Instead of issuing the “correction” that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee-apparent, has requested of the Boston Globe, the Globe yesterday doubled down on its reporting regarding Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital during a period, 1999 – 2002, when Romney claims he had already “retired” from the company. Particularly damning is a quote from Romney’s own attorney during a state Ballot Law Commission hearing convened to determine whether Romney had standing to run for governor in 2002, after having spent the previous three years in Utah, managing the Olympics. From the July 14 Globe story:
“He succeeded in that three-year period in restoring confidence in the Olympic Games, closing that disastrous deficit and staging one of the most successful Olympic Games ever to occur on US soil,” said Peter L. Ebb from Ropes & Gray.
“Now while all that was going on, very much in the public eye, what happened to his private and public ties to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? And the answer is they continued unabated just as they had.”
The Romney campaign declined to comment on the record about whether the business trips and board meetings were related to Bain Capital obligations.
One would hope that this latest report would convince the Washington Post‘s ace fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, to reconsider the three “Pinocchios” he awarded the Obama campaign for asserting that Romney either remained involved with Bain during the period for which he claims he did not, or he lied to a federal agency — in this case, the Security and Exchange Commission, for filings in which he was listed as CEO and sole shareholder in Bain during the period under question.
Kessler began his post this way:
There is a journalistic convention that appears to place great weight on “SEC documents.” But these are public filings by companies, which usually means there are not great secrets hidden in them. The Fact Checker, in an earlier life covering Wall Street, spent many hours looking for jewels in SEC filings.
Translation: Journalists take too seriously the information on documents filed with the federal government by corporations.
He goes on:
Despite the furor, we did not see much new in the Globe article. We had examined many SEC documents related to Romney and Bain in January, and concluded that much of the language saying Romney was “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” was boilerplate that did not reveal whether he was actually managing Bain at the time. (For instance, there is no standard definition of a “chief executive,” securities law experts say, and there is no requirement for anyone to have any responsibilities even if they have that title.)
Translation: It all depends on what the definition of “CEO” is. Unfortunately, the journalistic convention that “chief executive officer” is the top official of a company on account of being the “chief” (not to mention an “executive” and an “officer,” though not necessarily a gentleman), is sadly misguided.
That being the case, does that mean that Washington Post CEO Donald Graham might be secretly retired, and actually have no responsibility for anything taking place at the company? Just askin’.
UPDATE: Darn! I thought I was being brilliantly creative with that headline, but apparently I’m not the only one for whom it came to mind. Here’s a song parody poised to go viral.