You lie! That's the message Politifact sent Mitt Romney today in billboard-size letters, proclaiming the defeated GOP candidate's controversial Jeep ad the "lie of the year." The commercial claimed that President Obama had "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China" — all at the cost of American jobs. The false claim was furiously refuted by the Obama campaign, numerous media outlets, and Chrysler itself. At the time, Politifact gave the ad a "pants on fire" rating. The Washington Post said it was worth four Pinocchios. Yet the Romney campaign — which famously said it would not "be dictated by fact-checkers" — refused to take the ad down. Watch it for yourself:
Of course, in a victory for the truth, the ad backfired on Romney, underscoring his opposition to the auto bailouts and cementing the impression that he would say anything to get elected.
But was it really the lie of the year? There were some serious contenders for the top prize, like Paul Ryan's tearful story about how Obama's policies failed to save a General Motors plant in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wis. Or Harry Reid's completely unsubstantiated claim, repeated with venomous glee, that Romney hadn't paid any taxes over a 10-year period. And as Politifact's Angie Drobnic Holan notes, Obama didn't exactly behave like Honest Abe:
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 is the fourth time that Politifact has awarded a lie of the year. In 2011, it was the Democratic claim that Republicans had voted to end Medicare. In 2010, the notion, still widely held, that ObamaCare is a government takeover of the health care system. And in 2009, it was that ObamaCare would create death panels, a Sarah Palin gem.