Nothing to See Here: Soledad O'Brien Sidesteps Obama's Hypocrisy on Romney and Bain

CNN's Soledad O'Brien has carried water for President Obama before, and her "nothing to see here" attitude on Tuesday's Starting Point in regards to the Obama's blatant hypocrisy made that all the more clear.

The night before, O'Brien's colleague Anderson Cooper grilled the Obama campaign over the President's personal attacks on Mitt Romney. Cooper maintained that Obama is hitting Romney's record at Bain Capital while fund raising from another head of a private equity firm that did business with Bain, thus committing a blatant act of hypocrisy.

Soledad all but ignored that case and focused simply on the validity of Obama's attack ads. Her guest even brought up Cooper's report from the night before, and Soledad offered a lame "that may be the case, but..." response and promptly changed the subject. She later implied that the ads are justified and asked "could this potentially provide a big problem for Governor Romney?"

O'Brien spent the majority of the two segments during the 7 and 8 a.m. hour giving the reasons behind Obama's attacks and questioning Romney's line of defense.

Soledad asked if "you take companies and you buy them and you provide opportunity for your shareholders which sometimes provides jobs and sometimes kills jobs, isn't that not necessarily something you want to necessarily run on?" she asked of Romney's time at Bain.

And she stood behind the attack on Bain's ownership of Ampad, even though the Romney campaign said Bain relinquished control of the company four years before financial difficulties hit. Bain still owned 36 percent of the company, she insisted.

"So, when you're talking jobs, then is it fine to point to Bain Capital as something that can be the focus of a campaign, looking at where jobs have been destroyed to some degree, at a company like Ampad?" she asked.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 22 on Starting Point at 7:04 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: But isn't the line that's critical there the difference between venture capital and vulture capital, right? Ultimately to me – I don't think anybody's arguing should America be a capitalist nation, right? Genuinely, we're not having that conversation. We're having the conversation about if you take companies and you grow business and provide jobs, which everyone is running on, that's a good thing, if, in fact, you don't necessarily do that, you take companies and you buy them and you provide opportunity for your shareholders which sometimes provides jobs and sometimes kills jobs, isn't that not necessarily something you want to necessarily run on?

(...)

O'BRIEN: Right, so that brings us back, right, to the original premise behind that ad and ultimately what this is about. Mitt Romney would say as a businessman who worked in private equity, I am that person.

CAIN: I get it.

O'BRIEN: President Obama would say as a – as running the country for the last x number of years, I look at what has been done through Bain Capital and I think that's a bad thing. Ergo I am the person to run the country. Right, those are the two competing arguments, which ultimately – isn't that why the conversation is relevant, why having the discussion about Bain actually is a relevant conversation?

(...)

O'BRIEN: Barbara Comstock is a Mitt Romney campaign adviser. Nice to see you, Barbara. Thanks for being with us. Certainly appreciate it. Cory Booker says he's furious and he was taken out of context. Is he right?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, adviser, Romney campaign: Well, I think Cory Booker was taken to the wood shed. And I think what was more interesting last night, you saw Anderson Cooper asking David Axelrod about the hypocrisy of Barack Obama starting this whole attack on private enterprise and free enterprise on a day when he was having a fundraiser with private equity.

O'BRIEN: And that may be the case, but my question was, was Cory Booker right? He was creatively edited and was he taken out of context?

(...)

O'BRIEN: So, does that mean that a conversation about Bain and a focusing of a campaign around Bain, which is what President Obama said, you know, was really – he said, it's not a distraction. This is going to be the focus of the campaign. Do you think that Governor Romney is fine with that or thinks that that's not a good thing?

COMSTOCK: If Barack Obama wants to do that, let's look at his investment at the Department of Energy where there are 64 companies that the inspector general is investigating for what he calls the friends and family plan, companies like Solyndra where the President wasted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money –

O'BRIEN: So then, the governor is saying the record about Bain is absolutely fair game in this campaign. Let's go do it. Is that what he's saying?

COMSTOCK: I think what is fair game and what the American people want to focus on is jobs. And this President doesn't have a record because he's been wasting money on companies like Solyndra where he gave corporate – you know, his corporate friends got money and that kind of thing, and there were no jobs created. There were jobs destroyed --

O'BRIEN: So, then let's talk a little bit about jobs, because Bain Capital had a statement that they put out. And they wrote this. "Our control of Ampad ended in 1996, fully four years before it encountered financial difficulties due to overwhelming pressure from 'big box' retailers, declines in paper demand, and intense foreign price pressures."

But really, Bain owned the company until 1999. I think they were the majority stakeholder, right? So, 36 percent, I think, was the number that they gave of what they owned in the company. And the "big box" they're talking about was Staples, which was a company that's been touted as a huge success by Governor Romney, not just some sort of random "big box" company, but actually, Staples was the company.

So, when you're talking jobs, then is it fine to point to Bain Capital as something that can be the focus of a campaign, looking at where jobs have been destroyed to some degree, at a company like Ampad?

(...)

O'BRIEN: Let me stop you there. And hold on, Barbara. I'll get back to you one second. But voters are not talking about the role of private equity in the free market system.

(...)

O'BRIEN: Let me get a final question to Barbara before I let her go. At the end of the day – and we've been debating this all morning, so we've sort of been going back and forth on this – isn't the question going to be about Bain was – is a company, private equity is about making money for your shareholders.

And sometimes, though, shareholders are foundations, as you know, you were discussing the Anderson's interview yesterday, and he was talking about that. Sometimes, though, shareholders are pension funds, you know, so – and sometimes, those shareholders are people who don't mind if companies are blown up in order to make money. And at the end of the day, isn't this going to -- could this potentially provide a big problem for Governor Romney?

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