Citing a handful of right-wing bloggers yesterday afternoon, the Washington Examiner reported ominously, “Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted Chrysler dealers who contributed to Republicans” for closure. Not to be outdone, Fox and Friends hosted conservative blogger Michelle Malkin this morning to play up the conspiracy theory. “Believe me Steve, over the last several years, we’ve all documented the Obama-Chicago-gangland tactics that certainly make this a possibility,” Malkin said.
Malkin’s speculative hysterics were apparently enough to pique the interest of Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett. As he’s done with other right-wing conspiracy theories, he asked the White House for its response to the charges:
GARRETT: There is some concern in the blogosphere that of the of the Chrysler dealerships being closed, a disproportionate number appear to be in which the operators contributed to Republicans. And hardly which contributed to democrats have been closed down. I’m not saying the White House knows anything about this but would you be concerned about any taint of politics in any of the decisions.
As Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained to Garrett, it is Chrysler — not the federal government — that is in charge of selecting which dealerships will be closed. Further, as Nate Silver explained in a post that was published just hours after the Examiner’s initial report yesterday, “There is just one problem with this theory. Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren’t being closed.”
Silver explained, “It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats — not just those who are having their doors closed.” In all, Silver found that “88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates,” while, the list of Chrysler dealerships being closed “gave 92 percent of their money to Republicans — not really a significant difference.”