to China. So, I'm curious, you know, if you look back at that and say probably shouldn't have done that?"

On NBC's Today on November 3, MSNBC's Chris Matthews tied the ad to other obstacles hampering Romney's electoral chances:

"I think Romney's got a problem with his dishonest ad and his – and he's objectively dishonest about Jeep, his opposition to the existence of FEMA, his opposition to the bailout or the rescue of the auto industry. These are objective facts he has running against him right now and pretty good job numbers on Friday."

CNN's Jessica Yellin, on Anderson Cooper 360 on November 3, also disparaged the truth of the ad:

"The words, Anderson, are literally correct, but very misleading. The truth of the matter is, in the auto bailout President Obama allowed for the company Fiat, which is owned by the Italians, to buy Chrysler. So that part is true. But they are now making some Jeeps in China for the Chinese market. The ad, because of graphics on the ad, make it seem as though they are taking American jobs and moving them to China. The CEO of the company has said no, that's not true. Those American jobs are staying right here in America."

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