CNBC Screw Up On Auto-Bailout Story Nearly Becomes A Campaign Headache For Romney

eamon javers cnbc

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Update on this story, See: OK, So Maybe The Treasury DID Speak To Bain And Company About The Auto Bailout>>Original post:

By the time this election is said and done, Mitt Romney’s experience in private equity will have been discussed a million times. And for most Americans, there will STILL be no clarity about what private equity actually is or what Romney did at Bain.

Take, for example, CNBCs recent gaffe. Their correspondent, Eamon Javers, reported that Bain Capital was one of the consulting companies that took part in the auto-bailout, and that the consulting firm recommended that the number of dealerships in the U.S. be reduced.

CNBC has since retracted that report because it was Bain Consulting that was involved in the auto bailouts, and that company has no relationship with Bain Capital.

Unfortunately, there’s the internet. That means that conservative blogs like Hot Air and The National Review pounced on the story. Here’s the scathing original report on it from Hot Air:

CNBC speculates that this might explain why Obama’s “car czar,” Steve Rattner, ended up slobbering all over Bain in a surprising op-ed in Politico today. Rattner purported to offer “full disclosure” in that piece by acknowledging that he’d worked with Bain Capital “on several projects” after Romney left, but he didn’t mention that the White House had been advised by its sister firm, Bain & Company (which Romney led briefly during the early 90s), on closing down dealerships as part of the GM restructuring. Maybe he figured Bain’s role in that was bound to come out sooner rather than later and decided to go on record as being a fan before reporters demanded to know why he accepted advice from those darned job-killing corporate vultures so despised by Democrats.

Most websites have since posted retractions, but the original report is still out there floating around with all of the other misinformation about Romney, Bain, and the private equity industry in general.

The thing is, CNBCs foible may have been an honest mistake, but it isn’t helping to clarify the discussion this country is having about private equity at all. As for Republicans, who knows how many people have seen the story and haven’t seen the retraction. Brutal.