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David Corn’s Nixonian Journalism

Can we for a moment stop talking about the content of the Romney tape and talk about how it was obtained?

We don’t know the exact specifics, but those involved have given us some clues.

David Corn calls the source “a person who was in the room” and who the magazine paid “a nominal amount” for, reportedly, an attorney.

And on Hardball last night, it was insinuated that the person who made the video wasn’t a donor to event. Matthews refused to press Jimmy Carter’s grandson, who provided the hidden video to Mother Jones, on the specifics of who shot the video.

Finally, Michael Isikoff was on MSNBC yesterday and said something interesting. I’m paraphrasing here, but he told Andrea Mitchell that the person taking the video had planted it on a piece of furniture and had to come back for the camera after the event.

All this points to someone who was hired to work the event, such as a member of the catering staff, as the one who took the video.

There’s a legal question to be answered as well. Florida is a two-party consent state with regard to recordings. Politico wrote yesterday that the tape might have been obtained illegally.

But even if the recording falls under some exception which makes it not illegal, let’s call it what it really is: bugging.

An individual planted a recording device in the room of a candidate for President of the United States and then a major magazine paid for said recording. And that recording has aired on every major media outlet and is popping up in Obama and Obama Super PAC ads.

Is this the new bar in journalism and for candidates? We’re now going to pay for someone to gain illegal access to an event and set up devices to record what candidates say in private?

David Corn and Mother Jones have given us the answer: Yes.


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