Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scott Prouty, 47% Cameraman, Comes Out of the Shadows

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Last week Scott Prouty finally came out of the shadows to do a major interview on MSNBC's Ed Show. Prouty is the man who infamously filmed Mitt Romney at a fundraiser in Florida bad-mouthing the 47% of people whom he said "wouldn't take responsibility for their lives" and who want a free ride in society. Prouty says his first reaction was that the important part of Romney's remarks were the ones concerning forced labor of young women in China, and it bothered him so much he couldn't sleep at night. Finally he faced himself in the mirror and decided to release the video.

But it was a long strange trip:

From Huffington Post:
. . . On May 31, under "Romney Exposed," he began posting audio snippets to YouTube. Soon he started hitting the comment sections of The Huffington Post -- not the best way to stand out among all the reader debates.

Prouty said he later posted it to Daily Kos with mixed results. The Daily Kos readers ended up bouncing him from the site, suspecting his footage was bogus. He threw up clips on Pastebin. He did it in the comments of The Washington Post's stories. "Just trying to go build a little head of steam and get people talking about it," he said.

By late August, he said there were a few sites, including BuzzFeed, that had picked up at least one of his Romney videos. He said he had some success when he posted videos as the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on YouTube. "She came out and denied having any knowledge of it," he said. "But she linked to the video and left it on her site all weekend long."

The filmmaker said that before the Republican National Convention, he contacted the Romney campaign directly. "I sent it to the Romney people ad nauseum," he said. "They knew about it." When he saw Romney give his acceptance speech in Tampa, he wondered what the candidate knew about his videos. He says he never got a response from the campaign.

. . . He found James Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, who had discovered a talent for opposition research and finding gotcha videos deep in the C-Span archives. Prouty had followed Carter's work on YouTube. "He had good sense enough to follow me back when he saw my videos after I followed him," Prouty said. "Then he had the good sense enough to contact me after that."

Prouty said he wanted Carter to help him get in touch with Mother Jones' David Corn. He had been a big admirer of Corn's work -- especially his investigative pieces on Romney and the Hong Kong-based Global-Tech Appliances, a firm that sought to profit from U.S. outsourcing. He saw Corn on television all the time, he said. Maybe the veteran journalist could get his little film on the air. "They were picked," he said of Carter and Corn.
The one thing that now rankles Prouty is the idea that Corn uncovered anything. It was already out there. "Corn sort of -- he's capitalized on this for all it's worth and that's what the goal was," he said. "I don't want to say it the wrong way. He didn't uncover."

Later Corn wrote a book which I highly recommend ~ 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video That Rocked the 2012 Election ~
which recently won Corn the prestigious Polk Award for journalism.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if David Corn next wins a Pulitzer for this reporting, but Prouty is correct - he is the real power behind the story, and he's the one who took the video and shopped it around. If undercover reporters get Pulitzers, then perhaps he should share the honors with Corn.

The Ed Show is losing the 8 p.m. time slot on MSNBC and moving to the weekend, so this interview really helped him go out with a bang.

Complete Transcript of The Ed Show, March 13 ~ Interview with Scott Prouty

"My name is Scott Prouty. I'm a working-class regular guy. I'd like to think I have a good moral compass and a core, and I think I have a little more empathy than Mitt Romney had."

. . . PROUTY: We got there, you know, it was a -- you know, a political
fund-raiser. We did our usual thing. We set up. And you know, it went
off without a hitch.
I work high end parties from all over for extra money. And, you know,
it was really just another typical party that I have done plenty of them
just like it.

SCHULTZ: Did you know you were going to record him?

PROUTY: You know, I did -- I brought the camera. A lot of other people brought cameras, you know, like I said thinking he would come back and take pictures. Clinton in the past did come back with the staff and taking pictures. That was really my thought. You know, I hadn`t made up my mind. You know, I was willing to listen to what he had to say. I was interested to hear what he had to say.

. . . SCHULTZ: All right. Let`s look at the 47 percent comment which you admit and I think we all know, got the most play out of all of this.

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent were with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care to them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it.

SCHULTZ: What was your response, initially?

PROUTY: You know, I knew where he came from. He was born with all the advantages -- you know, advantages that few people have, the son of a governor, CEO. You know, prep school educated, Harvard educated, you know?

And I don`t think he has any clue what a regular American goes through on a daily basis. I don`t think he has any idea what a single mom, you know, taking a bus to work, dropping her kid off at day care that she can barely afford, hopping on another bus -- you know, the day in, day out struggles of every day Americans. That guy has no idea, no idea.

I don`t think he`ll ever have an idea.

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