Chanting Points Memo: Fake But Accurate

I saw this bit on CBS News yesterday - entitled “Target Boycott Movement Grows Following Donation to Support “Antigay” Candidate” – and I thought “Wow.  Sounds like there’s a wave of spontaneous anti-Target fervor out there!”

Then I – or “we”, actually – looked a little deeper.

The piece – featuring someone named “Roadie Roaring” or “Rudy Rattan” or something’; the woman’s diction is less-than-ideal – shows her walking into a Target, exchanging a bunch of goods, and demanding that her Target card be cut up.

It’s presented as if it were a spontaneous bit of reportage.  Look at it, you be the judge.

We’ll come back to Ronnie Roller in a bit.

With about three seconds to go in the piece, it notes that it was “Produced for the Uptake by Bill Sorem”.  I got an email from someone who follows these things:

Bill Sorem has records on Mn Campaign finance of giving a couple hundred bucks to the SD42 DFL (which includes Eden Prairie, the city where the faux boycott took place), and a $2300 contribution to The Obamanation.  So…a known DFL supporter just accidentally has his video camera and tapes this bit of faux news that is designed to threaten businesses into not contributing to causes that might benefit GOP candidates, helping his DFL party.
 
But of course, Bill has no unclean motives….NOOOOOOOOOO!

So – Bill Sorem just may not have  been a random passerby with a camera. 

The Uptake, by the way, is a left-leaning “citizen journalism” videoblog that spent the last year trying to convince the Legislature that they were a “news” organization worthy of credentials to cover the Legislature.  Now, they are participating in an attack ad run by “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”. 

So who is “Roofie Raygun?”

Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring emails me:

Phil said that Rondy Raiton “sounds strangely similar to Randi Reitan, a gay activist mother who frequently is on the op ed page of the Strib.”
 
I googled Randy Reitan & clicked on her images page. BINGO!!! So much for this being a chance happening. Rest assured that I’ll be posting about this this afternoon.

So when you google Randi Reitan, you get – voila!  The picture of someone who is not only not just some random Target customer, but in fact is someone who is relishing her fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

A skim through the Federal Electi0ns Commission database shows that Mrs. Reitan has given over $10,000 to various Democratic candidates over the past decade or so (Patty Wetterling in ’04 and 05, Tim Walz, Elwin “E-Tink” Tinklenberg, several to the DFL, a bundle to America Coming Together, a grand to Al Franken, a thou for Paul Wellstone, and much, much more.  Plus another $300 to Mark Ritchie and $200 to the House DFL Caucus, according to the MN Campaign Finance board.

And her husband Phil?   Around $4,000 more.  Son, Jacob?  Another thou and change.

At the beginning, where Mrs. Reitan introduces herself, perhaps it would have been helpful and honest if she’d called herself “a mother, grandmother, and DFL uber-activist“.  Just saying.

So to summarize:  Alliance for a Better Minnesota (and CBS News) want us to swallow the following:

That Bill Sorem Just Happened To Videotape A Random Outraged Customer:  It’s hard to say if the producer wanted this event to look like a candid camera incident; it certainly looks staged.  But it was presented by the Uptake, by A4aBM, and by CBS as an organic, grassroots, random protest against Tom Emmer and against Target’s donation to the “MNForward” PAC, which supports Emmer in the gubernatorial election.  This is bad journalism.

That The Uptake Is Anything But An Arm Of The DFL: After participating in an ABM attack campaign – which, as we noted two weeks ago, is funded by unions and, mostly, Mark Dayton and his relatiives - future protestations of being “journalists” should be taken with a large block of salt.

Long story short; the Uptake is staging the news for the ABM’s, and the DFL’s, benefit.

This is not journalism.

UPDATE:  Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring does some more checking on Randi “Random Customer” Reitan.

UPDATE 2: An emailer writes:

Let’s see if I have this straight (pardon the pun):
 
Some little old granny, after seeing Target giving money to a group that supports Tom Emmer, who might not support gay marriage, goes down to her local Target store, where she just happens to run into an Uptake ‘reporter’, who just happened to have his video equipment on hand to witness the events that transpired.
 
Of course, there is no “CONTEXT” to the event.  What you don’t see:
 
#1  “Granny”, her husband, and her gay son have given well over $10,000 to DFL causes over the years.  $0 to GOP
 
#2   The gay son founded “Equality Ride”  http://www.soulforce.org/article/1024  which spreads the message:  “to empower young activists and challenge the unfair school policies that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.” [We've covered SoulForce's odd mission here]
 
#3   The husband of “Granny” is on the Board of “Soulforce”  http://www.soulforce.org/article/891  whose Vision Statement is:  “We seek freedom from religious and political oppression for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people.”
 
Nope. “Granny” has no bias…no vested interest…no hidden motives.  She just happened to bump into the guy with the camera at Target.

It would have been different, to an extent, had Reitan not gone to such pains to set herself up as just another woman off the street – “a mother and grandmother” – in the setup.  But she did!

Why?

And why would “journalists” like the Uptake misrepresent a staged shoot as “news?”

37 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Fake But Accurate

  1. The left controls the debate. When Target gives money to gay rights group, you don’t see headlines screaming “Target funds anti-Catholic hate group”.

    Is CBS news still in business?

  2. Chuck;

    I don’t know how they are! With idiots like Katie Curic, Bob Schaffer and Nancy Giles, it’s a wonder.

    Let’s not even touch the buffoons over at W”DFL”O, like Shelby! They thought that it was newsworthy to support vandalism by showing that a lefty painted “NO” and a mustache on the George Bush picture on the Wyoming billboard.

  3. Mitch,

    I see that Ms. Roto Rooter or whatever her name was, dontated to Paul Wellstone. I wonder if she knew that he voted against gay marriage.

  4. You expect “journalism” from SeeBS? I wouldn’t waste 5 minutes watching that Pravda clone. Or WDFL (channel 4) for that matter.

  5. What I want to know is why people are still surprised by this. This has been dem SOP since Union/Mafia thugs threw Kennedy Illnois back in 1960.

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  7. As far as I can tell, Emmer’s position regarding gay marriage is identical to Obama’s. If Emmer’s position makes him “anti-gay” why isn’t Obama considered anti-gay?

  8. I’m not understanding your thesis here. CBS never claimed the incident was spontaneous, so they’re not being misleading. A woman who cancels her Target card because she’s upset that they donated money to a candidate that she perceives as “anti-gay” is not hiding her liberal tendancies, so it should be no surprize to anyone that the same woman has written liberal op-ed pieces.

    The article you linked reported that some people are boycotting Target because of the donation, and they show an example of it. Her disappointment with Target is real, not staged. I don’t see anything wrong with recording your opinion to share it with the world, or with media using examples of people’s opinions to report news.

    If this is “staging the news,” then every press conference that’s ever taken place has also been “staging the news.”

  9. AB,

    The CBS headling was “Target Boycott Grows…”; the video was presented at the very top – for a reason. It was supposed to represent mainstream peoples’ revulsion at Target. It’s nowhere pointed out that this ISN’T some random yenta off the street.

    Nothing is wrong with recording ones’ opinion; but when you have to use staged media as “news”, then there’s a problem.

    A news conference is by definition a “conference”, not a re-enactment of a potential news story. No reporter has ever gone to a presser expecting anything but a Q and A session. There’s a big difference.

  10. every press conference that’s ever taken place has also been “staging the news”
    Only for the last 18 months. More or less.

  11. Her disappointment with Target is real, not staged.

    To paraphrase a common Fark meme:

    “This isn’t staged. I can tell from some of her disappointment and from seeing some staged disappointment in my time.”

    ApathyBoy is the kind of person who sees “Islamic Rage Boy” (no relation to ApathyBoy, I’m sure) and thinks it’s proof of rage on the Arab street.

  12. Although they’re not Catholic, this woman and her brokeback baby boy have been hectoring the Catholic Church to change their position on buggery for years.

    Considering the predatory homosexual priest debacle the church is dealing with, it’s clear that not only are they clueless about the Catholic religion, biology and simple common sense, they have no concept of timing, which leads me to conclude that not only did the Uptake stage this, they contacted Roofie to set it up.

    It’s clear that the devastation of finding out about her son’s choice of sexual behavior has emotionally and mentally damaged this poor woman.
    Someone needs to give her a hug and tell her we empathize with her tragedy, but to please keep her family problems to herself.

  13. What a strange story. The author says “Groups such as this one – “Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics” – have spring up on Facebook, where those upset with the donation are encouraged to contact Target to let them know what they think. ”

    “Spring up”? What’s with the passive voice? What is the actual “news” content of this story?

    CBS says of the article’s author, Brian Montopoli,

    Montopoli has contributed to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, Legal Affairs and The Washington Monthly. He has appeared on National Public Radio, “This American Life” and MSNBC. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    These are all left-leaning publications. Why is this a news piece rather than an opinion piece?

    Here’s a good one from Brian Montopoli re: the last Miss America pageant (emphasis mine):

    If I ever got that “if you could have one wish” question at a beauty pageant, incidentally, I guess I’d have to go with that most standard of answers: World peace. But if I had two wishes, well, let’s just say I’d give serious thought to wishing for a press corps that covers real news instead of manufactured publicity stunts like this.

  14. “It’s nowhere pointed out that this ISN’T some random yenta off the street.”

    The story also makes NO EFFORT to disprove the claim that Emmer eats puppies. Yet another example of the liberal media slandering a Republican.

    The “random off the street” thing was something you layered over the story yourself to boost your post. I can’t say that’s hypocritical since no one’s ever accused you of being a journalist.

    “Only for the last 18 months. More or less.”
    Kermit for the win. Again.

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  16. I don’t think that you understand how bias manifests itself in the media, AB. If this was an opinion piece there wouldn’t be a problem; covering some doubtful bit of “news” that portrays Emmer as “anti-gay” shows bias. What is the context of the story?
    There is no indication that Montopoli talked to any of the people he quotes. It looks as though he watched the youube video, then used google to find quotes made in press releases or in interviews with other journalists. What a shoddy approach to journalism. Montopoli manufactured a story and managed to put it on the website of a major news provider.
    Monotpoli used to write for Columbia Journalism Review, The flagship publication of journalistic integrity.
    Shabby, shabby, shabby.

  17. “Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can’t be objective about Nixon.” – Hunter S. Thompson

  18. The story also makes NO EFFORT to disprove the claim that Emmer eats puppies

    Nice, but you dodged the point.

    Listened to the intro yet? the woman says “I’m just a mother and grandmother”; nowhere is it mentioned that she’s an uberactivist.

  19. Thompson also said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” A corrollary: When the story gets political, objectivity goes out the window. To pretend otherwise is weird. To still present something as being objective, now that’s professionally weird.

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  21. I’ve checked all of the quotes in the story. None of it is original reporting. The quote by the CEO of target comes from an LA Times interview, though Montopoli doesn’t identify its source. Even the quotes from Reitan were lifted from the video. Montopoli never talked to her.
    This story had one purpose and one purpose only — to give publicity to an anti-Emmer, anti-Target Youtube video made by a political activist.

  22. It’s presented as if it were a spontaneous bit of reportage. Look at it, you be the judge.

    Hm, yes, QUITE SO. Here’s how it works, perfesser: reporters (traitors) have these people called sources who sometimes call them up and say, “Hey I heard this lady is going to Target and tear up her card ‘cuz she’s a gay terrorist/America-hater” and the reporter says “That’ll make some great video for my story and I hate America too” and VOILA that’s how TV news works, genius.

    Now, once again, if you tea bagger brainiacs had figured out how to maintain a presence in the media after all these years (you know, as opposed to ineffectively bitching about it), then instead of the gay lady you would have gun-totin’/marriage-protectin’/flag-lickin’ Cletus clodhopping it down to Target so he could dry-hump the manager in tearful gratitude. See how things work? Glad I could help.

  23. Hm, yes, QUITE SO

    I’m sorry, Tim. When I said “you be the judge”, there was an unspoken “sentient people who deserve the right to vote in an enlightened society”.

    You are obviously not included.

    By the way, you are one sick little puppy. Seek help.

  24. Maybe we can get someone better than TweedleDumb and TweedleBraindead to respond? I expected better. Is the story too embarrassing? *shrug*

  25. Mitch, I know you asked a purely rhetorical question for good reasons. Let’s face it, practically every item on news shows is staged. The producer and reporter have a pre-conceived idea of what the story line should be, they recruit subjects to fit, they shoot and then they edit. I was an unwitting participant in such a story, albeit non-political, made by our very own Channel 9 about fifteen years ago. What I thought the story was about and what the story turned out to be were two very different things. Live and learn, I guess.

  26. Actually, I agree with AB on this one. He does not dispute the incident was staged, nor that CBS is a biased organization. He merely points out that Mitch is reading way more into it then appears on surface.

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  28. Golf,

    I know. And even un-staged footage and content is shaped by the editing process.

    Which is why there was once this high-level concept, “journalistic ethics” – at least in theory. Although today those mainly serve as a vehicle for the media to rationalize whatever they do.

  29. I think I get it. This was like Breitbart providing edited video of a speech to NAACP and journalists failing to do any original reporting.

  30. Actually, Charlieq, it’s like the MSM doing no original reporting on how and why Sherrod got her tax-payer funded job.

  31. Oh, good:

    I think I get it.

    Let’s see, shall we?

    This was like Breitbart providing edited video of a speech to NAACP and journalists failing to do any original reporting.

    Well, it’s one step down from that. Breitbart allegedly edited an actual event that really happened out of original context (I haven’t followed the episode, I’m not going to quibble about it just now)

    No context needed to be faked with the Target video, because it was engineered from the very beginning. And news organizations – CBS – portrayed it as if it were a random, candid customer being caught in mid-rant, where it was really about as spontaneous and un-staged as the Rose Bowl parade.

    Other than that? Yeah, same thing.

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