Two other Blade stories this week addressed the Obama campaign’s response (with its own TV ad) to Romney’s ad. The first story, from Monday, quoted Romney’s ad saying Chrysler “plans to return Jeep output to China,” but missed the chance to explain that this is not a shift of existing US jobs but an expansion of production in China for Chinese consumers. The short follow up Tuesday was largely a rehash of the previous story, with back-and-forth between the campaigns. Not particularly helpful. (Maybe some confused Blade readers also caught the “Pants on Fire” rating that PolitiFact gave to Romney’s ad and that ran in the Plain Dealer on Tuesday?)
One bright spot: yesterday, Blade business writer Tyrel Linkhorn wrote a clear account of how, in Linkhorn’s words, “Chrysler’s plans for expanding the Jeep brand got sucked into the political tornado whirling about the auto industry last week.” Linkhorn’s story, hooked to the email that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent to employees on Tuesday reaffirming that the automaker is not moving US Jeep production to China, managed to avoid many of the pitfalls in earlier Blade coverage (including he said, she said framing and repetition of misleading claims without context and clarification). Also clear? Today’s Blade editorial decrying Romney’s “exercise in deception about auto-industry issues that is remarkable even by the standards of his campaign.”
The auto industry is clearly key to both candidates’ closing arguments in the all-important state of Ohio. Reporters here need to cut through—not contribute—to the confusion. Candidates may be betting against that, but readers are counting on it.
TC Brown contributed reporting to this post.