Fact-Checkers Blast Bret Baier and Democrats – The Charge of Romney’s “Flip-Flopping” is Greatly Exaggerated

Last week Governor Romney was interviewed by Bret Baier of Fox News. In the interview, Baier said, “You have been on both sides of some issues. . . .There is video of you changing your position on a whole host of issues from climate change to immigration to abortion to gay rights to health care.” Romney replied “Well Bret, your list is just not accurate. So, one, we are going to have to be better informed about my views on issues and, two, it’s good to see the ads from the Democrats are being seen here at Fox.”

This testy exchange drew a lot of news coverage last week and so the “fact-checkers” at FactCheck.org, Politifact, and the Washington Post decided to do some research to find out who was right and who was wrong. For those who may not know, fact-checkers are organizations that are not affiliated with any political party or candidate. The goal of these fact-checkers is to provide the public with unbiased, independent research on claims being thrown around in the media. 

Well, the fact-checkers did their analysis of this interview and, even though I generally like Bret Baier, there is no other way to describe it but as a huge embarrassment for Mr. Baier. The fact-checkers found that Romney has been very consistent on the topics Baier listed. Lets look at the topics mentioned by Baier one by one and see what the fact-checkers concluded.

1) Climate Change - After the Democrats ran an ad last month showing a supposed change in Romney’s position on the cause of global warming, the fact-checkers at the Washington Post concluded there was “No Flip Flop” saying:

The statements in question were made just months apart, and as far as we can tell, Romney’s policies on global warming did not change. A Romney spokesman said immediately following the speech in question that “Governor Romney’s view on climate change has not changed. He believes it’s occurring, and that human activity contributes to it, but he doesn’t know to what extent.”

We try not to play gotcha. Given that his spokeswoman immediately restated the position that Romney originally expressed, we are inclined to believe he did not change his position, especially since his book “No Apology” (page 227) also made clear that he believed that “human activity is a contributing factor.”

2) Immigration – The people at FactCheck.org concluded that there was “No Flip Flop” in Romney’s position on immigration. Here is their analysis:

“The DNC ad claims that Romney flip-flopped on immigration, showing clips from the presidential debate on Oct. 18 in Las Vegas. The ad shows Romney saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life,” followed by another clip from the same debate in which Romney says, “We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there.” The ad omits the next sentence from Romney’s debate response, in which he says, “And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go.”

It was an embarrassment for Romney, but not a flip-flop.

As we wrote when the debate first aired, there is no evidence that Romney knowingly hired illegal immigrants.

3) Gay Rights – FactCheck.org also concluded “No Flip Flop.” Here is the analysis done by the folks at FactCheck:

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy since has been overturned. When Romney was asked about it in a Republican presidential debate on June 13, he said, “I believe that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ should have been kept in place until conflict was over.”

Are those comments in direct conflict with what Romney said his 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Club? Not really. He said in 1994 that he “ultimately” would like to see gays and lesbians “being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.” And we see no evidence that he’s retreated from that carefully hedged position, much as his recent comments may have disappointed gay-rights advocates. Currently Romney is saying the timing was still not right to change the policy, while the nation was at war. That’s less forceful language than he used in his letter to the Log Cabin Club, but to qualify as a flip-flop he would have to say he no longer favors seeing gays serve openly at any time.

4) Health Care Reform – Did Romney want RomneyCare to be a “model for the nation?” – All three fact-check organizations looked into this claim and all three found that Romney has not flip-flopped in regard to this claim. The conclusion from Politifact is here, the FactCheck summary is here, and the Washington Post article is here. It is very clear to those who have taken the time to investigate this issue that Romney has never changed his position in regard to health care reform. For those in the press to continue repeating this falsehood shows a true lack of journalistic integrity. Romney has always spoken in favor of state-led initiatives where the each state is free to adopt whatever policies will work best for that particular state.

5) Abortion – Romney freely acknowledged all the way back in 2007 during his first presidential run that he changed his position with regard to the government’s role on abortion. As Romney said during the interview, many other leaders of the pro-life movement such as Ronald Reagan also changed their position on abortion during their careers. The story of Romney’s conversion to the pro-life movement can be read here.

As I have said before, the press (including Mr. Baier) has gotten lazy in regard to Romney. All too often they claim “flip-flop” when in fact there is none. No wonder Romney got testy during the interview and expressed afterwords that he was dissatisfied with the direction of the interview. I think Bret Baier owes Romney an apology for misstating Romney’s views. As the fact-checkers show, Bret Baier was clearly incorrect when he said Romney had changed his position on a “whole host of issues” from climate change to immigration to abortion to gay rights to health care.

Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday has an interview scheduled with Romney on Dec. 18. Let’s hope that Wallace does a better job than Baier of researching the facts before he starts asking questions.

Any comments on some of the misconceptions you have seen in the press? What do you think is the most common misconception people have about Romney?

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40 Responses to Fact-Checkers Blast Bret Baier and Democrats – The Charge of Romney’s “Flip-Flopping” is Greatly Exaggerated

  1. Rosa Rivera says:

    @bcollins Thanks for compiling this… I’d seen these fact checks in various areas of the web, but nice to have them in one place – directly debunking Baier’s claims.

    Hope to see much more investigative work like this done down the stretch…. we need to fight the smears!

  2. JoePhelps41 says:

    You’re absolutely right. The media has gotten lazy! Are they really going to continue taking their questions directly from the DNC hits on Mitt?! I’d expect a higher level of ethics from FOX.

    Thanks for putting this together – now lets share this on Twitter and FB in hopes to “flip” the flip-flopper narrative!

  3. SD Girl says:

    Fantastic post! This really cuts to the core of how Romney governs and removes any doubt about his false “flip-flop” label. People need to read this and inform themselves; especially since the data is coming from a nonpolitical organization. I’m going to post this everywhere! ROMNEY 2012!

  4. Mark says:

    appalling the lack of journalistic integrity, especially by fox’s brett baier of all people. really disappointing.

  5. Katrina says:

    Yes! Thank you. Validation feels so good. The media has been lazy for a long time now, but we’re also seeing a strong bias. Laziness + anti-Romney bias is what led to the Bret Baier interview fail. Like Joe above, I’m disheartened to see so many Republicans falling for the talking points of the DNC. Are we really going to let them frame the narrative for OUR primary nomination?

    Every person who calls Mitt Romney a flip-flopper is doing just that: eating out of the Democrat leadership’s hands. Don’t forget we tried to influence the Democrats’ primary last time around. They’re doing the same to us now. We just have to be smart because subliminal messaging doesn’t work after it’s been exposed. Expose it and don’t let anyone you know fall for it either.

  6. Don says:

    I need everyone to email this to friends@foxnews.com,email this out to your local media,and give the media hell for refusing to tell the truth about Mitt,but most importantly,tell the media to knock off the term “anyone but Romney” crap! This is so old now.

  7. ccr says:

    Fox, I believe, knows better. They choose to perpetuate the DNC rhetoric because it helps Fox with their “anyone but Romney” candidate they “highlight/promote/protect”. Murdoch, it doesn’t appear to me, is not that fond of Romney, perhaps because he know he can’t “help” him with a book deal in exchange for…….

    We need to email Fox………post this on their FB pages and ours. It would make great for a youtube ad……

    Romney fans can certainly call our Fox on their lack of “core” and integrity in their analysis.

    Truly it is disappointing in Baier…..but I’m not surprised, unfortunately!

  8. Wow 44 tweets on this post and counting. Lotta twitter love.

  9. Dean says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this! We need to spread this to other media outlets and conservative blogs because people have been giving Mitt a hard time about this since they didn’t have all the facts.

  10. bcollins says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone. It’s nice to get feedback.

  11. Ginny says:

    This should be published as well as sent to Bret Baier. Bret Baier seems fairly decent.

  12. PAULEE says:

    this needs to go viral….Please post this everywhere….e-mail to Rush, Levin, Beck…JOE Scarborough….all of them…..We must not wait…..time is not on our side….thanks…..

  13. stan says:

    Mr. Baier is unfortunately another one of those lazy liberal types that can not dig up his own facts. Very unlike FOX, unlike ORielly, unlike Hannity, or Krauthammer. He usually does a good job but this time he fell into the liberal trap. You can better Brett.

  14. ccr says:

    I’ve posted on Baier’s FB page.

  15. Annette says:

    The Bret Baier interview was unbelievable to me. Many of the Fox commentators (Laura Ingram for one) has stuck up for Bret saying that he was asking the questions that everyone wants answered and how could Romney be rude to such a nice person. Let me tell you Laura, Bret wasn’t a nice person in that interview. He took ads that falsely misrepresented Romney and asked them in a very accusatory way. I’ve always liked watching Fox and I am so disappointed in the hypocrisy that has surfaced during the Republican Primary. They stand by and act as though dishonest representation of Romney by the DNC is legitimate and hide the inconsistencies of Gingrich. Inconsistencies that are prompted for the most part for political gain.

  16. tharris says:

    @ccr
    Good job now let us get the word out to Governor Crusty an Pawlenty

  17. Helen Wells says:

    I 100% agree with the fact-checkers, and thank you for publishing this. And Joe Phelps, amen to what you wrote! How can we educate those at Fox? I think most of the opinion-makers and analysts are sure leaning Gingrich way, and it is very disappointing to show their colors when they say: “Fair and Balanced!”

  18. Linna says:

    Climate change – the MAIN thing Governor Romney said was:

    “I do NOT believe in Cap & Trade, as it kills business.”

    Rush Limbaugh played this clip on Romney and purposefully left off the second
    part of the statement, I DO NOT BELIEVE in CAP & TRADE IT KILLS BUSINESS.
    Romney said that he worked against Cap & Trade in Massachusetts awhen Governor.

    Why is the media, the left, GOP right trying to create flip flops for Romney? He’s out of DC businessman and is NOT a globalist … Newt and Perry are!

  19. Linna says:

    A person does not have to yell & scream to be strong. Newt is full of hot air, his history of discipline has been questioned everywhere! Can Newt even balance a check book?

    We need jobs! We need Governor Romney who is self assured, has class, a kind man who believes in charity (made $1 a year as Governor), is not in the race to rip off the government like Newt has done! His position on Pro Life was reached after thoughtful consideration for very valid reasons … are republicans this close minded that an ethical person can make credible decisions and be called a flip flop. They have nothing else on him — watch out for jumbo baggage big government Newt — who is NOT a conservative!!!!!

  20. zefi says:

    Cain drops in polls, numbers go to other man, both (shall I say three) of them experienced the same
    thing in the nineties . An ex adulterer in the oval office and a first lady who had an affair with a married man. Is this the kind of role model that we want our children see? Hypocracy is the buzz word here.
    Protect our children. They are not political ( pandering expediency etc) and they need a God fearing leader in the white house as their role model.

  21. ccr says:

    Laura Ingraham has been disappointing………

  22. Noelle says:

    When I saw this interview I thought that while it was not Romney’s best, it was more an example of the journalistic laziness that is permeating the media. They regurgitate the same information over and over again, they don’t bother to find out what is truth and what is not. Baier was a major let-down in that interview. He did not fulfill his responsibility as a journalist.

  23. Jon E. S. says:

    Brett must be still sour from Romney’s refusal to be interviewed earlier in the race. He did give the impression he was out to play “gotcha.” As for Laura Ingraham, whenever I see her (or Huckabee for that matter) on Fox I can’t change the channel fast enough.

  24. ChuckP says:

    I have known this information for years, but it is nice that at least some in the media are trying to get it right. However, if Romney supporters think that Fox or any other mainstream media outlet is going to jump up, apologize, and start trying to overcome the false perception that is now deeply imbedded in the minds of most Republican voters, we will be sorely disappointed. That will never happen.

    Mitt’s campaign must aggressively advertise to correct the perception. If he allows the flip-flopper tag to stick to him he will have an extremely difficult time winning.

  25. Abe in TX says:

    Whoa, fantastic point! Good thinking, going to fact check on this issue. And what a powerful blow this is to Bair and the other Romney-trashers.

  26. Seiko Tanner says:

    I am Japanese and my friends in Japan also support Mitt Romney!! Japan needs the strong leadership in America! Since America and Japan have been the strong allied nations, if Obama or New’t fight at the end and Obama wins, that will be a disaster :(

    Mitt Romney is intelligent, honest, and has integrity, humble family man!
    He has Character that no one has in the past history !!

    Mitt Romney has to win and HE WILL!

  27. Valery says:

    Dictators, like Gaddafi, Chavez, Fidel Castro. They have a intransingente ideology. A patriot president, is pragmatic.

  28. Valery says:

    Dictators, like Gaddafi, Chavez, Fidel Castro. It has an uncompromising ideology. A patriot president, is pragmatic.

    I want to win because I believe in you, believe in America.

    Accuse Mitt of not having an ideology, but: A dogmatic about following his ideology as his was the absolute truth and reality is turning into a copy of their ideology. (highlights, and contrast the advantages of being pragmatic) The pragmatic can have the same ideas, but do not try to change reality rather than what is possible, it adapts to the reality and pace of things.

  29. Dennis L Thompson says:

    Its easy to debunk the conspiracy theories of 911 with facts. But, I have real issues wondering what people like Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and many others seem to attack Romney on a daily basis. Why? Look at his 844 vetoes. He was up against a veto proof legislature that was very liberal. His 844v vetoes are a large amount. Rick Perry by contrast had an average of 27 a year. 211 a year for Mitt, and all on the conservative side. He vetoed the 8 things that are problem areas in the Massachusetts health care. He was overridden by the liberal legislature and then had to sign the bill. It is how the process works and somehow he is supposed to apologize? He did his part. I find nothing unconservative about Mitt Romney.
    He defunded sanctuary cities of illegals. He balanced a budget with no new taxes and in doing so he cut 341 social programs. He took the state from 50th in unemployment to 11th in one term. Real jobs. Not Government jobs. The list is long. What do you people want? Herman Cain who is horrible on foreign affairs? His 999 plan is contingent on something that does not have a chance, the repeal of the IRS. He is for affirmative action. He has no plan and has liberal stances. Newt Gingrich who co-authored the fairness doctrine? Has endorsed several really liberal republicans who have when in office hurt the country? How about his extremely weak stance on immigration. If people did some real research, Mitt Romney is the slam dunk candidate.

  30. bcollins says:

    Looks like the fact checkers are at it again. Today they debunk Rick Perry’s claim that Romney changed his book from advocating a national mandate to opposing a mandate. Rick Perry knows it’s a line of bologne, he is just desperate, grasping at straws.

  31. Flip flops on issues don’t bother me. We all make mistakes and as we learn from what happens and what has happned to others over time, we change our views and actions accordingly. When I was young my beliefs are a far cry from what they are now. In 2008 I voted for Romney against McCain because I was impressed with his words and apparent intellect. Unfortunately, from what I have been reading here, and all over this sight, when it comes to ‘divisive’ social issues and restoring the moral fabric of this country, I must conclude that in Romney we are getting the same old ‘big tent’ loser like Bob Dole and moderate George Bush. I conclude we are getting the same machine that brought us Harrison and Taft. A modern Chester Arthur or Teddy Roosevelt he is not. For if we are not ready to take care of the moral decay of society then we will not be able to tackle the moral decay of our nation with any effect.

  32. ccr says:

    @Michael, Mitt Romney is a very moral person but realizes the choice is an individual choice to tackle the moral decay of our nation.

    Mitt has principles which guide his life, and a fair evaluation of his history will bear that up. Mitt loves our country and believes in the Divine hand of Providence in its history….and its future.

    I totally disagree that we would be getting a “big tent” loser. Mitt is a fiscal, pragmatic conservative who also has outstanding personal traits that will bless our country.

  33. @ccr
    He reminds me of Nixon with his ‘pragmatism’. As for saving our Republic, Cato the Younger of Ancient Rome could also be called a ‘Fiscal Pragmatic Conservative’. He tried to save the Republic of Rome by trying to set a moral example by displaying his noble character to inspire others while tolerating its corruption. History shows us what happened. Whether it be Dishonesty, Gluttony, Drug abuse, wanton materialism or all forms of sexual depravity Society is just too ‘tolerant’. That has to stop. As for comparing me to the Prohibition crowd, well I don’t share the humanist view that all people are basicly good and only need bad influences like Demon Rum or Handguns be removed to make us a society of saints, most people are rodents by nature and need right and wrong harshly spelled out in the coldest of terms with consequences most clear. Our society is a mess, dying from its own corruption, rotting from within. We need action at every level. All evil is an act of choice and today those who make that choice suffer no consequence while those around them do along with society itself.

    Indeed, if we get into Welfare Reform, I would like to bring back the old Poor House or Work House system rather than the current system of Big Government Burocracy and huge social payments for here is a low cost quality means of taking care of the less fortunate which takes care of them without coddling and encouraging those who can to get their acts together and get back to work to do so without pauperizing the taxpayer.

  34. Every American should see the details of this article!

  35. Helen Wells says:

    How can we get this back to Brett Baier? Someone ought to do it—how about you, Vic?

  36. @Helen Wells I am sure he has somebody reading this sight on a routine basis.

    Frankly, I would like to see what Romney has to say about this nation’s space program. I haven’t found anything here about it. Maybe I am overlooking something. Personally, I believe this nation and people must seek their destiny in space through not just exploration but colonization like the late Gerard K. O’Neall envisioned.

  37. Helen Wells and others interested in making a big difference:

    Send a bunch of e-mails to fox people including Bret? Here’s the contact info provided by our Rebel Ross. Be sure to include the URL of bcollns’ article so they have the reference back here.

    http://ultimitt.org/index1.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=0&func=view&id=13392&catid=68

  38. Rebel Ross says:

    Anybody else enjoy Bret Baier’s pathetic attempts to do math on the air during the Iowa Caucus coverage?

  39. I don’t pay attention to these clowns on the news media. I get my news on the internet.

    Frankly, if anybody should be speaking, it has to be Romney. If a lamb like Rick Santorum is capable of bighting so close, he really has to work on getting conservatives to believe he really is conservative. He really has to say Obomacare is dead when he gets the Job of President. He really has to say the Military is no place for Social Experimentation. He really has to go beyond saying he believes Marriage is one man married to one woman, he has also got to say they can’t be brother and sister, and;he has got to make it absolutely clear that no other form will be allowed to be like marriage in everything or anyting but name. He should also demand with adoption laws that parents should be a mother and a father.

    He also has to get across that Government is too big and needs to be cut down a couple of gun decks. He needs to make it perfectly clear that the best Ship of State is a Razzee. He nees to make it clear we need to do away with such groups as the department of ‘education’. We really need to do major cuts and stop wasting the people’s hard earned money on supporting useless government supporters. Government should not be a jobs program. He also has to get back to welfare reform for the same reason.

    He needs to understand these things.

    As for People like Bret Baier, learn what I have learned, there is no getting along with them. Romney should stop complaining and be more and more Conservative, move solidly to the Right and be so conservative that these news people will be so angry, so ugly and so openly liberal that most Americans will simply turn them off rather than listen.

  40. Helen Wells says:

    Thanks for the contact info.@Vic Lundquist