Monday, September 21, 2009

Texas and recession... no 19 second video can capture this situation....

There have been a lot of new numbers coming out about the economy lately. Brookings sez that at least a couple of cities in Texas are already not in recession (link). Recession heat maps show comparatively cool climate in Texas (link). The Texas unemployment rate is nearly 2 points below the national average, and 4 percent lower than the chief rival California. Still, unemployment in Texas is up to 8%. A lot of people are worried, and all of this Obama health care stuff is making a lot of people nervous. Yes Texas is the best state economy in the country, but that is not enough when the entire country is in terrible shape and people are convinced the entire country is in a second great depression. To use an insensitive common paraphrase, being the best off right now is like winning the special olympics...

Kay's campaign, liberal blogs, and a few Texas reporters have posted a video of Rick boasting about the Texas economy (link). In the video Rick appears to get a little carried away with just how well Texas is doing... saying Texas is "recession proof" and then recalling a conversation he had with someone where the words "what recession?" came up... and then the video cuts out abruptly. It has been watched more than 14 thousand times because it has been linked on all the major liberal blogs and POLITICO.

The video is the only video posted on an anonymous YouTube page... it has all the hallmarks of a campaign hit video from Kay's campaign.

Paul Burka asks if the video is a dirty trick (link). Excerpt follows...

The video does end abruptly, but I didn’t think anything about it, as many videos, particularly those on YouTube (as this one is), are edited to present the most interesting material.

It is my hope that another video exists that will clear this up. I said some pretty harsh things about Perry, and if there is a tape that indeed shows him expressing appropriate concern about the recession following his joke, then I will rephrase my comments accordingly. As I said in the original post, I was surprised, because Perry is a very skillful and disciplined campaigner, and this was not a typical performance. I hope that the truth comes out.

Paul, it is NOT a dirty trick, but any purported journalist who hosts this stuff and gives it credibility and seeding for viral dissemination is the willing participant in a blatant manipulation from a campaign. Journalists who do this are either played like a fiddle, or appear just a little too eager to buy into anything anti Rick. Look, I get lots of emails from both sides... not as many as I used to get when Kay's campaign had some different staffers, but still... I don't always rush to blog every little thing right away.

Is journalism about getting out the truth? Or getting viewers, readers and ratings? Entertainment, or public trust? Injecting opinions to exert influence, or covering the facts straight and letting people make up their own minds? If your objective is to inform the public accurately, I don't think hastily posting an edited hit video without context or comment from the other side is really within what they teach in journalism classes.

Senator Dan Patrick was at the event, and he sent an email to Burka that Burka posted...

To readers:

Senator Dan Patrick submitted this comment to the blog, which I am posting at his request.

* * * *

I read your latest blog on the Perry video. I am requesting you post this as a response. FYI I have not talked with the Governor’s team about my post. It’s 3 am–this is my response.

Perry video was edited to change the meaning of his comments. I was there.

Last week the Governor came to the DPS office on 290 in Houston to announce his new border plan. I attended the announcement along with several other legislators. This event was not open to the general public. As I entered the building, like everyone else, I had to supply my I.D. to the two DPS officers inside the lobby. A television crew had just entered before me and showed their I.D. as well.

While I was checking in with security, a young man, acting a bit odd, was checking in at the same time. He said he was was with the press. Court Koenning, my former chief of staff, was with me. All of us took note of his odd behavior. He did not have any media identification and was not allowed inside the security area. He quickly left. We surmised that he may be working for the opposition and was there to monitor the Governor’s speech.

Last Thursday I was at the Hobby Hilton for the Governor’s speech. And once again, while checking in to find my table assignment for the lunch, the same person, who I had seen lying about being a member of the media at the other event, was checking in for this event. Since this was simply a check in table, and not security, he was allowed inside. Unlike the DPS event this event was open to the public. There would have been no reason not to allow him inside.

Everyone else in the crowd of 500 were open and friendly. They knew others at the lunch. This was a Chamber event. This young man appeared not to know anyone and did not talk to anyone. He was alone just as he was at the other event.

I was distracted by someone and in a moment he disappeared in the crowd of 500 entering the ballroom. A moment later the Governor arrived and I was busy from that point on. I think it is a strong possibility that this young man is the person who provided the video.

As to the video, it was edited in a way to take the Governor’s remarks out of context, I have spent my life in radio and television. I know all of the tricks. I was sitting a few feet from the Governor and listening intently to his speech. I can attest that the Governor was very clear that we have people in Texas who have lost their jobs and who are hurting. He was in no way was disrespectful or lacking in compassion to people in Texas who have lost their jobs. The edited video is totally misleading. It is clear it was a dirty trick perpetrated by someone who is not supporting the Governor.

I doubt if anyone was taping the entire speech. The only people who would be doing that would be his opposition. In the future it may be necessary for the Governor’s team to tape all of his speeches so there is a record of his remarks.

As an elected official, and a member of the media, I don’t mind anyone taping a speech and playing only a part of it back at some point. As long as it not doctored, or edited in a manner that changes the actual meaning of the remarks, I have not problem with a short cut. It is standard procedure. However, it is unacceptable to edit an audio, or video tape, in such a way as to change the actual content, meaning, or tone. Professional journalists would never do this. However, a political operative would surely do it. It appears that is what happened in this case.

Senator Dan Patrick

Dan Patrick is right. No professional journalist who cared about his or her reputation would have produced this kind of video, and very few would have posted it without checking a few things first. 19 seconds of video should mean a BIG RED FLAG. A two minute clip or a 19 second clip with a supplementary 2 minute clip to prove it was in context... different story...

Lessons to be learned here...
1. Rick's peeps should record every public or private event possible of their guy. They just need to have someone filming at all times, so they can be ready to give the context if there is another moment like this... Kay's peeps should probably be recording her every public move as well since Rick's peeps have demonstrated a propensity to tape her and make videos as well...

2. If journalists wish to maintain any credibility and integrity, they should question their sources on both sides a little bit more, and then DISCLOSE where they learned about a video. Did they just stumble upon it doing a google search, or did one of the campaigns frantically send the link? Really I think Jason Embry gets the credit for rushing this video onto his blog without asking for the entire video first to see if the short blip is taken out of context or edited or what. It is for bloggers and campaign staffs to distort and spin, it is for journalists to get to the truth... carefully. If Paul Burka and Jason Embry want to be bloggers, great, but if they want to be journalists too they should hold themselves to a higher standard. You can't be a journalist, then post possibly misleading things on your blog (we still don't really know), then lash out at people and say, "hey, this is just a blog, not the New York Times."

To reiterate, vet the videos a bit first, then disclose where they came from second. Then post the videos frequently! Videos are great. Keep posting them please.

3. The video in question has no campaign disclaimer, so if it did come from Kay's campaign, it may be a fairly legit campaign ethics violation. Usually Phillip Martin and Matt Glazer of the Burnt Orange Report are all over that kind of stuff...

4. Video trackers are not dirty politics at all, and these hit videos can be really fun and viral, and they are often very revealing, but there is a difference between an internet sensation pushed first by bloggers and a video that derived credibility from first appearing on a newspaper website and then spreading to blogs. I think journalists have a real obligation to run these videos through the ringer before not only posting them but writing pages of hyperbole based on them... trust but verify guys.

I think this episode does illustrate the changing rules of campaigns and journalism. I think it is up to the campaigns to adapt to the changing rules, but it is sort of up to the journalists to set some basic ground rules and play referee...

1 comment:

  1. nice post, very thoughtful take on the changing landscape


Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.