Mother Jones turned the presidential election on its head when it published secretly taped clips of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser claiming that 47 percent of voters are dependent on the government and that it wasn’t his job to worry about them.
But now the magazine’s co-editor said the secret Mitt Romney video had actually been available for weeks to anyone with an internet connection. The footage was uploaded to YouTube weeks ago by a user named Anne Onymous, Mashable reported.
According to Mother Jones co-editor Monika Bauerlein, several journalists found the clips and had been working to authenticate them but had a hard time cracking the tight-lipped source. Eventually the team of David Corn, Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief, and James Carter, grandson of U. President Jimmy Carter and self-described opposition researcher, were able to validate the video.
Carter sent some clips of the speech to Corn, who then went to work on the source in order to obtain the full, unedited video.
Mother Jones initially released on Monday a series of clips of Mitt Romney discussing how 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes and went on to describe them as essentially freeloaders on the US economy. The magazine later released the full video.
The footage now more than 3 million views, Bauerlein told Mashable.
“That’s getting into Rihanna territory, if not [Justin Bieber],” said Bauerlein.
Mother Jones‘ story and the video clips had an almost instant impact on the campaign. Romney’s camp had been making a message reboot when it was released, but the videos forced him to make a late-night press conference to address the issues and defend his statements.
Though some have criticized Mother Jones for using a secretly recorded video, Burlein said she has no ethical problems using it.
“We didn’t encourage the making of this video,” she said. “Once the recording has been made, it’s really more our ethical obligation as journalists to make sure it’s authentic, we’re using it responsibly, we’re protecting our sources and we’re bringing to it only what journalists can bring to it. Raw material is fine and good, but in order for it to become a story, you have to bring additional identification, fact-checking and storytelling to it.”
As the New York Times notes, the story is even more amazing considering the source. Mother Jones was founded above a McDonald’s restaurant in San Francisco 36 years ago, and today the non-profit publication has a circulation of a little more than 200,000.