The Washington Post story on Friday concerning outsourcing and the Obama team’s decision to seize upon the theme of shipping jobs out of the country were, unfortunately for the left-wing blogosphere, off-base.
American Enterprise Institute’s Jim Pethokoukis (who has been a respected business reporter for years) untangles the facts and clarifies some language, going through each of the examples in The Post’s story.
What about the allegation that a Bain company, Corporate Software Inc (CSI), was part of a job outsourcing? It wasn’t. Pethokoukis explains:
What CSI actually did was provide U.S. software developers with technical support and sales. Example: It provided domestic outsourcing — which is different than overseas offshoring — for call centers and help desks. As far as its international business goes, CSI was reseller of U.S. software in European markets. In other words, they helped distribute U.S. software around the world. . . . Those overseas call centers in the WaPo story were based in Europe and Japan, and serviced international customers of U.S. companies in their local languages.
You see, there were no jobs in the U.S. that were “sent” anywhere. This was a U.S.company with contractors and distributors overseas. The jobs were never in the United States and couldn’t be for legitimate business reasons.
In two other examples: “Again, what Modus Media did was help companies like Microsoft and IBM sell their products internationally. Products destined for American consumers were manufactured here at home. . . . Turns out GT Bicycles had overseas suppliers before Bain invested in the company. The story doesn’t outright suggest Bain moved jobs overseas, but it does lead readers to make that erroneous leap for themselves.” (In a follow-up post Pethokoukis details the GT Bicycles case, making clear that this was an international company with pre-existing oeprations outside the U.S. He scoffed at the idea that “if Romney and Bain invest in a company that a) has overseas operations or b) expands overseas operations or c) is purchased by a company that previous moved manufacturing operations overseas, it somehow means Romnay and Bain were stealing jobs from America.”)
And so it goes. Pethokoukis concludes:
Some more accurate options [for the story headline]:
– “Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that expanded overseas jobs overseas after he left”
– ”Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that had international employees before it bought them”
– “Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that created foreign call centers to deal with foreign customers”
Another reporter reached the same conclusion in debunking President Obama's deputy campaign manager, who parroted inaccurate assertions about sending jobs overseas.
Frankly, these are complicated transactions and require some very precise language to avoid false impressions.It is a tactical mistake if the Romney camp doesn't help disabuse reporters of their erroneous conclusions. It is in Mitt Romney’s interest to prevent confusion, not let reporters get tangled up in misunderstanding. Sloppy reporting isn’t something to aid and abet.
We come back to the central problem for the Obama camp and its left-wing spinners: Neither group understands this stuff very well, so they make error after error until their credibility is nil. The more they hit and miss, the more one comes away with the sense that Romney’s “sterling reputation,” as Bill Clinton put it, was well earned.