Politifact calls Romney Jeep ad ‘Lie of the Year’

The ad claimed Chrysler was moving production of its Jeep brand to China. Romney also repeated the claim on the campaign trail.

The fact-checker Politifact said Chrysler's chairman quickly refuted the story by saying Jeep would not be shifting production from North America. Yet Romney then repeated the claim on the campaign trail in the final weeks before the election. 

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“It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood,” Politifact said Wednesday. “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.”

The ad, called “Who Will Do More,” was intended to counter Democratic attacks on Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout, but it backfired when the company publicly rejected the claim.

"Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce," Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri wrote in a blog post.

"It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

 Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China," he continued. "It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments."

Politifact said its decision to crown the ad “Lie of the Year” was influenced as much by the backlash as by the falsehood.

“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.”