Well, last night was interesting.
I needed to be in Nashville yesterday anyway, so I crashed the tea party at the Gaylord (heh!) Grand Ole Opry Hotel and Convention Center to catch as much video as possible. I went as a citizen journalist with every intention of promoting my work via Huffington Post in all probability, but in the form of You Tube video that will be available elsewhere (including, and especially, my own website).
I introduced myself as Matt Osborne to everyone who asked. No one asked if I was with a media organization, including the woman who eventually “threw me out,” until Sarah’s speech was over and I was literally leaving the way I’d come. I got silent video of convention participants and Judge Roy Moore of Ye Ten Commandments. I talked to “media colleagues” and got samples of the propaganda. Though I was refused entry to the ballroom to so much as take a photo of Sarah, I watched a little of her speech on somebody’s laptop.
After getting shots through the wide-open banquet hall doors, I proceeded to interview two participants off-camera for research purposes. I didn’t take quotes and continued introducing myself as Matt Osborne.
I say all of this as prologue to explain that I’m working on a video involving Andy Breitbart; I was hoping to run into him, but was more concerned with getting video to lay out the narrative of astroturfery and right-wing nontroversy. If you follow my posts at HuffPo or my blog, you know that these are very big areas of interest for me; they’re subjects on which Maddow has reported as well.
So just in case I ran into Breitbart, I had decided to adopt the O’Keefe method: I went under pretext. The best part is, I did not lie about these things, and still got plenty of video. As far as professional ethics go, I think I did pretty well. My girlfriend thought it would be fun to try and say she was a high school senior working on a report for her government class; she does in fact appear quite young, but she’s no professional. Nevertheless, it’s her camera.
As I said, I got GREAT video that will be ready later today (I hope), but I didn’t get to meet or see Breitbart. So I was on my way out the same way I came in (the back door leads to the Opry Mills Mall parking lot; the facility has 24-7 public access) when I was stopped by a woman who claimed to be the event’s media liaison.
She had the a sharp, angry tone of a harpy. Mind you, this woman had already caught sight of us and the camera shortly after we came in and did nothing. When I now held out my hand and introduced myself as Matt Osborne, she asked me who I was with and I suddenly grew devil’s horns. Remember, I had already done what I’d come to do; just to find out what would happen, I said two words that may get me in real trouble:
I said that because (of course) Huffington Post is not a “real media organization” (while Breitbart, who borrowed the Huffington Post business model to spread demonstrable lies and paranoid racist agit-prop, was a central figure at the convention). Huffington Post alone does not get invited to the tea party. Wing Nut Daily is more “respectable.”
The harpy said I would have been treated like any other media organization if I had checked in with her, but I got VIDEO of their plan for me. No thanks — the media room was on the opposite end of the extremely large building, and reporters from other news agencies described an oppressive atmosphere.
Remember, I used public access. I took video of people already appearing on video. I didn’t tape or record interviews. As far as ethics are concerned, I’ll gladly compare mine to James O’Keefe any bloody day. Which must be why I grinned when the harpy said she should have expected as much, that HuffPo was an unprofessional outfit and I was the perfect example.
I tore a page out of the Breitbart-O’Keefe playbook and she called me “unprofessional.” Let that sink in.
Anyway: the harpy texted or tweeted someone. I did not have a press credential from HuffPo (I don’t think they have any, actually) so I began to explain that I am an unpaid blogger for Huffington Post…but she was already calling security as the words started coming out of my mouth.
The harpy said that I was to be detained and held for questioning, which was not about to happen for any number of reasons. It’s still the goddamn United States of America; I am not easily intimidated by civilians playing tinfoil god. I also found her highly offensive, so I just said “no” and turned to walk away.
Then the harpy followed me (she would follow me all the way to my car, she said). She attempted to taunt us (laughable) and hollered that we were in terrible trouble — which, in fact, we were; my girlfriend has breathing problems and was now having difficulty getting enough air.
When the harpy realized how I’d accessed the building, she took verbal offense that I had not paid $18 for self-parking. At that point I turned to her in an attempt at reconciliation; there were no grounds for arresting us, and my girlfriend was having a panic attack.
Which is the moment the harpy called the police. Irony: I was in a building full of people convinced the president was an illegitimate foreign agent bent on removing their constitutional rights.
We lost her and made a clean extraction, but there’s no video of all this — my girlfriend was so scared she thought she would drop the camera.
I will understand if Huffington Post is forced to disavow me. That’s fine; I’ll take whatever bad-boy punishment Arianna determines — and make no whimper of complaint under the lash. (Though it would be great to get some consideration from George Soros, who has yet to send me that check we’re all supposedly earning in the liberal ‘sphere.) The fact is, I haven’t made any money by being on HuffPo and that’s not what I blog there for.
The woman called herself an employee of Gaylord’s, but I have yet to confirm that and have reason to doubt it. More as this develops…
ADDING: She actually yelled a verbal no-trespass order for the entire convention center and the Opry Mills mall at my back. Boo f***ing wa wa hoo, I can’t drive two hours to pay a retail markup.
ALSO ADDING: Did you know that shutting a door is “assault?” I didn’t, until the harpy shouted this fact too. Interesting how adaptable definitions become whenever wingnuts get involved.
Also also Adding: Gaylord (heh). Turns out the great Nashvegas institution is a corporate welfare recipient.