Fox News is helping Mitt Romney cover up discrepancies in his account of when he left Bain Capital by hosting the Republican presidential candidate for a softball interview that completely whitewashed the substance of the growing controversy.
The Romney campaign has been scrambling to explain recent reports by the Boston Globe, Mother Jones, and Talking Points Memo that contradict the campaign's claim that Romney left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics committee. Those reports have raised questions as to why Romney continued to report income earned as a Bain executive as late as 2002, and why he continued signing securities forms after he had supposedly left the firm:
SEC files include at least six instances of Romney signing documents after February 1999, proving -- unless the signatures were forged -- that his claim to not have "been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way" is wrong.
The Huffington Post's Ryan Grimm and Jason Cherkis further reported that as late as 2002, Romney was "authorized to execute, acknowledge, deliver and record any recordable instrument purporting to affect an interest in real property" with Bain. On MSNBC's Up w/ Chris Hayes, a former Bain Capital partner "noted that Romney remained 'legally' in charge of the company for at least two years after the former governor says he left to take over the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City."
But during a 7-minute interview Monday, the hosts of Fox & Friends didn't ask Romney to explain those discrepancies.
The controversy continued Sunday when Romney advisor Ed Gillespie told CNN that the discrepancy between Romney holding critical titles in Bain capital after he claimed to have left is because Romney "retired retroactively to 1999" from Bain in 2002:
"There may have been a thought at the time that it could be part time, but it was not part time," Gillespie said.
"He took a leave of absence and in fact he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to 1999 as a result," he added. "He left a life he loved to go to Salt Lake City and help a country he loves more, and somehow Chicago... is trying to make it something sinister."
Forbes contributor TJ Walker has argued that Romney's response to the controversy has raised more questions than they have answered, including:
1. Are you contending that an individual can simultaneously be the CEO, president, managing director of a company, and its sole stockholder and somehow be "disassociated" from the company or accurately classified as someone not having "any" formal involvement with a company?
2. You have stated that in "Feb. 1999 I left Bain capital and all management responsibility" and "I had no ongoing activity or involvement." It depends on what the definition of "involvement" is, doesn't it? Clearly you were involved with Bain to the extent that you owned it. Are you defining "involvement" in a uniquely specific way that only means "full-time, active, 60-hours-a-week, hands-on manager?"
If Fox & Friends is any indication, Romney won't be forced to answer any of those questions if he sticks with Fox News.