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ABC's Jon Karl Demands to Know How Romney 'Got Away With Paying So Little'

Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Wednesday parroted DNC and White House talking points about Mitt Romney. Karl demanded to know just how Romney "get[s] away with paying so little" capital gains taxes. The segment was punctuated by dollar sign and coin audio clips. [MP3 audio here.]

Romney's investments were taxed at 15 percent. Karl cited the liberal Tax Policy Center asserting "the average rate for those making more than $1 million is more than 29 percent." Karl didn't identify the organization's left-wing leanings. (It's a joint project of two liberal think tanks.)



After playing a clip of Romney saying he didn't make "very much" from speaking fees, Karl mocked, "How much is not very much? Last year, Romney was paid $374,000 to give nine speeches." Another dollar sign sound clip followed. These attacks echo press releases from the Democratic National Committee.

On the issue of whether Romney will release his tax records, former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos offered the official Obama spin: "...The White House adding to the pressure yesterday. You had press secretary Jay Carney out there pointing out that it was Romney's dad, George Romney back in 1967, who started the tradition of releasing tax returns."

How did ABC cover Barack Obama releasing his tax records? On March 25, 2008, David Wright breezily explained, "Today's Barack Obama's campaign released his back tax returns on the internet and challenged Clinton to do the same. Obama has been enjoying a few days of R&R, with his family in the Virgin Islands. But he's due back on the campaign trail tomorrow."

It takes incredible hypocrisy for journalists to slam Romney's earnings. After all, Stephanopoulos brings in $8 million a year.

A transcript of the January 18 segment can be found below:
7:11

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to politics. Your voice, your vote and that surprise last night from Sarah Palin. She's made her pick for the South Carolina primary. Another boost for Newt Gingrich, coming off a strong debate Monday night. But, will it be enough to prevent Mitt Romney from wrapping up this nomination with a win on Saturday? Let's bring in ABC's Jon Karl for more on this. And, Jon, the other big news of the day, Mitt Romney revealed that he pays a fairly low tax rate.

JON KARL: That's right, George. So, you have Romney under fire for his taxes while Newt Gingrich appears to have hit his stride, coming off a strong debate performance and now getting a boost from Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin hasn't endorsed anybody yet, but she told Sean Hannity last night who she would vote for.

SARAH PALIN: If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I would vote for Newt.

KARL: Her husband, Todd, endorsed Gingrich last week. Palin said she'd vote for him to keep Romney from locking up the nomination too soon.

SARAH PALIN: I would want this to continue. More debates. More vetting of candidates, because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted.

KARL: This comes on the heels of Gingrich's strongest debate yet on Monday at the Fox News debate, where he actually received a standing ovation.

BRET BAIER: But I'll talk to you.

KARL: The new momentum comes as Romney, who is ahead in the polls, is under fire to refusing to release his tax returns. Tuesday, Romney revealed he pays a lower tax rate than many middle income Americans.

MITT ROMNEY: What's the effective rate I've been paying? It's closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.

KARL: 15 percent? According to the Tax Policy Center, the average rate for those making more than $1 million is more than 29 percent. How did Romney get away with paying so little?

ROMNEY: My income comes, overwhelmingly, from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income.

KARL: Those investment earnings are taxed at the lower capital gains income, 15 percent. [Dollar sign sound plays.] Romney also has some regular income, like the money he makes from making speeches.

ROMNEY: I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much.

KARL: How much is not very much? Last year, Romney was paid $374,000 to give nine speeches. [Dollar sign sound plays.] We won't know how much Romney pays in taxes until he releases his returns, which he now says he won't do that until April, after most of the primaries are over. Romney's Republican rivals are increasing the pressure on him to release those returns now. Gingrich saying that Romney is disrespecting the people of South Carolina if he doesn't do it before they vote on Saturday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Jon, the White House adding to the pressure yesterday. You had press secretary Jay Carney out there pointing out that it was Romney's dad, George Romney back in 1967, who started the tradition of releasing tax returns. He released 12 years of tax returns when he was running for president. But, we don't know yet how many years Romney is going to return.

KARL: Yeah, in fact, George Romney released those returns before the first primary. Romney seemed to make it clear yesterday that he only planned to release one year, the current year's tax returns.


— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.