There is a hot, Florida yacht-related story breaking today, and for once it has nothing to do with the ill-fated voyages of the "Summerwind." Instead, it's another one of ABC News' Brian Ross' many adventures in journalism.
Ross, who most recently was offering up breathless and completely under-informed reportage about the alleged shooter in the Aurora theater massacre being tied to the Tea Party, has been skulking around Tampa, reporting on the various private parties and just generally getting footage of political bigwigs refusing to talk to him on camera. Earlier today, ABC News published a story about a big donor bash, held on board a "party yacht" named the "Cracker Bay." The kicker, according to Ross, was that the yacht was proudly flying a flag from the Cayman Islands.
From there, we had an intersection of the cohort of people who do not trust Brian Ross' reporting with the cohort of people who do not know all that much about flags.
Briefly: There are a bunch of flags that bear the Union Jack. The Cayman Islands is one, Bermuda is another. The Cayman Islands flag is a blue banner, Bermuda's is red. However, the civil ensign of the Cayman Islands, which would be flown by non-military ships is red, like Bermuda's. All of these flags have various other insignia as well, which can't be made out in the picture that ABC News attached to their story.
The upshot of the original ABC piece on the matter was this: Romney donors have big party aboard fancy yacht with Caymans flag flying, bad optics, irony, embarrassment, et cetera. It was contended that ABC News' piece was another bit of journalistic malpractice from Brian Ross -- who, let's face it, is pretty terrible -- and that the flag was a Bermuda flag. How this saved Mitt Romney from the piece's intended angle (donors, bad optics, irony, embarrassment) is unclear. The Romney family's famous "blind trust" includes a corporation called Sankaty High Yield Assets Investors Ltd., which Romney set up in Bermuda.
But everyone seems to be settled on the matter that the yacht in question was flying the civil ensign of the Cayman Islands, so ABC's original story stands.
Score one for Ross? On the technical merits, sure. But what about the artistic achievement? Ross' story makes some broad intimations that the guests of this party -- on board a yacht "owned by Gary Morse, developer of the Villages retirement community" (the GOP stronghold where Paul Ryan recently campaigned with his mother) where they heard a speech from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell -- were Romney's biggest bundlers, whose identities the campaign has thus far refused to disclose. According to ABC News' story -- which identifies "Mel Sembler, a former top supporter of President George W. Bush and Charlie Moncrief, an oil executive from Texas" as attendees -- many of the guests "covered up their nametags as they exited for waiting busses and SUVs to take them to their next event."
So why is anyone taking pictures of flags? Photograph the attendees! Identifying Romney's potential bundlers would be a huge scoop. Romney's various affiliations with the Cayman Islands has already been established. By aiming low, for the "bad optics, irony, embarrassment" story, ABC News misses the potential chance to bring home a meaningful story.
Did you happen to have snapped a picture of any of the attendees of this yacht party? If so, let us know and we shall use the human flesh search engine to crowdsource their identities.
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