On June 21, Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger wrote the following:
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But so has … the Washington Post! Here is WaPo “fact checker” Glenn Kessler today deflating these claims which also appeared in a campaign commercial for President Obama:
Regarding the outsourcing claims, we have frowned on these before. The Obama campaign rests its case on three examples of Bain-controlled companies sending jobs overseas. But only one of the examples — involving Holson Burns Group — took place when Romney was actively managing Bain Capital.
Regarding the other claims, concerning Canadian electronics maker SMTC Manufacturing and customer service firm Modus Media, the Obama campaign tries to take advantage of a gray area in which Romney had stepped down from Bain — to manage the Salt Lake City Olympics — but had not sold his shares in the firm. We had previously given the Obama campaign Three Pinocchios for such tactics.
The Modus Media case is also not an example of shipping jobs overseas. The company closed one plant in California and transferred the jobs to North Carolina, Washington and Utah. At the same time, it opened an unrelated plant in Mexico. The Obama campaign once trumpeted the fact that we had dinged a conservative Super PAC for making the same leap in logic. …
Incredibly, Hamburger cited both the Modus Media and SMTC Manufacturing examples in his article, as well as several others which I’ve invalidated. But Kessler totally lets his colleague off the hook
Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post reported Friday that some Bain companies earned money in part by helping other companies subcontract work overseas. That is an interesting area of inquiry but not the same as saying [Romney] was a corporate raider” who “shipped jobs to China and Mexico.”
It was a new Obama campaign ad making those specific charges, and Kessler gives them four “Pinocchios.” Obama should not be calling Romney a “corporate raider” who got rich by shipping jobs overseas.
But he gives Hamburger a pass with that phrase “an interesting area of inquiry.” Really? That’s it?
Hamburger cites different aspects of the business operations of Modus and SMTC in his expose — as well as those of several other companies — to make his charge that Romney and Bain were “pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components.” But, to repeat, those charges are flimsy at best, laughably wrong at worst.
Kessler needs to fact check those or quit calling himself a “fact checker.” And doesn’t the WaPo have an ombudsman? There is plenty here for him to investigate. For instance, Hamburger writes the following:
One of those was a California bicycle manufacturer called GT Bicycle Inc. that Bain bought in 1993. The growing company relied on Asian labor, according to SEC filings. Two years later, with the company continuing to expand, Bain helped take it public. In 1998, when Bain owned 22 percent of GT’s stock and had three members on the board, the bicycle maker was sold to Schwinn, which had also moved much of its manufacturing offshore as part of a wider trend in the bicycle industry of turning to Chinese labor.
But it turns out GT Bicycles had overseas suppliers before Bain invested in the company. The story doesn’t outright suggest Bain moved jobs overseas, but it does lead readers to make that erroneous leap for themselves. The WaPo should ding Hamburger for that.