Local News Outlets Help Push Bogus "Build That" Attack Against Obama

››› ››› MIKE BURNS & MARCUS FELDMAN

Local news outlets have helped push the dishonest narrative that President Obama's "you didn't build that" comments were an attack on small business owners while promoting Mitt Romney's resulting "We Did Build This" events. Local outlets also repeatedly failed to play the crucial missing context of Obama's remarks, which made it clear that he was promoting the importance of public investment in infrastructure to the success of small businesses.

Right-Wing Media Build Dishonest Anti-Business Narrative By Deceptively Editing Obama's Comments 

Right-Wing Media Dishonestly Edit Obama's "Build That" Comments To Portray Him As Anti-Business. During a July 13 appearance in Virginia, Obama argued that while small business owners' individual talents and drive allow them to attain their own portion of the American dream, community support and public investment contributes to small business' success. Conservatives quickly jumped on the remarks, editing out crucial context to make it seem as though he was suggesting business owners didn't deserve any credit for their success. [Media Matters7/26/12] 

Romney Campaign Adopts "Build That" Attacks With Battleground-State Events 

Romney Campaign Holds 24 Events To Attack Obama Over Deceptively Edited "You Didn't Build That" Remarks. ABC News reported that Romney's campaign held "24 events across 12 battleground states Wednesday all trying to take advantage of" Obama's deceptively edited "you didn't build that" remarks. From ABC News: 

Mitt Romney may be overseas, but his campaign is definitely not taking a pause, holding 24 events across 12 battleground states Wednesday all trying to take advantage of comments the president made last week. 

The Romney campaign has been heavily pressing their "you didn't build that" attacks for the past ten days and Wednesday is their biggest push yet with events with small business owners in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada. 

Speaking in Roanoke, Virginia, earlier this month, the president stressed the importance of community as well as continued government investments in infrastructure and public services that many businesses in this country utilize. 

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," Obama said. "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." 

Republicans pounced on the words "you didn't build that" singling them out and claiming that Obama was speaking directly to business owners about their accomplishments, and that focus continues Wednesday. [ABC News, 7/25/12

Local News Outlets Ape Romney's "We Did Build This" Events, Ignore Full Context Of Obama's Remarks 

Greenville, NC, CBS Affiliate WNCT Reports That Obama's Remarks "Riled Up His Opponents," Plays Out-Of-Context Remarks. During the July 25 edition of Greenville, North Carolina, CBS affiliate WNCT's Eyewitness 9 News at 5, co-anchors Amanda Goodman and Rich Klindworth reported that Obama's remarks have "riled up his opponents." The show aired Obama's remarks in their out-of-context form. From Eyewitness 9 News at 5

AMANDA GOODMAN: There's been a lot of back and forth between President Obama and Mitt Romney over job creation. 

RICH KLINDWORTH: It's something the president has focused on, but a statement he made earlier this month has riled up his opponents, including a restaurant owner here in our state. Kim Genardo explains. 

GERNARDO: The busy lunch hour for Snoopy's Hotdogs, but it was over dinner when co-owner Larry Cerilli said he took offense to this comment. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA [video clip]: If you've got a business, you didn't build that. 

CERILLI (small business owner): I looked at my wife and I looked at my partner -- we were having dinner -- and I dropped my jaw, and he had his jaw dropped and we couldn't believe what he had just said. 

GERNARDO: Cerilli says he was insulted, so the business owners sent this message: Mr. Obama, I did create this business. Webb opened the business 34 years ago with six grand. Cerilli joined in six years ago. 

CERILLI: This business has been the hardest it's ever been. There's no one to fall back on. 

GENARDO: And he has 75 employees to pay. Cerilli says sales have dropped over the past 3 years. 

CERILLI: A person that can afford a $5 lunch today maybe is saving his money and bringing his own lunch tomorrow. 

GENARDO: So let's drive over to Cary to a Democratic business owner's place and see what he thinks about the president's comments. 

TODD McGowan (small business owner): Leadership is about we, not me, and so I really understood it to be: You've got to be part of a great community, and to have a great business you rely on a great society. 

GENARDO: Todd McGowan employees 110 people in his auto-body repair shops. He's a registered Democrat supporting the president's reelection. Back to Cerilli -- he's a hundred percent behind Mitt Romney, but his message to the president is down. 

CERILLI: It was a kneejerk reaction that I'm glad I did. It was an answer to -- we did create this business, and we're insulted, and I stand by it. 

[...] 

GOODMAN: The Romney camp is running with this, tweeting out pictures of the sign, holding press conferences with small business owners. [WNCT, Eyewitness 9 News at 57/25/12, via Media Matters] 

Harrisburg, PA, Fox Affiliate WPMT: "In A Speech Defending The Government's Role In Helping Out Entrepreneurs, Obama Said, 'If You Have A Business, You Didn't Build It.' " During the July 26 edition of WPMT's Fox43 Morning News at 6, a report highlighted Mitt Romney supporters rallying at the Pennsylvania State Capitol  and "protesting recent statements made by President Obama." WPMT then reported on Obama's comments out of context. From Fox43 Morning News at 6

WPMT REPORTER: Supporters rallied for Mitt Romney at the state capitol yesterday, protesting recent statements made by President Obama. In a speech defending the government's role in helping out entrepreneurs, Obama said, "If you have a business, you didn't build it." So these small business owners, holding up signs that say "We did build this." 

DAVID BROOKE RUSH (small business owner): Regulatory policy should instead focus on providing real outcomes, not punishing businesses for failing to meet unreasonable standards. 

ROB TEPLITZ (Obama supporter): The fact is that if anyone believes that President Obama isn't fighting for small businesses and taxpayers and middle-class families, then I've got a bridge in the Cayman Islands to sell you. 

WPMT REPORTER: President Obama just left Louisiana after a day of campaigning yesterday, and today Mitt Romney's overseas meeting with British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron in London. [WPMT, Fox43 Morning News at 67/26/12, via Media Matters] 

Altoona, PA, CBS Affiliate WTAJ: "The Romney Bus Tour Takes Aim At President Obama's Anti-Business Stance." During the July 25 edition of Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania, CBS-affiliate WTAJ's WTAJ News at 11, anchor Carolyn Donaldson reported on the Romney campaign's bus tour, claiming they were taking "aim at President Obama's anti-business stance." Donaldson failed to include the full context of Obama's remarks. From WTAJ News at 11

CAROLYN DONALDSON (anchor): The Romney bus tour takes aim at President Obama's anti-business stance. Nearly two weeks ago on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama made the comment, quote, "If you've got a business, you didn't build it. Somebody else made it happen," end quote. Well, the Romney bus tour made a stop outside the Ebensburg courthouse Wednesday in Cambria County, taking aim at the president and that statement with this saying, quote, "Mr. President, I built this," meaning these local business owners didn't use or get taxpayer money to keep its doors open. 

ROB GLEASON (Chairman, Republican Party): This was an insult to businessmen across the country who worked very hard to create businesses and had really no help at all from the federal government. In fact, the federal government impedes the growth of many, many businesses.

EDWARD J. CERNIC SR. (State Transportation Commission): [unintelligible] Because every business had to make a profit, if you can't make a profit you can't stay in business. 

DONALDSON: With four months until the election, polls show only a few points separate President Obama and Mitt Romney, and the economy is the primary focus. [WTAJ, WTAJ News at 11, 7/25/12, via Media Matters]  

West Palm Beach, FL, ABC Affiliate WPBF: Romney Supporters Using Obama's "You Didn't Build That" Comment As "A Rallying Cry." During the July 25 edition of WPBF's News at 11, anchor Tiffany Kenney reported that Romney supporters are using Obama's "you didn't build that" comment as "a rallying cry." Kenney noted that "Obama supporters say the comment was taken out of context," but failed to provide any of the relevant context. From WPBF's News at 11

TIFFANY KENNEY: Romney supporters are using a comment President Obama made as a rallying cry. Local business owners and others gathered at Romney's West Palm Beach office today. They sounded off about that comment the president made in Virginia. Quote, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." Obama supporters say the comment was taken out of context. But Romney supporters say it shows the president lack of understanding and commitment to success of the small business owner. [WPBF, WPBF 25 News at 117/25/12, via Media Matters]  

Raleigh, NC, ABC Affiliate WTVD 11 Airs Obama Anti-Business Segment, Neglects Critical Context. During the July 25 edition of WTVD's ABC 11, co-anchor Barbara Gibbs reported that "business owners across the country are angry over the president's comments that 'if you got a business you didn't build that.'" The segment proceeded to interview business owners and a former North Carolina GOP chairman who denounced Obama's comments on small business made at a campaign rally in Roanoke, Virginia. The full context of Obama's remarks, however, was not included in the segment. From WTVD: 

JOHN CLARK (co-anchor): First at noon, local business owners speaking out against comments made by President Obama. Good afternoon, everyone. From the Raleigh Avenue News Center, I'm John Clark. 

GIBBS: And I'm Barbara Gibbs. Thank you for joining us. Business owners across the country are angry over the president's comments that "If you got a business you didn't build that." This morning, dozens rallied at Snoopy's Hot Dogs on Wake Forest Road in Raleigh, and that's where we find Jon Camp live. Jon, this has really hit home with a lot of people. 

JON CAMP (correspondent): It absolutely has. This is the sign that has gotten all the attention: "Mr. Obama I did create this business," signed by business founder Steve Web. It has gotten so much attention, in fact, that the Romney campaign decided to park a big Romney bus right here this morning and use this as a backdrop to one of its 24 "We Did Build This" rallies in the 12 swing states. 

JUAN PONCE (business owner): It's almost like someone just slapped me in the face and my father, and now he's a liar. That it wasn't me that built this company. 

VOICE OVER: Business owner Juan Ponce was one of a few here in Raleigh who joined others across the country to affirm that they did build their own businesses. 

TOM FETZER (Former NC GOP chair): This is what he said, unedited. 

VOICEOVER: Former state Republican Party Chair Tom Fetzer read the president's speech word for word to underscore no one here was taking it out of context. 

FETZER: "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own." 

VOICEOVER: But it's these words that got so many Americans so offended. 

FETZER: "If you got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." 

LARRY CERILLI (business owner): I didn't take it out of context. I think, I think it was a jab. I don't know why. 

VOICE OVER: Larry Cerilli owns two Snoopy's restaurants. The president's speech prompting him and co-owner Steve Webb to put up the sign that's gotten so much attention. 

CERILLI: I wouldn't have put the sign up, I wouldn't have taken a stance if it didn't hit that hard. And that's the president of the United States; I think he should know better than that. I think he should understand how hard we work. 

CAMP: The Obama campaign has come out swinging, talking about all the tax incentives and tax cuts that he has put in place for small businesses. But that's just not doing much for Larry Cerilli, for instance, who says that those tax cuts didn't help him build his business; rather, he did it on his own. We're going to have a lot more on this over the course of the day. Stay with us for it. For now, I'm Jon Camp live in Raleigh, ABC 11 Eyewitness News. 

GIBBS: Jon, thank you. [WTVD, ABC 11, 7/25/12, via YouTube] 

Altoona, PA, CBS Affiliate, WTAJ: "The Romney Bus Tour Takes Aim At What He Calls President Obama's Anti-Business Stance." During the July 26 edition of WTAJ News this Morning, co-anchor Angie Koehle reported on Romney's bus tour "tak[ing] aim at what he calls President Obama's anti-business stance." Koehle then repeated Obama's out-of-context remarks. From WTAJ News this Morning:

ANGIE KOEHLE (anchor): Well, the Romney bus tour takes aim at what he calls President Obama's anti-business stance. Nearly two weeks ago on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama made the comment, "If you've got a business, you didn't build it. Someone else made it happen." Well, the Romney tour made a stop outside of the Ebensburg courthouse Wednesday, taking aim at the president with a saying, "Mr. President, I built this," meaning these local business owners didn't use or get taxpayer money to keeps its doors open. [WTAJ, WTAJ News this Morning7/26/12, via Media Matters]

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