Added commentary by Timothy Horrigan; July 22, 2010
The unfortunate USDA official Shirley Sherrod is not the only black leader to be victimized by a falsified video. The same thing happened in the summer of 2009 to Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. During the height of the healthcare debate, a video surfaced which supposedly showed the Congresswoman thoughtlessly playing with her cellphone in the middle of a rambling, hostile question from a citizen who has been identified as "Tracy Miller." I am convinced the video is a fake. I posted a diary to DailyKos which got only a few (and not too friendly) comments. The gist of my argument is that this video was clearly made with more than one camera and has a few very obvious edits in it.
This horse is almost dead, but I will beat on it anyway. As we all know, there is an uproar over an incident at a town hall somewhere in the Houston area. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee supposedly took out her cellphone in the middle of a citizen's question, thus proving all sorts of horrible things about liberals. Here is the shortest version of the video:
I think the video is probably faked: take a close look at the part from 0:15 to 0:45. And even if real the interpretation is dubious.
A woman whose name appears to be "Tracy" (according to a subtitle on the video) was supposedly asking Rep. Lee a serious question about insurance when the Congresswoman arrogantly whipped out a cellphone and ignored her. Tracy is a cancer survivor who managed to get her insurance to pay for her care and she was worried that she wouldn't have gotten as good care under ObamaCare.
We never actually see Tracy and Lee in the same frame. We see two head shots of Tracy for about 14 seconds and male voices says "She's not listening to you!" The male voices could have been dubbed in later: they sound a little different from the other sounds on the video (but maybe they were just closer to the camera than Tracy was.) There is a jump cut (the video was made with multiple cameras) to Lee, who is indeed on the phone. This is a pretty obvious point, but that video could have been taken at a different time. For about 30 seconds, people shout at Lee, who does put her phone away. We never see Tracy during this time.
She puts her phone away just as someone's head blocks the view, which could be a sign of fakery. Around 0:46 the camera pans from Lee to Tracy, which is harder to fake, but not unfakeable. I think the pan was faked: I beleive two pans were matched to each other. (It is even possible that the footage of Lee in the middle of the piece was reversed: i.e., she only took out her phone after Tracy spoke and we are seeing that footage backwards.)
Even if this is a real video, and even if Tracy was real (she could be a phony), this is a dumb scene: Tracy was looking right at Lee, who was either on the phone already or took it out in the middle of the question. (Like I said, we only see Tracy, even though there was more than one camera used to make the video.) Yes, it is not polite to pull out your phone while someone is talking to you--- but it is also impolite not to wait for the other person to get off the phone. Tracy was not exactly going out of her way to be polite.
I also posted a comment about this video to a tangentially related thread on my local progressive political chat venue, BlueHampshire.com:
on the subject of Town Halls
This doesn't need a whole diary 'cause it's out of state and it's relatively unimportant. I have a DailyKos diary up where I express the opinion (shared only by Sheila Jackson Lee herself) that the famous Jackson Lee cellphone video was a fake.
I was roundly denounced by my fellow liberals for expounding such a wild theory. We seem all too willing to throw Jackson Lee under the bus. Sure she is a little nutty but she's 10 times saner than the average Republican in Congress.
The infamous video has a very suspicious jump cut at the 18 second mark. And there are a few other signs of fakery. We never see Jackson Lee and her questioner in the same frame.
I am sure Jakcson Lee DID pull her cellphone out of her pocket during the meeting. But I believe the timeline may have been altered on the video.
... which attracted this comment from Hannah Smith:
Look, the interlocutor is a bimbo. She's divorcing but she doesn't want any government help. What does she think a divorce is but a government-supervised resolution of a personal relationship?
When whites are inattentive, it's because they have more important matters to consider. When blacks are inattentive, it's because they're insolent (elitist is the new version of uppity).
Who taught these people that it's appropriate to treat public servants with disrespect? Is there more psychic satisfaction in dissing a black public official than in dissing an ordinary black?
I'm reminded that with Clinton "character" was a big issue. How about making Republican "manners" an issue?
Oh, and I almost forgot about this September 1, 2009 BlueHampshire diary where I accuse the New Hampshire Republican Party of trying to "pull a Jackson-Lee" against Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter:
The NH Republican Party is looking for a "Sheila Jackson Lee moment." Jackson Lee is the congresswoman from Texas who (in a blatantly faked video) supposedly whipped out her cellphone in the middle of a constituent's question.
This time, at the end of
the event, a constituent approached Carol Shea Porter at
the end of the event as she is about to brave a tropical
storm and rush off to another event. Carol listens
for a while and then (gasp!) turns her back because it is
time to (gasp!) leave even though not every Republican in
Manchester has had the chance to personally confront her
with an inane accusation. This is purportedly just a
random cellphone video, until the last frame where we
learn that it was sponsored by the New Hampshire
Republican Party. You can view
it on YouTube, and it is embedded below the fold.
Here is the video. It purports to be an unedited cellphone video (aside from some titles.) The video was almost certainly shot in one take. The audio is muffled and it also appears to be real (although bad technical quality is often used to mask fakery, so ya never know.)
In September 2009 I made some T shirts etc. inspired by the health care debate: