ABC News: Romney might be a felon

ABC News is running hard with an unsubstantiated accusation that Mitt Romney might be a felon.  At the time of this post, it’s square and center on their homepage.

Earlier in the day, a less virulent form of the story parlayed–seemingly from out of nowhere–factcheck.org’s smackdown of Team Obama’s outsourcing charge into a suggestion of Romney’s culpability:

But, as fact checkers note, Team Obama does not provide any specific evidence to back up claims that Romney was actively managing Bain between 1999 and 2002.

If they had, Romney could be liable for felony charges in court for lying in sworn statements.

The follow-up story by Matt Negrin makes clear reference to a Boston Globe report and White House campaign fodder suggesting a possible crime.  Yet, Devin Dwyer’s earlier report, deficient in these references, ends up looking like a random mulling of counterfactuals.  If more mainstream journalists followed Dwyer’s pattern, we might see some other hypotheses regularly floated as objective reporting:

If the unemployment rate were two percent lower today, President Obama’s campaign would not be in such rough shape.”

If President Obama attended church regularly, fewer people would be confused about his religion.”

If President Obama had chosen a Fat Tire instead of a Bud Light for the Beer Summit, he might have locked up the LGBT vote.”

Dwyer’s report can be consigned to a bin of recent, poorly written pieces, among which we can include Virginia Heffernan’s universally indecipherable response to Ann Marie Slaughter’s work-life balance essay.  If nothing else, it shows just how eager mainstream reporters are to associate Republicans with criminality.

Duel of the embattled visages

You know how news websites usually have a most-read stories box.  Sometimes, the Christian Science Monitor inexplicably has an old report at the number one spot.  Earlier this week, a January story critically probing Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital was on top.  The lead photo struck me as over the top in conveying the anti-business tone of the article.

Christian Science Monitor

From the side, a harsh light defines the subject’s face.  Squinty-eyed, she stares off into the distance, as if in the midst of a hardscrabble existence.  We know she’s not happy.  Maybe you can imagine the photographer coaching her, “No, not quite.  Try to look a little more . . . off-put.  Turn your head just a little more to the left.  That’s it.”

The photo surely recalls an iconic image from one of the more trying times of last century.

Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange, 1936. Wikimedia.

I wouldn’t try to question the artistic merit of Lange’s photography.  But given today’s sensibilities, to stumble upon such a spitting facsimile of her work’s form and style ought to puzzle if not disturb us.  In Lange’s time, America was reaching, in ways more benign than in other parts of the world, its own totalitarian zenith.  Government drafted artists en masse to produce, well, propaganda.  And surely, that’s what Lange’s work is: biased, and with a story to tell.  This is not bad in itself, but in our jaded, post-Vietnam, post-Iraq culture, there’s a double standard at work.

It’s routine and accepted for journalists to play up poverty as grinding.  But they can’t allow themselves to show private sector success as uplifting.  Not alarmist enough, or in tow with liberal media execs’ worldview.  When we hear or read “Bain Capital,” we expect to see grizzled profiles rather than glowing families.  Such a sustained slant is pernicious to our way of thinking, and in turn to the way we live.  At least there are those who would straighten the record.

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