Joe Scarborough is standing by MSNBC’s decision to air this clip of a Romney-Ryan campaign rally and his dubious claim that the crowd chants, “Ryan, Ryan” – Romney can’t even get his own crowds behind him. Via Twitter, he said we can “expect to see the tape again on Monday.” That’s after he warned that he would “take note of those who link to the lie.” The lie being, I think, that MSNBC improperly edited or interpreted the clip.
The error I see is this. As is evident from the clip — MSNBC captions the crowd’s chant on screen — the network claimed the crowd was chanting “Ryan! Ryan!” as Paul Ryan handed the microphone over to Mitt Romney, who was then forced to ask them to add his name to the cheer. I spent three years working as a producer at Fox News. That’s not long, but it’s long enough to know that there was a policy forbidding on screen transcriptions if there was any uncertainty about what somebody was saying. I’m not sure if this was a formal policy — it may be — but it’s definitely what I was told by senior producers at the network. Does MSNBC have a policy that applies to on-screen transcriptions?
That’s important because I concluded that this footage falls into that murky category where you can’t quite make out what the crowd is chanting. After boosting the audio and reducing the background noise on C-SPAN’s footage of the rally, I thought I could hear individuals in the crowd were chanting both “Romney!” and “Ryan!” and that Romney was most likely attempting to unite the crowd’s cheers. But not with enough certainty that I would have transcribed it on screen.
Interestingly, reporters on the scene did seem certain about what they heard. Live tweets from Politico and Washington Post reporters at the event indicate they heard the crowd chanting “Romney!” and that the candidate then proposed the “Romney, Ryan!” chant. A New York Times piece confirms these accounts. Twitchy has collected many of these live tweets.
Given this information, it will be interesting to see if MSNBC decides to air the clip again tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: After tweeting my original post on this topic, Rich received a response from Byron York, who also said, “I was there, at back of crowd. Clear to me then and now crowd began with ‘Rom-ney!’ and Romney said no, ‘Romney-Ryan.’” Buzzfeed seconded Byron’s account; on Twitter, McKay Coppins’s response to Byron and Rich was, “Yep, I was there too and it was pretty obvious.”