A slew of major media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and CNN reported on a speech that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave on May 31 in front of the shuttered offices of Solyndra, the California-based solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt after taking a $535 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy — but they all failed to check on whether what Romney said in his speech was true. Referring to Solyndra’s government loan, Romney said, “An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the [Obama] administration had steered money to friends & family, to campaign contributors. This building — the half a billion dollar taxpayer investment — represents a serious conflict of interest on the part of the President and his team. It’s also a symbol of how the President thinks about free enterprise. Free enterprise to the President means taking money form the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.” But Romney’s statements are a bald-faced, easily-verifiable lie and it took days for the major media covering the speech to fact-check Romney’s statements after media watchdogs called them out. Romney was apparently referring to the March 17, 2011 testimony before Congress of DOE Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman (pdf) in which Friedman cited 64 then- ongoing investigations related to stimulus contracts. Friedman said the DOE at the time had 64 open investigations associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the President’s stimulus act. He said those investigations “include the submission of false information in applications for funding, fraudulent claims for rebates, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, the directing of contracts and grants to friends and family, weatherization fraud to include mischarging, and other attempts to fraudulently obtain Recovery Act funds.” But Friedman never cited Solyndra as being among these investigations, and his office never pursued charges against anyone related to the misdirection of any contracts or grants to friends and family. A spokesperson for the DOE’s Inspector General said the agency never arrived at the kind of conclusion that Romney gave in his speech. What did Romney do after he finally got called on his lie? He not only failed to retract it, but continued running a political attack ad based on his false assertion.
Source (finally reporting on Romney’s lie instead of perpetuating it): CNN Finance, June 4, 2012