The last 48 hours of media commentary has evinced an interesting, and entirely unsurprising, double standard, or perhaps triple standard. When undercover videos of ACORN and NPR by James O’Keefe or of Planned Parenthood by Lila Rose get published, the media immediately insinuates that they contain deceptive editing and demand that the full videos get released — even though media organizations like the broadcast networks rarely if ever operate by that same standard. Mother Jones ripped O’Keefe at the time for not providing all of the video from his undercover exposé of NPR (via Breitbart):
To the list of journalism’s greatest disgraces, let us now add James O’Keefe. O’Keefe calls himself an investigative reporter, though as far as we can tell the only group of journalists he has anything in common with are habitual fabricators like Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Janet Cooke.
But that’s not the scandal we’re talking about. The real scandal is that—even though by the time he posted a “sting” of a top NPR fundraiser, O’Keefe was notorious for creating deceptive video smear jobs (ACORN? Hello?)—the media repeated the allegations uncritically.
Actually, O’Keefe eventually released all of the video of the ACORN and NPR stings, which didn’t change their stories at all.
But the video of Mitt Romney at a May fundraiser from David Corn and Mother Jones brings us a new innovation — the triple standard. William Jacobson, Moe Lane, and The Blaze discovered that, contrary to claims made by Corn and MJ, the video wasn’t complete at all — and had a significant gap at a critical time in Romney’s remarks:
[Romney]“We do all these polls — I find it amazing. We poll all these people to see where you stand in the polls but 45 percent of the people vote for the Republicans and 48 or 49–,” This is where the first part of the video cuts out.
Part two picks up seemingly on a completely different subject: China.
“…about twice as much as China, not 10 times as much like is reported. And we have responsibility for the whole world, they’re only focused on one little area of the world, the south china sea…”
Something is missing. Romney’s 47% answer was cut off before completed, and is not picked up on the Part 2 audio video.
So the “complete” audio/video has not been released by Corn, or Corn never had it to begin with.
Jacobson demanded an explanation from Corn, who replied that an “equipment malfunction” occurred:
According to the source, the recording device inadvertently turned off. The source noticed this quickly and turned it back one. The source estimates that one to two minutes, maybe less, of recording was missed.
In other words, it’s not the “full tape” promised by Corn and MJ on Twitter:
@davidcorndc audio missing bet parts 1 and 2 of full video — switches topics even though answer re voters not done — what gives?
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) September 18, 2012
Breitbart’s Joel Pollak blasts Mother Jones for its “deceptive editing” and hypocrisy:
Earlier on Tuesday, new media pioneer James O’Keefe pointed out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media in accepting, without question, a snippet of a video recording that aimed to portray a Republican in a bad light, while conservatives are still doubted even after providing full video or audio, as O’Keefe did with his famous ACORN tapes.
Whether Romney is right or wrong about the “47 percent” of Americans he says have become dependent on government–he stood by his May remarks on Monday evening–he may have been taken out of context.
Mother Jones has failed a basic test and broken its promise to its readers and the public. There is now reason to doubt that it provided Romney’s full remarks–not just the context, but the remarks themselves. And there is new reason to suspect manipulation.
Corn promised the complete version of Romney’s remarks. Instead, he provided a version that is missing a large portion of video at the critical moment.
Mother Jones’s entire story now deserves to be treated with suspicion, if not contempt.
I’m not sure whether the context would have helped or hurt — because I don’t know exactly what Romney said other than what Corn and MJ released. It may be that the context doesn’t change what we heard, but it’s equally likely that the “equipment malfunction” cut the heart out of Romney’s point. And I don’t know whether Corn or MJ had anything to do with the way that video got put together, but their description of it as “full” and “complete” was clearly misleading — and it’s hard to believe that an experienced hand like Corn wouldn’t have noticed that the first video ended on one subject while the second video opened on another entirely.
The mainstream media that demanded total transparency from O’Keefe and Rose (and got it) didn’t seem too interested in applying that standard to Corn and Mother Jones, either. The only thing left to wonder is whether Mother Jones will apply its own O’Keefe Standard to itself and declare itself anathema to journalism.
Update: William Jacobson says David Corn is still having disclosure issues.