Fishy fact checks are common at PolitiFact, but the stench this time comes from a less common source: The key quotation is missing from the story.
PolitiFact (bold emphasis added):
Mitt Romney likes to draw a straight line between environmental regulations and the jobs they cost. That was the thrust of his statement at a Frankenmuth, Mich., campaign event on June 19, 2012. Romney said Oklahoma lost out on a plant that Dow Chemical ended up building in Saudi Arabia.
Citing a conversation he'd had with a person from Dow, Romney told his audience at a business roundtable, "They said they couldn't rely on the natural gas here given the environmental regulation and whether it would be an abundant supply and reliable or not."
Upon investigation, perhaps we get no quotation because that gives the reader too much information.
A video of the roundtable is available at electad.com. Romney makes the comments PolitiFact found interesting at about the 12:45 mark of the video. My transcript follows (bold emphasis added):
"Yeah, I heard from Dow Chemical, they just did, they announced a major facility in I believe it's Saudi Arabia, they were looking at building it in Oklahoma but they said we couldn't rely on the natural gas here, the environmental regulation and whether it would be an abundant supply and reliable or not."Greenberg fact checks whether a Dow Chemical plant planned for Saudi Arabia was planned for Oklahoma. But Romney clearly indicated his uncertainty that the facility for which Oklahoma was in the running ended up in Saudi Arabia.
Is Greenberg hiding the ball from his readers?
Greenberg remains fixed on Romney's tentative recollection of the Saudi Arabia facility:
But Romney wasn’t highlighting a Dow project by itself. He was saying it could have happened in Oklahoma. We asked the Romney campaign to back up the claim that Dow had picked Saudi Arabia over Oklahoma for reasons related to the natural gas supply. We never heard back.Greenberg supplies sufficient reporting to make it appear unlikely the facility in Saudi Arabia was ever a possibility for Oklahoma. But he spends apparently no time at all exploring other possibilities where Romney expressed uncertainty. The PolitiFact story mentions a new plant in Freeport, Texas as part of an effort to take advantage of cheap natural gas reserves. Why not explore that avenue?
We asked Dow if Oklahoma had ever been in the running as a possible location for that facility. The company never responded to that direct question.
Business Insider, April 12, 2012:
My friend who has been running hedge fund money for years had this to say:I'm not going to try to do Greenberg's reporting for him. But it seems possible that Oklahoma could host an ethylene cracking facility, for example, and that Dow may have initially considered Oklahoma as part of the expansion based in Freeport.
“Nat Gas could go to zero. Gas is a byproduct of drilling for oil. With US oil still worth $100+ a barrel, the drilling will continue, and more gas will be the result.”
“There are many things that are changing due to the cheap Nat. gas. Companies that are running short haul truck routes out of central locations are converting to gas. Chemical companies that use natural gas as a feedstock are seeing new opportunities. The first new ethylene plant (plastic from natural gas) in many years will be built in Oklahoma. This plant was going to be built in Mexico, but cheap gas has brought it back home.”
It looks like Greenberg either ignored his reporter's instincts or else had no such instincts to ignore.
Editors Aaron Sharockman and Bill Adair failed to bridge the gap.