PBS's Mark Shields Cracks Romney Has a Strength: He Sure Knows How to Evade Taxes

On the PBS NewsHour, liberal analyst Mark Shields rarely has anything good to say about Mitt Romney, which is quite a contrast with his partner, Obama-infatuated “conservative” David Brooks.

He claimed on Friday night that  Romney had a great strength that’s been overlooked, and then cracked that Mitt sure knows how to evade taxes:

MARK SHIELDS: There is one great strength here that Romney does have, and I think it's been overlooked. And that is, the Republican position has been, we want to increase revenue without raising the rates. So that means closing tax loopholes or tax expenditures. There's nobody who knows more about tax loopholes and tax expenditures than Mitt Romney. (Laughter)  I mean, he brings an extra. . .

JUDY WOODRUFF, anchor: I thought you were about to say this is positive.

MARK SHIELDS: No, that is positive. (Laughter) He understands it. This is a guy who could sit down with the tax code and explain it.

Shields began by insisting that Obama had Romney on the ropes will all the attacks on Romney’s finances and business management:

MARK SHIELDS: But every campaign starts with the very simple procedure of sitting down with your own candidate and going through what is there in your background, whether it's of a personal nature, or a failed romance, or a legal decision or whatever, that could come out and hurt your campaign.

And it happened obviously with George W. Bush in 2000 on the eve of that election in 2000, a close race. It was revealed that he had been arrested for drunk driving, convicted in -- 24 years earlier. And it became a problem.

Mitt Romney, they have done this with Mitt Romney, not that there is anything of a criminal nature in his background. He made the decision he is not going to reveal. I mean, nobody has ever run for president with a Swiss bank account. I mean, Steve Forbes did, but he. . .

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, again, you're referring to the tax return.

MARK SHIELDS: His tax returns, yes. I just think it's all of a piece and I just think it's a problem. Mitt Romney shouldn't be on the defensive. He's on the defensive.

Shields didn’t acknowledge (as Howard Kurtz did) that a willing media is pounding away with Obama’s line on Romney. How could Romney not be on the defensive? There are some fissures in the media. The “independent fact checkers” have found fault with Obama’s ads. On PBS, former chief Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson strongly denounced Team Obama:

GERSON: Well, it's the Obama campaign that made this not just about outsourcing, but accusing Mitt Romney personally of lying on government documents, which is a felony. That's what -- campaign officials did this. For that kind of charge, you need significant evidence in the context of a presidential campaign, which so far has not just been lacking, but fact-checking organizations of The Washington Post and FactCheck.org have said, well, you know, this case is really quite weak. There's very little evidence here.

And so that, you know, is, I think, a -- it shows a tendency on the part of the Obama campaign, not just to criticize, but to vilify. So it's not enough for Romney to do outsourcing and have a debate on outsourcing. He has to be a felon. It is not just enough that he won't disclose his tax returns.

They compared him to Richard Nixon in the level of secrecy. I don't think these are a particularly set of credible charges. Mitt Romney has a lot of problems, a lot of challenges on these issues. But he doesn't come across as a Nixonian criminal figure. He's more like a wealthy Boy Scout. So I think that this doesn't meet the minimal levels of credibility. In my view, this particular swift boat sinks.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis