Spin Cycle

09.18.12

Videotape Source Liked Corn's Liberal Writing

Jimmy Carter's grandson was go-between for tape of Romney's remarks
Video screenshot

Howard Kurtz talks with David Corn about Mitt Romney's 47% comment.

David Corn, the liberal journalist who obtained the videotape of Mitt Romney’s damaging remarks at a closed-door fundraiser, says the unnamed source is a fan of his work.

“He’s told me he read my books and he was familiar with the earlier Bain stories that I had done, which were investigative, and he was impressed by that,” the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones told me in a video interview. Corn is the author of such books as The Lies of George W. Bush.

Pressed about the source’s motivation, Corn, who is also an MSNBC commentator, says: “My guess is—I haven’t asked—is that he’s left of center.” Romney’s comments, that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, have an entitlement mentality and that he views them as victims—have erupted into the middle of the presidential campaign.

Corn says “a researcher named James Carter”—he didn’t initially know it was the former president’s grandson—acted as the middleman. After another video excerpt, apparently from the same Boca Raton fundraiser last May, surfaced online, “Carter was looking at this clip that came out, and said let’s find this guy,” Corn recalls. “So he started digging, and made contact with the source, and without knowing what the source had, he then put me in touch with him.”

Romney apparently believed his remarks would stay confidential, though in an era of cellphone cameras, that may have been a spectacular miscalculation. As for the source who taped Romney at the event, Corn says, “what I’m told is that this was not a hit job or an infiltration, he didn’t go there looking to get Romney. He just thought it would be kind of interesting.”

Corn initially refused to say when and where the fundraiser took place and blurred some of the video, but that later changed. “Some of the earlier agreements I made with the source to try to protect, give him some cover, he freed me from,” Corn explains. Mother Jones plans to post the entire 70-minute tape today.

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.”