Fox News Sunday spent more than 13 minutes on a segment attempting to discredit the Romney-attack video, King of Bain, put out by a Gingrich-supporting PAC. I thought the Gingrich-supporting guest behind the video, Rick Tyler, did a terrific job of defending the video as host Chris Wallace raised numerous questions about its credibility. It’s worth noting that those questions have been raised elsewhere in the media, too. And Gingrich has quite a lengthy record of false smears. Still, there are plenty of clues that Wallace was not motivated merely by a desire for truth.
In the past, I’ve written about pro-Romney behavior by Wallace. One of my earlier posts disappeared in our website move but I stand by my contention that Wallace deliberately and gratuitously maneuvered Senator Tom Coburn into criticizing Newt Gingrich in December, while Gingrich was riding on his surge. Last week, I noted Wallace’s ridiculous attempt to play gotcha with Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz by likening Romney’s role as a venture capitalist to President Obama’s role in Solyndra.
Yet where was Wallace on Donald Trump’s thoroughly discredited birther accusations? I don’t remember any 13-minute discussion poking holes in his campaign malarkey. Malarkey which, by the way, Fox News continues to promote.
Wallace was also surprisingly disinterested in fact-checking James O’Keefe when he was named Fox News Sunday’s “Power Player of the Week” for a sting he did against NPR. Then, Wallace reported that O’Keefe’s ACORN videos “pushed Congress to cut off federal funding” but he forgot to mention that ACORN was subsequently fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing whereas O’Keefe’s videos were found to be deceptively edited - and potentially contained evidence of O’Keefe’s own criminal activity for having recorded people without their permission. Wallace also left out questions about the editing of O’Keefe’s NPR video that were raised by Slate, Media Matters and even Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.
But to me, the clincher was that at the end of the interview with Tyler, who never ceded an inch to Wallace on the Romney attacks. Wallace tried painting Gingrich as a hypocrite because he was a member of the board of advisors of Forstmann, Little, a private equity firm supposedly analogous to Romney's Bain Capital. “Exactly during the time that Newt Gingrich was there, did you know that Forstmann, Little invested billions of dollars in two telecommunications firms… that both went bankrupt and that Forstmann, Little was sued by public employees… pension funds?”
What point was there in Wallace bringing that up if not to deliberately discredit Gingrich?
Tyler handled the question adroitly by saying that his beef was with Romney’s record and that if “Teddy” Forstmann were running for president, that would be an issue. Wallace didn’t let it go there. He went on to say that Gingrich “still has money invested in Forstmannn buyout firms… You don’t see a contradiction?”
After Tyler parried that one, too, Wallace gave the last word to Chris Chocola, who had been introduced as calling Gingrich’s attack ads, “disgusting.”
But in all that truth seeking, somehow Wallace never got around to noting that Forstmann, Little is not exactly a Romney parallel. As the Huffington Post reported,
Forstmann, however, became critical of the over-leveraging of deals in the late 1980s, saying, "Watching these deals get done is like watching a herd of drunk drivers take to the highway on New Year's Eve." He also coined the phrase "barbarians at the gate," later the title of a book about the firm losing the buyout of RJR Nabisco to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
The firm largely wound down operations in 2006 after losing billions in the telecommunications industry. A jury ruled in favor of the state of Connecticut's pension fund lawsuit against the firm over $125 million lost in its failed investments, but awarded no damages.