David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, also known as the guy who broke the 47% story, is currently doing an AMA — Ask Me Anything” — on reddit. Users have been submitting questions for the past two hours. We’ll keep this page updated with some of his responses.
This just in: David Corn can hold 237 garbanzo beans at once.
Corn on the headline “Romney ’47 Percent’ Fundraiser Host: Hedge Fund Manager Who Likes Sex Parties”:
Sensationalist? I dunno. Struck me as interesting. My story, I will assume responsibility for the headline. If Romney is going to promote himself as a champion of conservative social values but then courts a millionaire who throws sex parties, I think there’s a possible issue of hypocrisy.
Corn on why MJ didn’t leak the 47% video all at once:
I plead guilty to focusing on the portions that we deemed most newsworthy. When reporters report on a speech a pol gives, they usually do not put up the entire transcript or broadcast all of it; they zero in on what they find significant. That’s what we did, and within 24 hours of the initial release, we put up all the video we had–and allowed other media outlets to go over this and report stories that we hadn’t gotten to.That doesn’t strike me as a bad process.
I only gotin touch with the source in mid/late-August. So it’s not as if anyone other than the source was sitting on this for four months. And the source had put out some dribs and drabs in the course of that time, but didn’t want to do anything that would draw attention to him/herself. Eventually s/he agreed to work with me, and that led to the release this week.
Corn on objectivity:
For me, the issue is not bias in the media, but accuracy. Mother Jones does embody a set of values–the progressive tradition. But we are dedicated to accuracy. (Our factchecking process is really a pain-in-the-rear, believe me!) To me, that’s the key.
Corn on Columbia University declaring a “planetary emergency”:
We are fools to ignore this.
Corn on the place of Romney’s religion in the political dicussion:
I’m of two minds. I do think, in a way, that voters should know the bedrock beliefs of a candidate who is seeking control of our nuclear arsenal and the destiny of our nation. But should we ask Romney if he literally believes the tale of the Book of Mormon? I don’t know. But I’d be curious about that.
Corn on addressing economic inequality:
Minimum wage is a good place to start I think the tax code offers you opportunities. The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped in this regard. Investing in infrastructure and education can lead to boosts in employment that can address this matter.
Corn on the source and legality of the 47% video:
I cannot say much about the source of the tape and how s/he came to be in the room. But as far as I can ascertain, it wasn’t an opposition hit job. The source realized that s/he would be in the room with a presidential candidate and thought that Romney might just say something interesting enough to deserve recording. Seems the source was right about that…As for the legality of what happened, I will leave that to experts on Florida law.
Corn on supporting non-profit media sources, like Mother Jones:
You’re doing that now by participating here. Word of mouth is a great way to do that for individuals. But also if you send us cash–by which I mean tax-deductible contributions in the form of checks–we can use those funds to beef up our promotional efforts to boost the magazine and the work we generate.
Corn on whether Romney has a chance:
I remain convinced this is a close election. I wouldn’t bet. And there’s still a chance that the debates or external circumstances–say, a financial crisis or foreign policy emergency–could change the contours of the race.
Corn on whether he or anyone he knows has access to Romney’s tax returns:
I could tell you, but then I’d have to….Just kidding. I assume his accountant does. Did John McCain hang on to the 23 years of returns Romney gave him in 2008? I don’t know. I do know–or assume–that the tax return issue will become an inconvenient matter for Romney again, and soon. He has pledged to release his 2011 return in October. Which is reaaaallll soon. When he does, it will once again raise the knotty issue of…what about the ten years prior to 2010? I was just talking about this on the Diane Rehm Show (guest-hosted by Susan Page!), and we all sort of agreed this could be a problem and wondered why he didn’t release the return earlier to avoid this potential dustup so late in the final stretch.
Corn on why journalists aren’t more aggressive with politicians:
This is something I’ve pondered and written about many a time. See
I think there’s a lot of factors. Beat reporters often don’t like to be too antagonistic toward their subjects, for this will affect their ability to get information from them. MSMers often feel it is not their place to render such judgements and believe it is their job to convey what the pols are saying and let the public reach its own conclusions. I disagree (what a surprise!) and believe the press needs to be aggressive in policing the pols and in calling out untruths. I’m heartened to see more of that in the MSM, via factchecking (see the first piece above), but this recent trend in the media has had its rocky moments.
Corn on authenticating the 47% video:
Good Qs….If you watch the full video, you can see Romney say things that indicate when and where it happened. And we looked quite closely to determine if we could see any evidence of manipulation or cutting. We saw none. That said, I figured there was a slight chance (<5%) that some Dr. Evil Master of the Editing Bay might have been able to concoct all this. But I spent time communicating with the source and becoming familiar with him/her to increase my level of confidence. Also, it seemed to me, if this was a diabolical plot, then the video would have already been disseminated in a more conventional manner of leaking.
We blurred initially because the source requested that. But we believed that enough was shown to indicate this was the real deal. Plus, I had confirmed when and where this happened and knew I could vouch for the authenticity. Sure, there was the chance that some would have taken issue with the blurring. But what can you do about that?