CNN cast an unfavorable image of Mitt Romney's just-released tax forms on Tuesday morning, warning that his overseas wealth and low tax rate might drive away voters. However, the network failed to report in the same segment his tax-deductible charitable contributions.
"It's a bad economy, people are out of work. This doesn't look so good from the average American's standpoint," anchor Kyra Phillips argued during the 9 a.m. hour of Newsroom.
CNN contributor Clyde Anderson added that the "general voting public" would be at odds with Romney's offshore wealth. "People are hurting," he insisted. "And so when you see things like this, and people maneuvering with savvy investments, is this the guy that we want running the country?" he asked.
What CNN failed to discuss were Romney's tax-deductible charitable donations he made in 2010 and 2011 – $3 million in 2010, according to his returns, and $4 million in 2011, according to his campaign's estimate.
[Video below. Click here  for audio.]
However, that didn't stop CNN from insinuating that Romney appeared to be an out-of-touch wealthy businessman able to take advantage of tax loopholes that the average American wouldn't benefit from. When Anderson was dissecting Romney's "savvy" accounting method of carrying interest, he posed "it's not illegal, but is it fair?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 24 at 9:32 a.m. EST, is as follows:
KYRA PHILLIPS: Now as Shannon mentioned, after so much pressure from his competition, Mitt Romney releases his tax forms. And it's no surprise – Mitt's a rich guy. Here's just how rich. He made over $21 million a year, or actually made $21 million in 2010. And almost all of that came from investments, not wages. He paid $3 million in taxes that year, or 13.9 percent. He also has – or had – offshore funds in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda.
Let's talk more about this with Clyde Anderson, he's a finance expert and author. And let's just start with the simple optics of this, okay? It's a bad economy, people are out of work. This doesn't look so good from the average American's standpoint.
CLYDE ANDERSON, finance expert, author: It doesn't look good at all, and you think about the average American, it's who's voting, you know? With things like the Occupy movement going on, this is the percentage of people that are worried about this type of thing, and then you see something like this where a man's paying less taxes than my elderly aunt, it's rough.
PHILLIPS: All right. And we talked about the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland. Now, we think of offshore accounts and we think, oh, my gosh, they don't want to pay taxes.
PHILLIPS: However, he did nothing illegal here.
ANDERSON: Right. It's not illegal, but the question is, is it fair? And that goes back to the optics question, the appearance. Appearance means a lot. And so when you look at this and people hear this, the general voting public is going to have a problem with it.
PHILLIPS: Now, he still hasn't made public the returns from the Bain years.
ANDERSON: Right. And I don't think he will. I think it's very crucial. I don't think he will. I think it's very crucial because that's where the money was made. You think about it, it's not wages that he's paying his taxes on, it's investments. And the question becomes, did he make that money off the backs of the American people?
PHILLIPS: So, why with all this pressure to release his tax forms, it seems like that's really at the essence of the debate here.
ANDERSON: Yes. Yes, it is. It is at the essence of the debate.
And so he had the pressure to do – and he should have probably done it a lot sooner as a lot of people have said. But now that he's done it, the question becomes is he really this all-American guy and can he relate to the general public that's struggling right now? People are hurting. And so when you see things like this and people maneuvering with savvy investments, you know, is this guy that we want running the country?
PHILLIPS: Savvy investments. And looking at the details of these returns – carried interest.
PHILLIPS: Explain to me why this was something that caught your attention. It caught our attention, too. I mean, I had to do a little research here. I'm not a financial person, but I found this interesting.
ANDERSON: Well, it's obvious that he had a very savvy tax guy. You know, he had someone – and again, he's wealthy so when he's carrying interest over, this is the interest. He's made things done that really help him to have a better tax position, to be in that percentage of 13.9 percent. So, he's carrying interest over.
And so, when you see this, and that's what he's paying the interest on, all this investment income and the not wage (Unintelligible). And that's crucial. And another piece that people aren't pointing out as much is that he gave his children $100 million. They paid no taxes on it. That's huge. Most people will probably pay about 35 percent in taxes.
You know, when you just really look at it, the average American that makes $65,000 if they're single, they pay about 25, or – 15 percent in taxes. If they're married, it's 25 percent. So, that just kind of puts it in perspective for you. There were some savvy things going on. But again, it's not illegal, but is it fair?
PHILLIPS: So, do we want a savvy, I guess, financial advisor running this country or maybe it's his tax guy that should be giving us all some advice on what to do.
- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center