Rolling Stone: From Music Mag to Smear Machine
As I started reading the Rolling Stone “expose” on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital by Matt Taibbi which is scheduled to be published in the September 13th addition, I was genuinely interested to see if someone had actually found a crack in the Romney “character” armor.
It didn’t take long to realize this was going to be nothing more than an envy laced, bigoted, intellectually dishonest, source-less, opinion piece that doesn’t even pretend to adhere to some resemblance of objective journalism. All of which was revealed in the first two pages.
What happened to the days when Rolling Stone was about seeing your favorite Rocker on the cover?
As a retired broadcast journalist and former news director, I was trained in the old school ways of news gathering and reporting. When journalists did their best to leave personal bias and ideology out of the story and clearly labeled opinion as such. Not these days.
The title, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, really should be changed. It should read “My Angry Personal Narrative About How I Believe Mitt Romney Got Disgustingly Rich, and Why it Pisses Me Off”, By Matt Taibbi.
That title would be a far more accurate indicator of the story to follow. Oh Taibbi used all the proper dates, names, and second-hand quotes, he just organized it and spelled it out the way he sees it as opposed to how it actually happened according to those who were actually there and participated in the many Bain deals on both sides. What we read in Rolling Stone is an interpretation. Taibbi wasn’t there. He didn’t participate in any discussion of any deal Bain ever did. He didn’t even research it very well. Where are the interviews? The smoking guns? Where is the irrefutable evidence that everything Taibbi is telling us is the absolute undeniable truth?
He appears to rely on old rehashed stories and quotes from other publications but even then we only get snippets and selective quotes with little or no context. He names sources such as, former Bain employees, one Wall Street trader, or a prominent Wall Street lawyer. Tough to cross-examine those witnesses.
He did interview a guy who was once at KB Toys, but I don’t know why. The Bain KB Toy deal happened long after Romney had left Bain to run the Olympics and then to run for Governor of Massachusetts.
In fact Glenn Kessler, fact checker at the Washington Post had this to say about Bain, Romney, and KB Toys. “Can you really say Romney was responsible for the closing of 600 stores at KB Toys in 2004, given that the initial Bain investment took place in 2000, when he was at the Olympics, and he had clearly left Bain by 2002? It would have been fuzzier if the investment had started under Romney’s confirmed leadership, but I could find no evidence of his direct involvement in this deal.”
Taibbi’s narrative about Ampad is just as shaky. If you want to know the facts about Bain and Ampad or even GST go to this link at Factcheck.org. It’s not quite what Taibbi leads us to believe. I’ve also written about the GS Technology deal. You can read about it here.
Taibbi’s method of fact gathering and reporting resembles one of a reporter who decides to do a write-up on a football game while seeing only the final score but then proceeds to tell you how he thinks the game was played based on the outcome. Even though he was never in attendance.
I get it. Your guy looks like he could be beat and all you’ve got to date is that Mitt Romney cut a kids long hair when he was 18 and he strapped a dog kennel to the roof of his car… I get it. But I don’t get the disdain for success and the need to demonize those who attain success by so many in the media and on the left. I really don’t.
Perhaps it was Taibbi’s time spent in Russia that led him to despise individual success and see it as an affront to the welfare of the collective.
This story might have been easier to swallow if it held even a tiny hint of objectivity. Bain did have many success stories. Companies who did make it after they were acquired and are still doing quite well. A true story would include those truths too, would it not? But why ruin a good smear with good news about a good man you want to look bad?
I get it.
I’ve been told Matt Taibbi wished he had been a novelist rather than a journalist. After reading this piece of fiction I’d say he got his wish.