CNN must have known that when it pitted Glenn Beck TV's Amy Holmes against the perilously liberal David Shuster of Al Gore's Current TV, sparks were going to fly.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, when the media's coverage of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Bain Capital surfaced, the pair did end up facing off with Holmes not surprisingly looking like the only adult in the room (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Host Howard Kurtz asked Holmes if she felt the media did a good job this week of covering what organizations like Bain Capital do, “or was it just a sort of a game of assessing the political damage to Romney.”
“From what I was reading, it was just the political he said/she said or he said/he said,” answered Holmes.
She continued, “At GBTV we actually dug down into what is Bain Capital, what is venture capitalism, what do private equity firms do, because so much of the coverage did not actually inform the reader about what exactly this firm would do, and therefore, are these charges fair.”
This was a great point, for with few exceptions, the press coverage of Romney and Bain largely misrepresented what VC and PE firms do whilst completely ignoring their real function which is to invest money in either startups or struggling companies to improve their profitability. The net effect quite often is that such companies become much stronger as a result and end up being some of the nation’s most successful as well as major employers.
What has been disturbingly absent in discussions about Bain is that since the ’90s, some of America’s top companies were nurtured by VCs; tech giants Google and Cisco come to mind.
Sadly, as they looked for ways to excoriate Romney this week, such inconvenient truths were largely ignored by the Obama-loving media.
Count Shuster amongst such sycophants who interjected, “Amy, I'm curious, at GBTV, did you dig down to the fact that Bain Capital, they actually pay fifteen percent carried interest rate as opposed to the rest of Americans who pay 25, 28, or 33 or 35?”
Actually, Shuster wasn’t being totally accurate. It’s not that VCs and PEs like Bain Capital pay a “fifteen percent carried interest rate.” Instead, their investment gains are typically considered “carried interest” and therefore are only taxed at fifteen percent.
Regardless, Holmes, after laughing in Shuster's face, replied, “We certainly didn’t get into those sorts of financial details.”
Shuster again rudely interrupted, “Well, why not, because that was a key part of Bain Capital and that’s a key argument here? And the other thing is, at GBTV, did you get into the fact that Mitt Romney essentially…”
At that point, Holmes interrupted nicely saying, “I’m not going to make this a debate between Current TV and GBTV and your boss and my boss. However, the question that Howie asked was did the mainstream media look at what does Bain Capital do, and I would say for the most part, it didn’t, and I think you’d probably agree.”
Exactly. In addition, the media have talked about the carried interest issue and how Romney saved money on taxes because of it. As such, GBTV wouldn’t have been breaking any new ground by delving into that. Instead, Holmes felt the aspects of this issue not being addressed by the press were more important to her reporting.
Shuster clearly didn’t get that, and ended up making himself look foolish by continuing with this line of questioning.
“The ad that Mitt Romney just ran in South Carolina featuring a steel mill. That steel mill got $37 million from the state of Indiana and subsidies,” said Shuster.
Holmes responded without batting an eyelash, “We did talk about that actually as a matter of fact, and we talked about that there were conservative arguments to be made against Bain Capital.”
Touché. Not surprisingly, it seems Shuster actually hadn’t seen GBTV’s reporting on this matter, and instead was casting aspersions with assumptions.
Holmes continued, “But getting to the larger point, did viewers, did readers learn about Bain Capital in detail? And I would say, ‘No,’ they learned about Republicans attacking one another on the primary campaign trail.”
Exactly. And, as Holmes pointed out in answer to Kurtz's question, there's far more to Bain than just political capital for Romney's opponents including Shuster.
Brava, Amy. Brava.