WSJ Lets Rove Publish Distortions That Benefit His Financial Interest

The Wall Street Journal is letting Karl Rove pen distortions that directly benefit his financial interest in defeating President Obama in November.

Rove, a Fox News contributor and former George W. Bush adviser, co-founded the GOP super PAC American Crossroads in 2010. Crossroads has devoted itself to defeating Obama and assisting Republicans in congressional races in 2012. As of April, Crossroads and its sister group, Crossroads GPS, had raised nearly $100 million for the election. The groups plan to raise at least $240 million ahead of Election Day.

Last week, a Bloomberg Businessweek article declared Rove “back” after leaving the White House five years ago, and reported that "[a]long with the billionaire Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other conservative allies, the Crossroads-led offensive is collectively poised to spend more than $1 billion on the 2012 elections, according to Republican operatives."

Despite the fact that Rove is raising money to influence the presidential election and congressional races and has a financial stake in the outcome, The Wall Street Journal gives the Republican strategist space in its pages to comment on the election. Or more specifically, the Journal gives Rove an opportunity to publish distortions against Obama that directly benefit his financial interest.

In his August 1 Journal op-ed, Rove highlighted three of what he claims are recent gaffes by Obama and speculated that “the president may be nearly exhausted”:

“If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Despite President Obama's effort to walk back these remarks, the damage they've caused to him remains. And that's because what he said in Roanoke, Va., on July 13 came across as a true expression of his worldview.

The president's vivid words did not come out of nowhere. While pushing for higher taxes on upper-income people, Mr. Obama often refers to the wealthy as “fortunate” (such as at a Democratic National Committee event last September) and “incredibly blessed” (at a campaign event on July 23). Translation: Successful people don't really deserve to keep what they earn.

“You didn't build that” is not Mr. Obama's only recent problematic statement. In a June 8 news conference, he said “The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.” And in Oakland, Calif., on July 24, he told donors that on the economy, “We tried our plan and it worked!” These comments make voters wince.    

But what Rove claimed are gaffes have been revealed as distortions by journalists and independent fact checkers.  

Slate's Dave Weigel called it “insanely misleading” to claim that Obama, while discussing his own economic policies, said “we tried our plan -- and it worked.” Weigel pointed to Obama's full quote, which made it clear that he was referring to economic policies during the Clinton administration that taxed high income earners at a higher rate than they are today.

Jonathan Chait described it as “highly misleading” to claim that Obama said the “private sector is doing fine.” The New York Magazine writer explained that “Obama was clearly noting the decline of the public sector as a way of refuting the right-wing caricature of his policies, as the full remarks clearly indicate.”

And Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler said that portraying Obama's “you didn't build that” remark out of context and as an attack on business owners -- as Rove did -- is highly deceptive. Rove's American Crossroads previously released an ad that similarly distorted the president's “build that” remarks.