Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dear CNN, Release the Footage, Identify the Peanut Thrower

At the Republican National Convention last night Ann Romney made a poised debut, Chris Christie speaking off the cuff threw his hat into the ring for 2016 and (after a while) had something nice to say about this year's candidate, and neither Sarah Palin nor a hurricane stormed the Tampa area; but the big story may have been the emergence of Mia Love, the Brooklyn-born mayor of a small Utah city who is contesting Utah's tough 4th congressional district against a six-term incumbent (and son of the former governor) Jim Matheson.

Or those were the stories until they were superseded by disturbing reports surfacing in Talking Points Memo that one attendee to the convention allegedly threw a handful of nuts at a CNN camera woman and declared "This is how we feed the animals."  Given that the camerawoman was black the incident, if as reported, has nasty and offensive racial overtones.  Since then, this incident has been topic #1 in media circles. (Update, yesterday the story was trending at #1 for yahoo.)

According to Talking Points Memo's Kyle Leighton, who following a tweet from @DavidShuster, broke the story, a CNN official has actually somewhat (but only somewhat) confirmed his account.  Leighton elaborates:

The CNN official declined to confirm specific details of the incident to TPM but generally confirmed an account posted on Twitter by former MSNBC and Current anchor David Shuster: “GOP attendee ejected for throwing nuts at African American CNN camera woman + saying ‘This is how we feed animals.’”  In a written statement, CNN addressed the matter: “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”
To clarify, then, this story originated with a reporter for Al Gore's Current TV, a reporter in fact who was recruited to the network by Keith Olbermann.  So far, no first-hand eyewitness has spoken on the record.

I see now that Leighton's account has also been picked up this morning by the Times of London, so it is officially now A Major International Story.  Why is CNN confirming the general outline of this offensive act that has attracted so much attention and then working in concert with the RNC to cover up the details and prevent further examination of it?  Why did they let themselves be scooped by other news organizations?  More importantly, given the occasion and the setting, who in the world would ever do something as racist, irresponsible, and offensive as that?  And why would they throw peanuts... something associated with elephants, the mascot of the Republican Party?  Leighton, in his post, holds out the possibility that the perpetrator may have been a Republican delegate.  Others have suggested it could be a Ron Paul ally bent on spoiling the party, or simply a drunken hanger on.  But heck who knows?  They could be associates of Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, on a false flag / dirty tricks mission.

Well, it should be very, very easy to find out.  The victim of the alleged attack was, after all, a camera woman, with her camera running.  The convention center was filled with members of the electronic media, and in these times every man and woman is a citizen journalist, with a video camera in their pocket.

I hereby call on CNN to bring forth the footage of this incident immediately.  Given the prominence this story has now taken on, the peanut thrower should be identified, and the facts made known. Without rush to judgement, if the account from Kyle Leighton and CNN is true, the perpetrator should be named and shamed.  Furthermore, it should be very instructive to the world how the organization responsible for him, presumably the RNC, though we can't be sure, deals with someone committing such an act.

CNN, release the tape!

The Talking Points Memo story here.

David Shuster's twitter feed here, and his Take Action News / "We Have Your Government Surrounded"  web-site [yes, that really is its name] here.

A CNN follow up here.

Oh, and the big story of the day, buried now... Mayor Mia Love's RNC convention speech here.  MSNBC declined to broadcast her speech, choosing instead to go with Chris Mathews offering his opinions, but three months earlier they helped Love vault on to the stage with a compelling five minute profile by Craig Melvin, well worth watching here.

Further commentary via Zombia from PJM here.

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