Public sees what leaders say they can see

Last week a co-worker attended the song-and-dance that took place at Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research and came away with a distinctly bitter taste.

A panel of the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce conducted the hearing, but it wasn’t the usual bad jokes, inane banter or simplistic platitudes from politicians that proved so distasteful.

Instead, fellow Nerve reporter Eric Ward got a nice dose of censorship, courtesy of a US congressional press secretary.

Ward was in Greenville Tuesday for a congressional delegation field hearing that featured congressmen Joe Wilson and Trey Gowdy. 

As is typical for The Nerve, Ward set up a video camera to record the event.

Not only does videotaping events give reporters a reference to rely on when we return to the office to write a story, it’s also a good way for the public to be able to verify that what reporters write actually happened.

We at The Nerve have been called out before to back up quotes and statements, and have been able to do so by producing video of meetings in question.

But, for whatever reason, the folks putting on the hearing at ICAR didn’t want it taped – at least not by an outside source.

Initially, Jennifer Allen, press secretary for the committee, had approached Ward and offered him a news release and other background materials on the function.

But later, after The Nerve had been video recording the event, she approached again, asked whether Ward had press credentials and stated that committee policy didn’t allow filming of the full hearing.

Another organization was videotaping it and would make the recording available online, Allen added.

“The U.S. House Education Committee won’t let people tape a public field hearing? That’s open government?” Ward wrote. “That’s policy, Allen said.”

So here we have an event at a research center created as a result of a partnership between Clemson, state and local governments, along with the private sector, being held at public university and featuring a pair of public officials, and it can’t be taped by the public.

Let’s take a guess at how the “official” version will look when it’s posted online: It’ll be a watered-down collection of sound bites that makes Wilson and Gowdy look like articulate, dynamic leaders who are taking proactive steps toward creating jobs and leading South Carolina’s drive toward a “knowledge-based” economy.

In reality, the whole affair was nothing more than a dog-and-pony show set up to make some elected officials look good, get ICAR and Clemson some positive publicity, and make it appear as the government is the key toward lowering unemployment and bringing high-paying jobs to South Carolina.

Censoring a news organization’s attempt to videotape the hearing demonstrates the futility of the entire affair.

For if the event had any real substantive merit to it, government officials wouldn’t be afraid of the media or any outside group posting the entire discussion online for the public to view, instead of bits and pieces that they can manipulate in a bid to make themselves look good.


7 thoughts on “Public sees what leaders say they can see

  1. editing=advertising

    The tools that run this state and have for 30+ years are making an empty gesture toward the orange guys. “Reality” has become all about the red guys — USC/Republicans/[insert names of the guilty].

    • Naw, I kind of think they’re all in it together. The powers that be figured out long ago that there’s plenty of money to go around for the folks at the top, as long as the rest of us don’t catch on.

  2. Do you think money, back-scratching & Rhett Perry endorsements were involved?


    Goodbye, democracy.

    Freedom of the press is our first casualty — and this is war.

    • Freedom of the press has been steadily eroded over the years, and will continue to be because most people don’t care. Afterall, if Joe Wilson tells a reporter to turn his camera off, the reporter must be doing something that harms America, right? We get the government we deserve.

  3. I wouldn’t want to even TRY to earn a living as a journalist in this environment. And Joe Wilson — not once have I given him a vote of confidence. That vote of ‘no confidence’ now extends to his entire party in this fascist movement engulfing our country.

    What would happen if not a single soul voted in the 2012 US presidential election, as a protest? Would Barack Obama stay on in power? I ask this, sincerely ignorant of the legal answer. Ron Paul is not the answer, IMHO.

    • First off, Obama would vote for himself, as would his wife. And the same thing would happen on the Republican side, so you’d never have a presidential election where absolutely no one voted.

      Second, too many “consultants” have too much skin the game to ever let something like that happen. They’ll do whatever it takes to whip the masses up to get them to the polls. Both sides do it, too.

      Unfortunately, Joe Wilson is what we get as a result.

  4. Pingback: Government In The Lab | Blog | Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Citizens demand more open government

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