Mitt Romney's reported strategy to make nice with Fox News might be paying dividends, especially now that Romney's campaign faces increasing scrutiny over his jobs record while at the helm of leveraged buyout firm Bain Capital.
During an exclusive interview with Romney tonight, Bill O'Reilly simply ignored the issue, asking not one question about the former Massachusetts governor's jobs record during his tenure at Bain. O'Reilly remained silent despite the fact that Romney himself touted his role "leading an organization," and "hiring people" and "firing people."
Earlier that day, an Associated Press article had reported on "the human toll" extracted from Bain Capital under Romney's leadership, as plants were closed, employees were fired, and "Bain walked away with millions in profits."
Romney's record wringing profits out of companies through layoffs came under scrutiny during a December 16 GOP candidates debate in Iowa that was moderated by Fox News. Romney foreshadowed what he saw as likely attacks on his record at Bain, saying:
ROMNEY: I think it's a great opportunity for us. Because I think the president is going to level the same attack. He's going to go after me and say, you know, you -- in businesses that you've invested in, they didn't all succeed. Some failed. Some laid people off. And he'll be absolutely right. But if you look at all the businesses we invested in, over 100 different businesses, they added tens of thousands of jobs.
AP's reporting cast down on that narrative, focusing on Bain's late 1980s investment in two companies that became known as the Holson Burnes Group:
A review by The Associated Press of financial and regulatory documents in the case of Holson Burnes contrasts with statements Romney has made during his presidential campaign about his success creating jobs in the private sector. It shows how Bain, then headed by Romney, wrung profits out of the company by slashing costs and trimming its work force.
These questions come to the forefront just as Romney begins to engage the media in what has been described as a Fox-centered strategy.
As The New York Times reported:
"This is a time for me making my case -- you are going to see me all over the country, particularly in early primary states," Mr. Romney told [Fox News host Neil] Cavuto. "I will be on Fox a lot, because you guys matter when it comes to Republican primary voters. I want them to hear my message and have an opportunity to make their choice."
Mr. Romney has not always had as warm a relationship with Fox News as many of his Republican rivals have, some of whom were Fox News contributors until they began their presidential runs. But there are signs in recent weeks that he has been trying to make nice with the network.
A search of the Nexis database reveals that Romney has granted four Fox News interviews this month. To his credit, Chris Wallace did press Romney on his jobs record at Bain during a recent appearance on Fox News Sunday.But in three other interviews -- conducted by Greta Van Susteren, Neil Cavuto, and O'Reilly -- Romney's days at Bain went unmentioned.