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Tuesday, June 15. 2010
Remember CBS’ 60 Minutes Mike Wallace? One of the most feared questions used to be, “I’m Mike Wallace, and I’d like to ask you a few questions,” as Wallace showed up with camara crew at someone’s front door. As this tribute DVD to Wallace summarizes his career, “Take any great event in the last 50 years, and CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace has been there – asking the tough, frank, and even impertinent questions of the famous and the infamous.”
Now we have a young person daring to just ask a congressman whether he supported the Obama agenda, actually “"Do you fully believe in the Obama agenda?" The congressman repeatedly asks, “who are you?” The young person repeatedly answers, “a student.” The congressman grabs the questioner. (It is still unknown who the questioner is.)
It may be an “assault” by the congressman, punishable under law. It is a congressman acting excessively, when he could have just walked away.
It is, also, a sidewalk interviewer, accompanied by another shooting video, refusing to identify himself.
I would ask the same question as the congressman did, and without an answer or an answer that would lead me to not talk with the interviewer, I would walk away. (Scott Johnson at PowerLine agrees, and still reminds us that the congressman acted like a “bully and a nut.” I think neither, but rather unhinged as the congressman apologized for acting.)
At least Mike Wallace identified himself.
Yes, there is fear being struck into the hearts of liberal Democrats by being exposed as fools and tools by ambush journalism. Liberal journalists are defending the congressman.
There’s also many fools and tools among Republican congressmen.
Will those who defend anonymous ambush journalism be as defensive of it when Republican fools are similarly exposed?
Anyone being interviewed has the right to know who the questioner is, and the right to not reply to questions. Anyone asking a question of another should have the civility and integrity to let the interviewee know who the questioner is, at least if asked. Unless assaulted themselves, the target of the interview does not have the right to assault the questioner. That much is clear.
What isn't clear is whether ethics, journalistic or otherwise, flow both ways. It should.
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I agree with your premise, Bruce, that journalists, or other impertinent folks, should at least have the courtesy to identify themselves to those whom they question. It's polite and it facilitates things, as Mike Wallace proved many times over the years.
But Comgressman Etheridge should never have laid a hand on the earnest young man questioning him. That's over the line, and opens the Congressman to charges of assault.
It is also really stupid.
Should have told the kid to f-off until he would identify himself.
But the idea of manhandling a citizen is unbelievable. It is assault. Was the Congressperson sober?
Don't anonymous members of the electorate deserve to know what is on the Congressman's mind?
If I was the kid I wouldn't identify myself either. That would make me a target. How do can you be sure that once identified, the Congressman wouldn't retaliate, using his influence to employ the omnipotent power of Government to harass the questioner?
"Will those who defend anonymous ambush journalism be as defensive of it when Republican fools are similarly exposed?"
Oh, right. This has never happened before. Of course, my definition of "ambush journalism" might not be fully in sync with yours, Mr. Kesler. I would extend "ambush journalism" to include Dan Rather smacking his lips over forged TANG memos, numerous "October surprises" such as Bush II's decades-old drunk driving citation, and any and all "Borkings."
It's all very well to take the high road, ask ourselves how we would like it if the shoe were on the other foot, etc.
But. They'll let us. They'll let us play fair, refuse to lower ourselves to their level, yada yada. They're counting on it, in fact. For more than a century they have depended on it. Hitler depended on it. Stalin depended on it. The entire Alinsky playground-ratfinking edifice depends on it.
You may go ahead and play nice, if you like. I'm no longer willing to wait until my country is torn apart brick by brick for them to suddenly wake up and see the light.
Really, BD, you would have the congressperson tell a person on the street who dares to talk to him to f-off? Maybe the interviewer should have brought a check to buy a few minutes access, no?
As for Bruce Kesler, I would suggest the real fear being struck into the hearts of liberal Democrats is that of being exposed as fools and tools by the electorate.
"Who are you," indeed?
Yes, it is a fun debate.
The CongressThing is a jerk, and now a criminal.
I grew up street-fighting, and don't hesitate if physically assaulted or up against a mortal enemy.
Otherwise, I refuse to sink to the Left's level. That would, also, reduce most things that I care about to hypocrisy.
There's enough to skewer without skewering ourselves.
So, what is the ethical difference between ambush (of taxpayer-funded politicians) journalism and anonymous journalism, such as a blog where the contributors, who are free to report and editorialize as they wish, choose to publish unnamed?
And I might add that, if the Democrats were holding public meetings with their constituents instead of hiding in fear, people like this young interviewer would not have need to ambush them on the street. I don't think Mike Wallace ever ambushed someone until they refused to grant him an interview.
What's good for the goose: http://card.wordpress.com/2006/08/16/sen-george-allens-racial-slur-macaca-makaka-macaque-or-mohawk/
An indignant "Who are YOU?!?" is eerily similar to "Do you know who I am?!?" if't you aks me.
They really don't have any sense of obligation to We The People. Not a bit of it.
"Anyone being interviewed has the right to know who the questioner is..."
Really? What part of the U.S. Bill Of Rights does this appear in? Or is this some part of the "God-given rights" of which our country's founding documents speak? Before you spout about "rights", be sure you know what the term actually means.
Anyone who attempts to interview - whether a public figure or a private individual - may be considered foolish not to identify themselves...or not. That's however a matter of opinion, not a "right" of the potential interviewee.
"...and the right to not reply to questions."
Again with the "rights" - and once again, the term does not mean what you clearly seem to think it means.
Etheridge is a public figure, elected to assume and hold a position of public responsibility. He is therefore answerable to members of the public. He may choose to demand to know the identity of a questioner, and he may choose not to answer questions, regardless of the identity of that questioner or the questioner's refusal to identify themselves. He has no "right" to know his questioner's name - nor even a "right" to remain mum; only the ability to do so, which he chose to do, although in a very poor and graceless manner.
He further has no "right" to grab, wrestle with or otherwise assault (yes, it was clearly an assault; review the video) a questioner, simply because (apparently) he does not like the question, or the questioner is only willing to identify themselves as "a student".
I sincerely hope that the "student" proceeds legally against Etheridge; I have little doubt, if a fair hearing is held, Etheridge will lose and will be penalized. Sadly, if that should occur, I think it's likely there will not be much of a penalty involved - Etheridge should have to pay a hefty fine, and do some jail time; most "ordinary folks' would do just that, under similar conditions.
"Will those who defend anonymous ambush journalism be as defensive of it when Republican fools are similarly exposed?"
Absolutely - a "professional" political fool is a fool, no matter what the Party affiliation. This isn't about Party, it's about a type of borderline-moronic arrogance towards "the little people" that Party-line flacks like Etheridge have been displaying, increasingly, for too many years. With a bit of hard work and luck, we in the Tarheel State will rid ourselves of Etheridge and his incumbent ilk in November or as soon thereafter as possible. The rest of the country needs to do the same.
Remember In November - and vote accordingly.
BTW - leaping (anonymously, of course) out of the shrubbery to snap in flagrante photos or record embarrassing statements by private or public individuals in situations that should be otherwise regarded as private circumstances is "anonymous ambush journalism"; asking a public figure, in a public setting, a politely (though perhaps detectably-partisan) phrased question, even if the questioner prefers to be identified only as "a student", is clearly not. You really should study-up a bit on the difference, so you'll know it better when you see it.
My or anyone's "rights" are, may I say so, God-given.
The Bill of Rights is a restriction upon the government's power to interfere with our "rights."
The congressman has the "right" to not respond to a question, or to a question from someone who refuses to identify himself, and we have the right to not elect him again, and his "rights" end where the questioner's nose (or body) begins.
Someone needs to do this with illegal aliens asking the questions, as soon as he asks "who are you?" start screaming "RACIST!" at him.
f-off would also be assault.
The punk did not deserve what he got including apology.
Methinks, me first impulse would be to smack the boy.
But better to bless the little bastard and turn and walk away and set up a date with his momma.
I promise, the next time a Republican congressman is caught on tape acting like a crazy man and grabbing some polite kid with a camera by the scruff of the neck like an unhousebroken dog, I'll also call for him to end his political career.
"who are you" He probably should have asked are you tapping your shoe at me?
Score one point for the Congress Critter - The "student" should have identified himself prior to asking the question - that would have been polite and proper.
Score five points for the "Student" - that was a totally inappropriate response on the part of the Congress Critter and it does not speak well of either his termperment or his judgement. Being asked a question should not provoke a violent physical response. Verbal response - hey, f**k off, while not exactly polite, would have been sufficient, although thta would not exactly shine brightly on the Congress Critter either.
I'm not a street brawler by any means - although I will confess to being thrown through the front window of Maddy's Sail Loft in Marblehead after making fun of some Squids once upon a time on leave - but I think I might have responded in kind.
Addressing your larger point - this is the result of our constant 24/7/365 news cycle, the advent of easily obtained video technology, the presented information requiring instant commentary on thousands, if not millions of blogs, news sites and other electronic means. Content is king and aquiring content by any means possible seems to be the rule of the day. Our political elite, both sides, have not grasped the fact that it is now possible to aquire every single utterance, every single opinion, every single smile, frown without any filter of time or place. Anything and everything they say or do can be dissected, examined and reassembled to prove any point opponents or supporters care to make.
And I'm not so sure that is a good thing.
"Who are you" implies to me that the Congressman was going to calibrate his answer according to whom he thought he was dealing with.
I wonder why a Congressman who supported the ?bama agenda was reluctant to answer a question about his supporting the ?bama agenda.
These days, with the advent of cell phone cameras, politicians have lost much of their ability to manage the presentation of their public persona. Not all politicians realize that they are now ON all the time.
IMHO, the left side of the aisle is just beginning to get payback regarding "ambush journalism."
What the Congressman should have done.
Congressman: Who are you?
Unidentified Man: [Does not answer but continues to question Congressman]
Congressman: [Politely but fiirmly] Good day to you! [Walks away]