The fact-checking website Politifact.com has awarded Mitt Romney (remember him?) its not-so-coveted “Lie of the Year” award for 2012.
It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign — that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China. It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep’s parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.
And they stood by the claim, even as the media and the public expressed collective outrage against something so obviously false.
Fortunately it was one political lie that actually backfired.
People often say that politicians don’t pay a price for deception, but this time was different: A flood of negative press coverage rained down on the Romney campaign, and he failed to turn the tide in Ohio, the most important state in the presidential election.
It’s not that President Obama and his campaign team were above falsehoods, either. Their TV ads distorted Romney’s positions on abortion and immigration to make them seem more extreme than they actually were. A pro-Obama super PAC even created an ad suggesting Romney was responsible for a woman’s death when her husband lost his job at a Bain-controlled company.
But the Jeep ad was brazenly false.
It started as a line in a speech about where an American brand of car would be made. It blew up into a lie heard by voters well beyond Ohio.