September 19, 2012

Fundraiser Access: Ask and You Shall Receive

So, yesterday Bag offered its latest lamentation regarding fundraising secrecy — with a few choice example of Instagramers knocking at the door. Then, what do you know. Not twelve hours later, MoJo releases the secret Romney  fundraiser tapes without the faces blacked out, and Romney does a couple fundraisers allowing photographer into the back of the room.

Regarding the MoJo video, the view of Romney surreptitiously and from afar amplifies the exclusivity of Mitt speaking his mind, the key screengrabs even more so conjuring lives with butlers.

In a message to me, Professor Andrew Mendelson of Temple, Chair of the Dept. of Journalism, writes:

Romney speaks on a variety of topics with confidence throughout most of video, seldom stuttering as he often does at press conferences or in public. The guests nod frequently in agreement, and occasionally even respond with a “Yeah.”

What I found compelling and revealing were the visuals that accompanied the talk. Throughout the video, servers move in and out of the frame, reaching past the guests, picking up dishes, offering wine, serving food. At other times, they stand patiently in the background waiting to serve. These servers are invisible to him, as they likely are to the rest of the guests. Romney’s only audience is the group of paying guests, not the working class servers quietly doing their jobs. There is no sense of self-consciousness in Romney’s voice as he talks about a people, many of whom could be these servers, who don’t make enough to pay Federal Income Taxes. This is an invisibility of a whole class of people who may work multiple jobs for long hours, yet are classified as burdens of the successful. Ironically, it is the invisibility of this group that likely allowed one of them to sneak a video camera or camera phone into the event and record it.

As for the opening up the doors on these two latest fundraisers, we have these two Instagram photos from Charles Dharapak:

@ charlesdharapak writes: This is what a Mitt Romney fundraising event looks like. First time cameras were allowed inside to cover. But from only one vantage point. The back. Salt Lake City.

Not nearly the Ritz of Boca, but greetings, table 68!

More @charlesdharapak: Hotel serving staff and finance guests listen to Mitt Romney speak at a campaign fundraising event in Dallas, Texas.

Not surprising Charles has demographics on his mind.  47% + 1% = 100.

Getty’s man was there also, and contributed this shot of what looks like a non-plussed Pickens, an Ann wondering if they will be coming out of the tank, and Mitt straining:

Something makes me think, however, that what we’re getting here is not a change in access, as much as damage control.

(update 9/20. Added quote and new ending.)

(screen grabs: MoJo video; photos: Charles Dharapak/AP; Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images. caption: US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a fundraiser in Dallas on September 18, 2012 as his wife Ann and oil magnate T. Boone Pickens listen.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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