Chrysler managers may have been surprised when they read news accounts of a Mitt Romney campaign appearance in Defiance, Ohio. Apparently, Governor Romney had gotten word of an impending corporate move even corporate officials didn't know about.
I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America, I'm going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it's fair, America will win.
- - Mitt Romney, October 25, 2012
So, that same day, Chrysler put out a clarification, pretty much repeating what they had been saying all along. No Jobs would be moved to China from the United States.
In fact, the company had already announced that 1,100 new jobs would be added in the United States, just to build more Jeep Grand Cherokees.
They were happy about increasing world demand for Jeep SUVs. They sensed some opportunities to sell more in China. So, on the possibility that more SUVs could be sold in China, the company was looking into how to put a Jeep factory in China in order to build those new SUVs.
The Chrysler statement seemed to express some frustration with those "unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments."
So was it a lie?
Well, it was a falsehood. But a lie, to be a lie, pretty much has to be intentional. At least that's the way most folks look at it. For example, Stephanie Cutter, on behalf of the Obama campaign, passed on information to the press about the tragic deaths of an American ambassador and diplomatic workers in Benghazi, as it came from US intelligence sources. The main thrust of that information was wrong. So she told a falsehood. Was it a lie?
Even Presidential candidates can get their facts wrong from time to time. A stray comment about automobile production could be based on sloppy staff work. And you only have to look at Mitt Romney's foreign trip to see that his staff can have unfortunate experiences with factual fidelity.
Mitt Romney may have been handed a staff summary of a poorly written article appearing in the usually top notch Bloomberg Press. It starts off referring to a revival of Jeep production that had been closed down in China. One subsidiary of Chrysler "plans to return Jeep output to China" and "may eventually make all of its models in that country"
Only a few paragraphs later does the article mention that Chrysler itself is expanding and expanding and expanding production in the United States. After discussion of targets for sales of half a million vehicles outside the United States, and a more than tripling of production, comes this: "Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China."
Okay, so if a staffer had just looked at the headline, "Fiat Says Jeep Output May Return to China as Demand Rises" and scanned the first few sentences, the Governor could have been handed a note saying that Jeep was moving everything to China. Pretty scary news that he would want to relay to his audience.
And if we're going to say Stephanie Cutter wasn't lying when she passed on information as she got it, can we cut Governor Romney some slack for prematurely reacting to false information passed on to him by his staff?
I mean, Chrysler quickly issued a press release correcting Governor Romney, although with some pointed comments about fantasies. Countless news programs reported that Romney was wrong, wrong. So no harm, no foul, and most important, no lie.
There is no lie if the falsehood is unintentional, regardless of the corporation's irritation with the Romney misstatement.
On Saturday, after the false Romney statement, after the Chrysler public statement, after the news reports. Now comes a campaign advertisement paid for by the Romney campaign, now being run on television in Ohio:
Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.
It ends with "I'm Mitt Romney. And I approved this message."
Okay, I give up. It's a deliberate lie.
Just throw it on that huge pile over there.
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