Fox Defends Romney By Mischaracterizing His "47 Percent" Remarks
Conservative Media Tries To Spin Romney's Comments As Electoral MathSeptember 18, 2012 2:07 PM EDT ››› JUSTIN BERRIER
After Mother Jones released video of Mitt Romney's controversial comments about 47 percent of the voting public, Fox News defended him, suggesting that Romney made an accurate statement about voting preferences while downplaying the other parts of his remarks. In the video, Romney also attacked supporters of President Obama as "dependent on government" and unwilling to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Since the video's release, Fox News has ignored most of what Romney said to donors in Florida, focusing only on his comments involving the "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed "if you see the context of what he says," Romney was "saying 'I don't know if I can convince those people to ever vote for me' but it'll be posed as 'I don't care about those people.'" Later in the program, co-host Gretchen Carlson complained that the "headline throughout the day" would not be "the actual mathematical points that he makes."
But Romney's remarks were about more than who might vote for him. In the video, he disparages Obama supporters, describing them as people "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them." Romney concluded by saying "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney's comments reflect a "truly extreme version of a theory that's widespread on the right":
Democrats are trying to encourage dependency on government for the explicit purpose of enlarging the pool of voters who can be relied upon to vote Democratic for the rest of their lives, in order to preserve the government handouts they enjoy.
In Romney's telling, all of these 47 percent of voters are complicit in this arrangement. As a result, there is no hope of ever persuading them to take personal responsibility for their lives. He seems to be conflating the government-dependency conspiracy theory with another right wing meme -- the complaint that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. Put those together and you arrive at Romney's formulation.
In a post on Bloomberg, Josh Barro described the video as Romney having been "caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers":
The really disastrous thing is the clip about "victims," and the combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn't going to vote for him.
Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are. This video provides an answer: He feels that you're a loser. It's not an answer that wins elections.