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Gloves, Lies, And Videotape
By Ed Driscoll · September 13, 2008 02:03 PM · An Army Of Davids · Oh, That Liberal Media! · The Making of the President · The Memory Hole

Jake Tapper (the anti-Charlie Gibson at ABC) explores "The Isotoner campaign":

Like any number of Democratic candidates before him -- Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is once again declaring that he is going to take off the gloves and fight back against attacks from the Republican Party.

This is what you're going to hear from his campaign today, anyway, which is unveiling two new TV ads, including this attack ad against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

But just so you know -- this is, by my count, the 4th time Obama's campaign has officially or unofficially made such a declaration that Obama will "take off the gloves" and fight back.

That's a lot of pairs of gloves.

The Isotoner campaign, one might say.

Curiously though, once Obama took off the Isotoners, what voters actually received were a glimpse of John McCain's hands, as Ed Morrissey writes:
Earlier today, Barack Obama's campaign released an ad attacking John McCain for not knowing how to send an e-mail. Their crack research team apparently never heard of Google or Lexis-Nexis, but Jonah Goldberg does. He discovers why McCain doesn't use a keyboard -- his torturers made sure he couldn't. The Boston Globe reported it eight years ago:
McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain's encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He's an avid fan - Ted Williams is his hero - but he can't raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.

After Vietnam, McCain had Ann Lawrence, a physical therapist, help him regain flexibility in his leg, which had been frozen in an extended position by a shattered knee. It was the only way he could hope to resume his career as a Navy flier, but Lawrence said the treatment, taken twice a week for six months, was excruciatingly painful.

"He endured it, he wouldn't settle for less," said Lawrence, who rejoiced with McCain when he passed the Navy physical. "I have never seen such toughness and resolve."

Making fun of a war hero's severe injuries -- smooth move, Team O. Talk about computer illiteracy! Doesn't anyone on the Obama campaign know what they're doing? Didn't it ever occur to them that a man who can't raise his arms above his head might have a physical barrier to using a computer?

If this is what happens when they takes the gloves off, maybe they should just keep them on in the future.

While McCain is obviously computer literate on some level, telling the New York Times last year that he reads "Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes", Glenn Reynolds suggests that his campaign might want to better familiarize themselves with another technology--the video camera:
If I were a candidate, I think I'd bring my own camera to interviews, shoot the whole thing and post the unedited raw video on the Web.

The technology for this is easy - I've got a little Sony HD video camera that records on a chip and fits in a coat pocket or purse - and putting video on the Web is a snap, too.

Of course, the knowledge that this will happen is likely to be enough to keep people honest - but if anything is edited unfairly, the full video will tell the tale. No need to wait for Groundskeeper Willie to appear.

TV journalists won't be happy with this, of course, but it's hard to see a principled basis for objecting.

In the past, the tools for broadcast newsgathering were expensive and specialized, and much of the media's power came from the fact that no one else had them. Those times are long gone, and candidates, and journalists, are going to have to adapt.

Of course, there are risks for candidates, too. A gaffe-prone candidate, or one who's just bad at speaking extemporaneously, might want to present only edited videos to the public - especially if he or she can count on the news media to be generally sympathetic.

But that just makes the whole exercise more valuable to the public, as whether a candidate is willing to make the raw video available would provide a useful data point on whether the candidate is confident - and whether the press corps is in the tank.

I predict, however, that we'll see this strategy adopted soon, quite possibly in this election cycle. The news-media monopoly continues to decay, and technology continues to march on.

Back in 2005, I quoted a passage from Bernard Goldberg's second book on media bias, Arrogance, from the chapter titled "File It Under 'H'"--for hypocrisy:

You know the old saying "They can dish it out but they can't take it"?

In October 1999 the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 was about to air a story on a man named Michael Ellis, the founder and CEO of a company that markets a controversial weight-loss pill. It was the kind of investigation that doesn't always end well for the person on the other end of the camera, the one being interviewed. So, fearing his comments might be taken out of context and that the interview might be edited to make him look bad, before the 20/20 piece aired Ellis took the unedited transcript and video of the entire interview-which he'd recorded on his own-and put it out on the World Wide Web.

This made people at ABC News very angry. In fact, one vice-president told the New York Times, without a hit of irony, that "We don't want other people attempting to get into and shift the journalism process."

Next to be heard was former ABC News Vice President Richard Wald, now teaching young journalists at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Wald called the CEO's strategy, "a not-so-subtle form of intimidation".

Got that? When the media disseminates information about "other people", it's news. When "other people" disseminate information about themselves, it's intimidation.

It didn't take long for the tsunami to reach CBS News, where its president, Andrew Heyward, put out the following in-house memo. I share it with you now, in its entirety.

From: Andrew Heyward
To: [The entire staff of CBS News]
Date: 11/23/99 10:23am
Subject: Addition to News Standards

CBS News has always had an informal practice of allowing people being interviewed to make their own tape if they wanted to. This is meant only to serve as their record of the interview. Now, because new technology makes it easy for sources to use this material in ways that violate our copyright, we'd like to clarify what is and is not permitted.

The following paragraphs should be added to the CBS News Standards book under Section II-3, "Interviews." They would come after the current third paragraph, the one ending with..."will be covered." A new printed loose-leaf page will be distributed at a future time. For the present, please print this e-mail and add it to the book of standards.

Policy on Interviewees Taping the Interview for Themselves

It is CBS News policy to allow interviewees to record their interviews. The contents, however, cannot be published in any medium without the consent of CBS News since the interview is the sole copyrighted property of CBS News. Moreover, the interviewee's tape can only be rolling when the CBS News tape is rolling. There can be no recording of off-camera or off-mike conversations.

To clarify this, the producer or correspondent should record on the CBS tape, and in the subject's presence, this statement:

"We are allowing _________ to record the following interview for his/her personal use with the understanding that the contents are the legal property of CBS News and may not be published or broadcast in any medium by anyone other than CBS News and those expressly authorized by CBS News."
End of new section. 11/23/99
In these days of near-ubiquitous DV, HDV and cigarette-pack sized Flip video cameras, I wonder if any network would have the chutzpah to try such tactics. I'd like to think that if they did so to a presidential campaign, the response from the campaign manager would be laughter and a curt response. Something along the lines of, "You don't want the interview? Fine. We'll go down the street to NBC, CBS, CNN or Fox then. And we'll mention how you're afraid to let our candidate speak freely. See ya!"



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