Monday, February 28, 2011

Acorn Ambush vs. Scott Walker and "David Koch"

O'Keefe and Giles in their pimp and prostitute costumesA letter writer in today's Star Tribune derided those who were happy about the recent fake David Koch call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In effect, he said they were hypocrites because the same people were outraged about the right-wing video ambush of Acorn offices.

This sounds like a great opportunity to check for internal consistency in my views. What did I think of those two acts of guerrilla media? Did I shout in outrage at the first and rub my hands in glee at the second?


First, I have to say that I believe in guerrilla media. I love the Yes Men, who impersonate corporate spokesmen. When I first saw some of the Acorn ambush videos (which was on the Daily Show; I wrote about them here), I thought they legitimately made Acorn look bad.

But then -- big shock -- it turned out the videos were heavily edited. The Buffalo Beast phone call, on the other hand, was released unedited.

Second, recording a phone conversation that you are part of without the knowledge of the other party is legal in many states, including New York (where the call originated) and Wisconsin. Videotaping someone on private property.... not so much. Plus, making a visual record of someone (vs. a voice recording) just seems much more of an invasion of privacy to me.

Third, and most important, in my opinion, Scott Walker is a public figure, while the people ambushed at Acorn were private citizens. Some of whom said incredibly stupid things (although, given the editing, who knows what questions they were asked to generate those answers). Guerrilla media methods, it seems to me, should be used to bring out truths about power, not shame hapless people who ended up on the wrong end of a hostile video camera.

1 comment:

Ed Kohler said...

Well put. Things that help us get closer to the truth are generally going to be good things. The Acorn deal didn't do that.