When originally presented by David Corn of Mother Jones, there was no disclosure that part of Mitt Romney’s controversial answer about 47% of voters was missing from the tape.

Since only an edited version originally was presented, there was no way to know if something was missing.  After all, it was edited, so of course something was missing by definition.

Romney has admitted that the answer on the video, which he didn’t remember except for the video, was “inelegant.”  That’s why Romney asked for the full audio/video to be released.

Corn reacted vigorously to Romney’s suggestion that he only provided “snippets,” and then Corn released what purported to be the complete audio/video in two parts.  The “complete” version was consistent with the original edited audio/video.  Again, there was no disclosure by Corn that there might be something missing.  (Corn added an “update” after my original story ran.”

To the contrary, Corn went out of his way to assert that there was no “filtering” and that the full audio/video had been released.  As Corn explained to Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

Is the liberal media making too much of the Romney video? “It feeds into a narrative he’s been fighting all along, that he’s a 1 percenter, not one of us, doesn’t really understand it,” Corn says. And since these are the candidate’s own words, “there’s no filter here whatsoever, there’s no out-of-context argument to be made.”

But there was a filter.  As reported in my prior post, Corn has admitted that 1-2 minutes of audio/video are missing.  That missing audio/video includes part of Romney’s controversial answer.

Corn says that his source told him the recorder shut off on its own right in the middle of Romney’s answer, and then was not turned on until Romney already was into a different topic.  We have no way of verifying that source’s story, but we do know that there were various edited pieces of the tape circulating prior to Corn’s involvement, so it is just as possible that Corn’s source or someone else handling the video prior to Corn edited out part of the answer.

It is impossible for us to know if Romney said something which changed or put the remarks in context.  Romney doesn’t remember the event except for what exists on audio/video.  Maybe in the fullness of the answer, the answer was less “inelegant” than it appears.  Maybe Romney put some of the context on it that we have heard in his interviews the past two days.

What difference does it make?

Think how the initial 24 hours of controversy might have played out differently had Corn made the disclosure up front.  That part of the answer was missing from the tape would have provided a valuable context both to readers/listeners, and to the Romney campaign.  That never happened because there was no disclosure by Corn that part of the tape was missing.

I emailed Corn to get his response:

Is there a reason there was no initial disclosure that part of Romney’s answer was missing?

Don’t you think it would have been important at the initial release to let readers and listeners know that the audio/video was only part of the answer and that you don’t know what the full answer was?

I’d like a comment from you on this as I think the initial non-disclosure is important, and I want to be able to present your side as well.

I have not heard back. I will add Corn’s response when received.

The damage, of course, is done. No amount of correction now can change the initial media hysteria.

While there is a myth that the Shirley Sherrod tape was unfairly edited (it was NOT, it was perfectly fair), no such media narrative will develop around the incomplete Romney tape.

That’s just the way it works in the age of Obama.

Update: Here’ is Corn’s response to my questions about the non-disclosure (emphasis mine):

Romney had pivoted from expressing his sentiments about the “47 percent” to discussing how to appeal to independents when the tape ended, and it was the “47 percent” description that were the focus of this clip. All the clips we posted, of course, were edited out of the longer video. They all needed to have start and end points. When we posted the complete tape, we stated there was a gap of one to two minutes, or less, according to the source. That seemed to be the appropriate time to do so. I will note that Romney, who clearly has thought about how to respond to this clip, has not said in the statements he has made since its release, “But then I went on to say….”

The highlighted language in Corn’s response is inaccurate. When originally posted, there was no disclosure. The disclosure now is in the post between the two “complete” parts:

The disclosure came only after I emailed Corn about my post and the missing audio.  The proof is that when I contacted Corn, I converted his post to pdf. and there was no disclosure between the two videos, as there is now.

So rather than making disclosure at the appropriate time, Corn only made the disclosure when I pointed out that he had failed to disclose the missing portions of the tape.

It also is unreasonable to expect Romney to correct an incomplete audio/video of a comment he did not remember making except for the existence of the audio/video.  That’s why Romney asked for the complete answer to be released.

AND, see this blog post by a reader who says he’s not buying the source’s story about the recorder stopping then being restarted, Romney Tape Gap NOT Recording Error.

 
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