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Late Night: We Can All Be Video Monitors but Should We?

I went to Netroots Nation in San Jose this year. The most interesting panel I attended was on “tracking” where someone from one political campaign follows around a candidate at their various public events and records what they do and say.  The various members of the panel spoke about how powerful some of these videos can be citing examples from early hits with George Allen’s “Macaca” to Romney’s ” the 47 percent.”  I knew this happened but I was unaware of just how sophisticated the process had become at the national level.

I was glad that they were getting video but I still felt the entire process was far too passive.  If you know anything about me and The Spocko Method, you know I don’t just wait for something to happen, I actively work to make it happen, and I want the action to have an impact.

I told some of the panel members that I attended “James O’Keefe University” last year to see how he did what he did.  My goal was to understand his actions and figure out how to use some of his techniques legally and ethically.  It would be much easier to use some videos against the right because there are more corrupt people and institutions on the right and some are filled with racists and thieves. We wouldn’t have to fake the corruption with dishonest editing like O’Keefe did with ACORN or edit existing video like Breitbart to create the illusion of racism with Sherrod. We just need to be prepared, know the law and “show our work.” 

I asked, “Do you know of anyone doing similar tracking programs for key players in organizations or corporations?”  The panel members said they were mostly focused on political campaigns and cited all the various hurdles when it came to recording people who weren’t politicians.  Things like:

  • Their schedules weren’t public
  • They aren’t always in public venues
  • Tracking cameras aren’t tolerated in that realm as they are in the political sphere.  

And last, and not least, the unstated reason, nobody was paying for that kind of tracking.

I’m always trying to figure out how to develop actions that have an impact. These videos have had a huge impact on political careers.  We know the power driving politicians is corporate power. So rather than track the politicians they purchase er I mean donate money to why not track the power?

Now because I’ve been on the defensive side, I like to understand how to be offensive with activism. I’d like to look at how you might use digital video to battle a corporate political power grab (for example Charter School Movement with Michelle Rhee.) You need to prepare in four key areas.

1) Strategy

2) Tools

3) Action

4) Reaction and follow up to their reaction.

As I said, I found the tracking actions way too passive. They wait for the schedule, send someone to record, wait until they say something stupid then, Alert the media! (BTW, the trackers at the national level shoot HD because they want to be able to feed it directly to The Daily Show. Smart move!) The good news is that politicians are always saying something stupid. The bad news is they also have professionals following behind them covering up. Hence the terms, “Walking that back.” He “misspoke.” It was “taken out of context,” and “What the President meant to say was…”

The mainstream media goes out of its way to ensure that the politicians or authorities have the last word if someone delivers damaging video. When I went to “James O’Keefe University” I learned  the Right Wing Media does not bother to give the politician a chance to comment. They count on the spread of a video via their own channels so that when it gets to the mainstream media the response is weak. The damage is already done.  One right wing radio host was begging the newly minted “Citizen Journalists” to send him audio clips of liberal politicians saying something stupid. He bragged about playing a snippet over and over again until the politician called and explained. He knew it was out of context and didn’t care. [cont’d]

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