CNN Examines Obama's Donations From Bain Employees – But How Much Have They Actually Reported on It?

CNN's Dana Bash reported Friday on the irony of President Obama hitting Mitt Romney's connections to Bain Capital when he himself has received donations from Bain employees. CNN has highlighted Obama's hypocrisy on this matter before, but this specific story has certainly not received much air-time – if any at all – in the last two weeks.

"But isn't it hypocritical for the Obama campaign to keep money from employees of a company it goes after as job-killers?" correspondent Dana Bash asked during the segment. Yet this story of Obama's clear hypocrisy has certainly not received the attention it merits on CNN.

Obama raised almost $125,000 from Bain Capital employees, including three who gave the maximum amount of cash the law allows. One of the donors was even helping the campaign raise money from other sources. "$125,000 is a lot of money from people who work at a company the Obama campaign and its allies vilify," Bash pointed out.

It is one thing for Obama to be a hypocrite by knocking Romney and Bain Capital while raising money from the financial sector and from the head of a private equity firm. It is an even bigger story, however, if he railed against Bain's practices and yet raised money directly from Bain employees. That is exactly what Bash reported, and yet that story has been largely – if not entirely – ignored by CNN.

Although CNN questioned the Obama campaign's attack ad on Romney and Bain, which first aired May 14, they did not report his donations from Bain employees in the hours after the ad broke.

On the evening of Tuesday May 15, Anderson Cooper aired a critical "Keeping Them Honest" report on Obama's hypocrisy for hitting Romney and Bain and yet raising money from the head of a private equity firm who had done business with Bain. Anchor Brooke Baldwin also noted this hypocrisy on Tuesday morning.

A partial transcript of the segment, which aired on May 25 on The Situation Room at 4:15 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

GLORIA BORGER: President Obama put Mitt Romney on notice this week, that he's going to keep hammering away at his record as CEO of Bain Capital. But it turns out that the President has his own connection to the firm, and that would be a money connection.

(...)

DANA BASH, CNN correspondent: Well Gloria, the Obama campaign has always prided itself on getting contributions small and large from all walks of life, but one source of campaign cash can probably be described with one word – awkward.

(...)

BASH: The irony: some of the money to pay for this TV ad may have come from inside the very company Team Obama is demonizing in it – Bain Capital. It turns out employees of Bain Capital have given $124,900 in donations to the Obama campaign in this election cycle. And three of those Bain Capital donors – Mark Nunnelly, Steven Pagliuca, and Jonathan Lavine, have given the President's re-election efforts the maximum amount allowed by law, $35,800.

In the case of Lavine, he didn't just write his own check to the President, he's what's called a "bundler," a fundraiser who helps the Obama campaign raise money from others. $125,000 is a lot of money from people who work at a company the Obama campaign and its allies vilify, like in this Super PAC ad.

(...)

BASH: All of the nearly $125,000 in donations to the Obama campaign from Bain employees were made in 2011, well before the President's team started accusing Romney of killing jobs while at Bain. Still, the Obama campaign tells CNN, they do not intend to return any campaign cash from Bain employees.

"No one aside from Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when in fact, his goal was profit maximization," said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. But isn't it hypocritical for the Obama campaign to keep money from employees of a company it goes after as job-killers?

(...)

BORGER: Dana, but if you're working for private equity and you want to give a political contribution now, do you think twice about it? Particularly the Obama campaign, who seems to be sort of taking a whack at you?

BASH: It's hard to imagine not, particularly it's not just private equity, but in this particular case the very company that is the subject, of course, of all of these ads and attacks by the Obama campaign. Just talking anecdotally to people who I know who raise money from the Romney campaign – for the Romney campaign, I should say – they have told me that many contributors who traditionally gave to President Obama on Wall Street are no longer doing it specifically for this reason. He's certainly getting money from private equity, but some of them are switching over to Mitt Romney because they're sick of being vilified.
 

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