Friday, January 25, 2008

Romney Whisperer Intercepted? -Update-

I have my doubts. There is an idea that Mitt Romney received some sort of third party help to answer a question during last night's Republican debate in South Carolina. The reports note that a microphone picked up a whispered "don't raise taxes" in response to a Tim Russert question concerning Social Security and Reagan's 1983 Social Security "fix". Romney responded to Russert's question by stating that he wouldn't raise taxes. The whole idea sounds fishy to me, for starters Romney doesn't need the help, for crying out loud the guy went to Harvard and the Harvard Business School. I watched the debate on MSNBC so I did hear the whispered comment in question, in addition to hearing a number of other comments from what sounded like the same voice and another voice. I assumed that one of the voices was Chris Mathews.

Listening to the recording I must say that the voice is loud, it sounds like a stage whisper. When the "don't raise taxes" comment is heard Romney tilted his head to his right, giving the viewer the impression that the comment is being made from offstage. For starters it would be interesting to look at debate recordings to see if Romney regularly tilts his head at more challenging or loaded questions. Without doing that you have to start asking how this happened? A person doing stage whispers from just offstage sounds like something that is unlikely simply because that person would've been noticed and photographed, by an opposition cell phone if nothing else. In other words, somebody would be complaining about it. Is the voice from another wireless device bleeding over to NBC's broadcast? Well, without visual evidence of how Gov. Romney received the signal, something like an earpiece, that idea seems pretty far fetched.

When I heard the "don't raise taxes"comment I assumed that it was spoken by Chris Mathews, I assumed that many of the whispered comments that I was hearing were from some miked MSNBC commentators whose microphone channels were left partially open or were bleeding over into the broadcast audio mix. When Russert asked the question concerning Social Security he phrased it using the example of Reagan and Tip O'Neill coming to a bipartisan agreement over raising the FICA taxes. As anybody who has seen Mr. Mathews' show knows, Mathews worked for the late Speaker Tip O'Neill and rightly holds him very high regard. It sounded to me like Mathews knew that Romney would answer with a tax angle and that he was animated due to the O'Neill tie-in. I did not record the debate and did not pay much attention to the whispered bleed-ins so it would be interesting to hear what else was whispered. It is also notable that an MSNBC blogger who speculated that it was an intentional whisper directed at Romney has since removed that post, an indication that MSNBC knows that the whisper did not originate with the Romney campaign. Until more evidence is published I am going with my first assumption, the whisperer was Chris Mathews.

Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs

Update: While writing this post I decided to refrain from mentioning the likelihood that the fans and supporters of America's Crazy Uncle, Ron Paul would be all over this. Well, I shouldn't have refrained, they are all over this like a WTC conspiracy theory.

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