July 6, 2007

Condemning Romney as a pornographer... because he sat on the board of a hotel chain.

He did nothing -- can you believe it? -- to stop the flow of adult movies into the rooms of Marriott Hotels.
"Marriott is a major pornographer. And even though he may have fought it, everyone on that board is a hypocrite for presenting themselves as family values when their hotels offer 70 different types of hardcore pornography," said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an anti-pornography group based on Ohio.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a leading conservative group in Washington, said: "They have to assume some responsibility. It's their hotels, it's their television sets."

During a recent Associated Press interview, Romney said he did not recall pornography coming up for discussion while he was on the Marriott board from 1992 to 2001. Despite being chairman of the board's audit committee, he also said he was unaware of how much revenue pornography may have generated for the hotel chain.

Romney said his current concern is not about pornography per se, but children unwittingly stumbling upon it on the Internet or television.

"I am not pursuing an effort to try and stop adults from being able to acquire or see things that I find objectionable; that's their right. But I do vehemently oppose practices or business procedures that will allow kids to be exposed to obscenity," the former Massachusetts governor said.
I see some good and bad in this.

Good:

1. Romney seems to have a some regard for personal autonomy in the private sphere.

2. Romney shows some respect for free speech of the sexual variety.

3. Romney refrains from using his power to impose his religious beliefs to limit the freedom of the individual.

Bad:

1. Romney -- assuming he's telling the truth -- served on the audit committee without understanding the value of an important source of revenue, which might suggest a certain laxness in management.

2. Romney might be lying (or fudging) about that, in which case, he's not the most honest guy.

3. Assuming Romney understood Marriott's business interest in supplying pornography to its hotel rooms, we need to worry that the three positive things listed above may not hold true when the rights of ordinary citizens are at stake.

32 comments:

MN Mom said...

Regarding:
"assuming he's telling the truth -- served on the audit committee without understanding the value of an important source of revenue, which might suggest a certain laxness in management."

The audit committee is tasked with overseeing that the financial statements are accurate. I highly doubt that there was a line item called "Revenue from Pornography". The materiality of movie income is likely such that it is quite plausible that it would be lumped with various other items and and it would not have crossed Romney's mind.

The board of directors would be concerned with revenue from important sources. The audit committee's role is smaller: to ensure that financial reporting is correct. I don't see this as lax management.

vet66 said...

Motels and Hotels not-so-dirty secret is that they are the ultimate destination for those told to "Get a room!" Once society acknowleges the fact that people enjoy sex on occasion in a strange room, catering to the excitement of illicitness is good business practice whether the patrons are committed couples, married or otherwise.

Guilt by association for Romney is simply tarnishing his Mormon (relgious) beliefs. How can the left and the ACLU call for the removal of religious practices from our culture like Christmas and Easter and then use the same argument against private religious beliefs?

This is thinly disguised religious persecution for secular and political gain and needs to be condemned as such.

Paco Wové said...

"How can ...the left and the ACLU call for the removal of religious practices from our culture like Christmas and Easter and then use the same argument against private religious beliefs?"

What do "the left and the ACLU" have to do with the subject of this post?

hdhouse said...

The single most profitable item for hotel chains is on demand adult movies. The margins are greater and the frequency extraordinary. This is an older link but explains it pretty well.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_2_17/ai_72273779?lstpn=article_results&lstpc=search&lstpr=external&lstprs=other&lstwid=1&lstwn=search_results&lstwp=body_middle

If Mr. Romney "didn't get it" then his economics 101 is a lot like his dad's.

vet66 said...

Paco;

One must understand that the Democrats and other supporting organizations are actively and enthusiastically dredging up anything from the opposing camp's prospective nominees.

I would venture to say that many democrats throwing stones at Romney have viewed the movies in question at various hotels/motels. I didn't hear any complaints from the left when one politico, Kieth Ellison, MN., used the Koran to take the oath of office recently.

Since when is religion only an issue when it comes to people on the right? Attacking Romney is a crime of convenience displaying intense political bias.

AllenS said...

Maybe someone could help me here. I've never payed to see a movie at a Marriott, but do they show hard core porn, or soft porn. There is a difference.

Zach said...

According to the article, the in-room entertainment (including pay-per-view movies) is provided by an external contractor, On Command corp., so it wouldn't surprise me if the board of directors weren't familiar with the category-by-category breakdown of revenue from pay-per-view movies.

Assuming Romney did know this breakdown, would it really be appropriate for him to push for changes? I thought directors were supposed to be independent of management -- to oversee the company, not run it.

MadisonMan said...

One must understand that the Democrats and other supporting organizations are actively and enthusiastically dredging up anything from the opposing camp's prospective nominees.


Thank goodness the Republican party and its supporting organizations are above such chicanery.

vet66 said...

Mad Man;

The day is young! I am certain that between both Clinton's and Obama there will be a treasure trove of interesting material.

People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Roger said...

When all of the oppo research gets fully geared up and leaked out there, this could be the muddiest campaign season in memory! Onion rings, pets on top of cars, 1250 dollar haircuts.....the mind boggles.

Bruce Hayden said...

I would agree with the above posters. Romney is likely to have seen a balance sheet item for on-demand video from an outside contractor, and stopped right there. At one level, it could be argued that it really isn't that much of Marriott's or Romney's business how that item is broken up, between porn, new releases, etc.

This is just silly. Next thing you know, Romney is going to be tarred by the fact that drug users, or maybe even godless pornographers, used office supplies from Staples.

Tim said...

In terms of the race itself, I'm not sure this matters all that much. It's not like the Republicans are making anti-pornography a significant part of their platform; the most likely candidate for such a position would probably be Brownback, but given his ever-so-stalwart performance on cloture during the amnesty bill, he's an official non-factor.

And, short of a meltdown by either Giuliani or Thompson, Romney is prospectively VP material, at best. And even then, Reps will vote for the top of the ticket, Dems are lost, and swing voters will not care very much at all.

Hardcore pornography available on a pay-per-view basis in hotel rooms will not be a deciding issue in the '08 presidential election.

Doyle said...

Come on. He's no dummy. He knows that PPV movies are a big source of revenue for hotel chains.

I agree with your "good" list that it's a positive he's not overly sanctimonious, but he's OBVIOUSLY an unprincipled man who will say absolutely anything to get elected.

peter hoh said...

I love how Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is suddenly an operative for the Democrats.

C'mon, this is inter-party sniping. Yesterday, Sullivan noticed that a number of Christian right sources were making comments against Romney. Here's the link that Sullivan pointed to.

I think these are silly charges. I like Romney's response.

The Drill SGT said...

And Marriott serves alcohol as well :)

the horror...

Bruce Hayden said...

Further on my previous point. An audit committee essentially oversees the outside auditors brought in to make sure that a company is reporting income properly. The actual auditors are typically outside CPAs, who take suggestions, but not firm directions from the audit committee. In other words, the audit committee might ask the outside auditors to verify a revenue item, but would typically not control the actual checking up on it, since part of their guarantee of financial accuracy is the independence of the outside auditors.

The bottom line that the audit committee is tasked with guaranteeing that the company's financial statements are accurate. Their job does not include making value judgments about income line items. For the most part, they can do their job even if arbitrary tags have been taped over each line item.

Yes, maybe Marriott management had the breakdown on how much of the on-demand revenue was porn. But that is not a breakdown that would be relevant to the audit committee. Their only worry is whether this $xx income item from all on-demand TV viewing is accurate.

I should also note that the Board of Directors itself is also unlikely t know about this either. Again, too low of a detail for their review. Remember, Board members of major corporations are working part time, and Romney's audit committee work comes out of that. And because of that, they have to stick to fairly high level oversight. Instead, they appoint the executive officers and let them worry about the details.

peter hoh said...

vet66, you wrote: Since when is religion only an issue when it comes to people on the right? Attacking Romney is a crime of convenience displaying intense political bias.

Look around. First, religion is integral to the idea that Democrats/liberals are "Godless," to borrow a title from a certain prominent conservative author.

Second, religion and Obama were covered in this blog yesterday.

Third, what was the whole point of the discussion about whether or not bishops would allow John Kerry to receive communion?

AlphaLiberal said...

Or Mutt Romney says one thing and does another.

But the burning question America wants to know: how much does he spend on haircuts?

Or does it not matter because he doesn't give a damn about the poor?

Bruce Hayden said...

Come on. He's no dummy. He knows that PPV movies are a big source of revenue for hotel chains.

Maybe, but so what? He has a income line item for PPV, and his job is to make sure that the outside auditors verify that it is accurate.

But the audit committee likely doesn't know, nor would it likely care, about how much of that figure is porn, and how much is new releases, etc. And even if they did know, as unlikely as that may be, it is not in their job description to control that. That sort of decision is delegated to the CEO of the company by the Board.

Allegations have been made that Marriott makes a lot of money off of PPV porn. But that is only because the hotel chain makes an awful lot more money. As a percentage of revenue, it is unlikely to be that big. Just do a rational test on it - how many here routinely view PPV porn whenever they stay at reasonably expensive hotels like Marriott? I sure don't. Not because of any morality issues, but rather, because PPV is expensive, and no company I have ever traveled for has paid for PPV. You might, just might, convince them to pay for room service in very limited situations, but PPV? Never.

AlphaLiberal said...

Vet66 provides another look into a weird world view.


"One must understand that the Democrats and other supporting organizations are actively and enthusiastically dredging up anything from the opposing camp's prospective nominees. "

You do understand that we're in the primary season, right? In this season it's primarily Republicans spreading dirt on other Republicans.

And likewise for the Democrats.

AlphaLiberal said...

Allen asked:
"Maybe someone could help me here. I've never payed to see a movie at a Marriott, but do they show hard core porn, or soft porn. There is a difference."

I've never paid for porn in any m/hotel. But I swear most movies these days have what we used to call soft porn. Do we really need to watch people making love up close in every movie? Kind of saps some of the specialness out of it....

vet66 said...

AlphaLib;

Doesn't make it right no matter who does it! Smearing Romney for seperating religion from business is wrong especially coming from those who would separate religion from our culture.

San Francisco and Los Angeles have made the news lately as two high profile mayoral democrats have been caught cheating on their spouses. Let's see how much play these stories get in the mainstream media and how it affects their reelection chances.

Oh, I forgot, these peccadiloes are personal and private! How do we defend/define hypocrisy!?

Seven Machos said...

I am a conservative Republican and a strong supporter of the rights of pornographers.

Bruce Hayden said...

For those who think that breaking out porn revenues would be easy, take a look at the Marriott annual reports. Indeed, out of the 74 page 2006 annual report, I would challenge anyone here to determine that figure.

As of last year, Marriott had $12+ billion in revenue, and paid some $1 billion in (income?) taxes. And notably, its income only partially resulted from hotel operations. The biggest income (and expense) item is "Reimbursed Costs" of around $8 billion. This is recognition that the chain does not own the majority of its hotels, but is rather passing through income and expense to its franchisees and those who actually own the properties. In other words, the hotel income, whether from renting rooms, or renting PPV, selling booze, etc., is merely passed through to the actual owners of the hotels.

AllenS said...

Alpha,

That was my point, a lot of movies have at least some nudity, and simulated sex.

Disgusting porn would be watching steve simels kissing trademark dave.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The audit committee of a business doesn't manage or make any decisions in the day to day operations of the business. Their function is to audit the books to make sure that there are no discrepancies or money being shuffled from one account to another to create false impressions of profitability or losses.

The day to day considerations of what types of business moves, services and yes even pay for view movies in the room are not under the auspices of the audit committee.

Sheesh. Tempest in a tea cup by people who haven't got a clue on how businesses work.

paul a'barge said...

Hilarious.

One one hand, we have mutt #1 saying "his economics 101 is a lot like his dad's" and on the other hand we have mutt #2 saying "Come on. He's no dummy. He knows that PPV movies are a big source of revenue for hotel chains".

Is it too much to ask the mutts out there to huddle together and get their stories straight?

Oh. Both mutts are Liberals.

Never mind.

Thorley Winston said...

Sheesh. Tempest in a tea cup by people who haven't got a clue on how businesses work.

Bingo. It’s only a “scandal” if you don’t know what the role of an audit committee is.

vet66 said...

Dust Bunny and Thor...

They know what an audit is about. The key is that they believe we, the unwashed masses, don't!

Is that insidious or what?! Substitute internet for teapot and you have their worst nightmare which is the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of the real truth.

Tim said...

"Disgusting porn would be watching steve simels kissing trademark dave."

So true for so many reasons, but we must allow that they'd probably disagree for so many other reasons.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

TMink said...

Not sure that you want to use the term "fudging" in this context.

I'm just saying.

Trey

Mr.Murder said...

Maybe he's stayed at the Hilton a few times...