The Republican convention has adopted the Fox-fueled distortion of President Obama's remarks on business owners. The conservative media narrative behind the theme has been undermined by independent fact-checkers, public funding for the convention's host site, and a key convention speaker's business record with the government.
Fox Distorted Obama's Comments To Manufacture Outrage Over "You Didn't Build That"
Fox & Friends Deceptively Edited Obama's Comments On Business. Fox deceptively edited remarks Obama made at a July speech in Virginia to make it seem as though he was claiming that business owners do not deserve any credit for their own success. Obama's actual remarks made clear that he attributed the success of businesses to both the individual drive of business owners and to the benefits provided by influences such as great teachers, and government-created infrastructure. [Media Matters, 7/16/12]
Within Two Days, Fox Spent More Than Two Hours Of Airtime On "You Didn't Build That" Lie. In the two days that followed Fox's initial misrepresentation of Obama's remarks, the network devoted 42 segments and more than two hours of airtime to misrepresenting Obama's "you didn't build that" remarks. [Media Matters, 7/18/12]
Rupert Murdoch Endorsed The Falsehood On Twitter. In a post to his Twitter account, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox parent company News Corp., wrote: "Yesterday Obama went off script, showed real self ie government omnipotent, individuals secondary. Must be big damage." [Media Matters, 7/19/12]
Fox Attacked Nonpartisan Journalists For Ignoring The Made-Up Story. Fox blasted mainstream media outlets for not covering Obama's remarks for four days, despite the fact that the remarks were ripped out of context. [Media Matters, 7/19/12]
Fox & Friends Tried To Rebut Charge That Video Was Deceptively Edited With New Deceptively Edited Video. Fox & Friends subsequently offered to rebut assertions that they had misrepresented Obama by showing the context of Obama's remarks. But the new clip that Fox & Friends played still omitted the relevant context. [Media Matters, 7/25/12]
Fox Hosted Karl Rove To Discuss His Super PAC's Anti-Obama Attack Ad Repeating "Didn't Build That" Falsehood. American Crossroads, a super PAC co-founded by Fox News contributor Karl Rove, produced an ad based on the misrepresentation of Obama's remarks. Fox hosted Rove to tout the ad on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. [Media Matters, 7/26/12]
Independent Fact-Checkers Have Debunked The "You Didn't Build That" Narrative. The Washington Post, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and the Associated Press have all criticized the distortion of President Obama's remark. [Media Matters, 8/21/12]
Republicans Adopt The Distortion As A Convention Theme
"We Built It" Theme Based On Distortion Of Obama's Remarks. From an August 21 press release on the 2012 Republican National Convention website:
Promising that Tuesday's convention theme "will honor the fact that it is the drive, determination and sacrifice of America's job creators and millions of hard-working American men and women who made the United States the exceptional nation it is," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus today announced that Tuesday's theme for the 2012 Republican National Convention will be "We Built It."
At a campaign rally in Roanoke, Virginia, last month, President Obama declared, "if you've got a business, you didn't build that." Priebus said that Tuesday's convention proceedings "will remind America that we are a nation made great not by Washington but by the men and women who summoned the inner drive, discipline and persistent effort to achieve their dreams within the free enterprise system." [GOPConvention2012.com, 8/21/12]
Fox Coverage Of "You Didn't Build That" Spikes Following Announcement Of GOP Convention Theme. After the convention theme announcement, references to Obama's comment spiked drastically on Fox News, while other cable news networks mentioned the deceptively edited comments significantly less. [Media Matters, 8/27/12]
Key RNC Speaker Received Millions Of Dollars In Federal Loans And Contracts
Speaker's Company Profited Enormously From Government Funds. Delaware Lt. Gov. candidate and small business owner Sher Valenzuela is slated to deliver a speech about small business issues on the day that "We Built It" is the convention's primary theme. Valenzuela's company, First State Manufacturing, has received more than $2 million in federal loans and more than $15 million in federal contracts. [Media Matters, 8/23/12]
Valenzuela Urged Others To Seek Government Contracts. Valenzuela has stated that government assistance was a vital factor in the success of her company and even gave a presentation on her small business success, crediting the use of "millions of dollars in secure government contracts." The presentation notes that small business owners should start with a "secret weapon" -- the "no-cost/low-cost resources that you, the taxpayer, have already paid for." [Media Matters, 8/23/12]
RNC Convention Site Is Publicly Financed And Publicly Owned
Tampa Bay Times Forum Is Publicly Financed. The 2012 Republican National Convention is being hosted at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, an arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was financed by the public. The Forum was reportedly majority-financed using more than $80 million in city and county bonds backed in part by taxes, with additional funding from the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team. [Media Matters, 8/22/12]
Government Spending Has Helped Republican Convention
GOP Convention Received $18,248,300 From Presidential Election Campaign Fund. According to the Federal Election Commission, Republicans and Democrats received public grants of $18,248,300 each through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for their 2012 conventions. [Media Matters, 8/22/12]
GOP Convention Received $50 Million In Federal Money For Security. The host sites have received $50 million each in federal grants for convention security. The Tampa grant money is reportedly being spent on "extra police, technology, vehicles, uniforms and gear." [Media Matters, 8/22/12]
City Of Tampa Spent Money On Local Projects Surrounding Convention. The Associated Press reported that in preparation for the Republican convention the "city of Tampa is spending $2.7 million in beautification projects, mostly landscaping around the gateways leading into downtown. New trees, shrubs and flowers are sprouting up everywhere, including Florida's signature tropical symbol, the palm tree. Even St. Petersburg -- located across Tampa Bay -- put up a new sign with the city's name along an interstate." [Associated Press, 8/10/12; Media Matters, 8/22/12]