PolitiFact's “lie of the year,” awarded today to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign for falsely claiming that Jeep planned to move U.S. production facilities to China, had its roots in conservative media. Throughout the 2012 campaign, many falsehoods used by Romney and the Republican Party were created by and popularized by the conservative press.
On October 25, the Washington Examiner claimed that Jeep “is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China,” mischaracterizing an interview Jeep president Mike Manley gave to Bloomberg a few days earlier, in which Manley said Jeep would be expanding production to China. The story was soon picked up and promoted by the Drudge Report.
A day later, at an October 26 campaign rally in Ohio, Romney noted at a campaign rally that he “saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China.”
The false story soon became the basis of a Romney campaign ad that received heavy rotation in Ohio, which prompted a denial from Jeep's parent company Chrysler and fact-checks from several news outlets. Nonetheless, Fox News stridently defended the accuracy of Romney's ad -- Fox business contributor Stuart Varney called the ad “flat-out accurate,” while chief national correspondent Jim Angle claimed “the head of Fiat-Chrysler confirmed exactly what the Romney ad said.”
This was hardly the first time Fox played a role in promoting Romney campaign falsehoods. Earlier in the year, Fox deceptively edited remarks from President Obama out of context to make it appear as if he was condemning small business for achieving success -- the infamous “you didn't build that” speech. In fact, the full context of Obama's remarks showed that he heralded the individual drive that contributes to the success of small businesses, along with government-funded infrastructure and education.
After receiving heavy rotation on Fox, the false narrative became a regular part of Romney's campaign speeches and eventually made it all the way to Tampa, Florida as a central theme of one night of the Republican National Convention.
Fox, in turn, highlighted its incorporation in the convention and pushed the story harder. Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson boasted that, “Republicans are going to capitalize on [the out-of-context quote] and make that the theme of the Republican National Convention.”
Romney's acceptance speech at the convention incorporated a slew of falsehoods whose origins can be traced back to Fox, including the untrue claim that Obama apologized for America and has been hostile to Israel.
Conservative media, particularly Fox, have devised a system of not only creating falsehoods but amplifying and hyping them until the Republicans parrot them and give them the air of authenticity. This allows for a second round of coverage and amplification, hyping the ideas hatched in conservative media through the mouths of Republicans.