"Dean Scream" tape a fraud

In a column written for the Miami Herald and reprised at www.tallahassee.com, Edward Wasserman, the Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, revealed how the media used out-of-context video tape of Howard Dean to end his campaign, the same “Dean scream” tape now being repeated ad nausea on television to re-discredit Dean, the new Chair of the Democratic Party.

On the clip shown 700 times after the Iowa caucus, Dean is screaming for no apparent reason, red in the face, his voice breaking, seemingly out of control. His face filled the screen; no supporters were visible. Crowd noise was silenced by a directional microphone which deadened ambient sounds. However on a second clip brought to Wasserman by a young producer, was the same speech taped by a supporter on the floor of the hall. The place was packed. The noise was deafening. Dean was on the podium, but you couldn’t hear him, drowned out by his supporters. He was no longer over the top; he was like the coach of a NCAA football team at a pre-championship game rally, trying to rally his team and be heard over the roar of enthusiastic fans.

The Scream tape used by the networks and cable channels was a fraud, but the media establishment has never acknowledged it because it incriminates the entire professional mission of television news, the use of pictures to tell a true story. TV producers don’t claim to offer context, just visuals of what really happened. If great footage is profoundly misleading, if it doesn’t tell you what really happened, too bad, even if it derails the political career of a great man and serves the interests of one or the other political party.

Progressive bloggers need to get the real tape out and pound on the media that use the misleading one. It is time we put a stop to assassination of Progressive leaders by lies, whether they be spoken or video.

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