Fox's Steve Doocy and Chris Wallace are deflecting from the issue of Mitt Romney's tax returns, calling the Obama campaign's focus on Romney's refusal to release more financial records a "distraction." Meanwhile, prominent conservatives, as well as the American people, continue to demand full disclosure.
On the August 19 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace suggested that the Obama campaign's calls for Romney to release more tax returns were "a distraction from the major issues of the economy and jobs and national debt and foreign policy that the president says he wants this campaign to be about." When Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs disagreed that they were a "distraction," Wallace replied, "We are talking about Mitt Romney's personal tax returns. We're not talking about tax policy for all of Americans."
Wallace added: "You can have [an argument about tax policy] without having his tax returns."
Wallace also tried to deflect from the issue by questioning Obama's decision to invoke executive privilege regarding the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious. But the truth is that Obama only asserted executive privilege over documents generated after the program was terminated. Moreover, Obama has been more sparing in his use of executive privilege than nearly every president since Ronald Reagan.
By contrast, presidential candidates are expected to release several years' worth of tax returns -- the standard dates back decades.
Nevertheless, Doocy this morning also labeled the effort a "distraction":
Doocy, Wallace, and the whole Fox team have been running interference for the Romney campaign since the issue resurfaced in mid-July. Their deflection continues even as prominent Republicans are calling for Romney to release additional tax returns:
- Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol: "Here's what he should do. He should release the tax tomorrow. It's crazy. You've got to release six, eight, ten years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two."
- The National Review: "By drawing out the argument over the returns, Romney is playing into the president's hands. He should release them, respond to any attacks they bring, and move on."
Contrary to Wallace's claim that the tax returns issue is a distraction, a majority of Americans and two-thirds of independents agree that Romney should release more of his returns.