The scream redux

The scream redux
: The Scream Spin of late has been that it wasn’t loud in the hall and so we got it all wrong; ABC is buying that. I don’t buy it. The candidate was not playing to the hall. The candidate was playing to TV and knew exactly how it would play on TV. It was a calculated move that turned out to be a miscalculation. Put that in your history books and smoke it.


  1. It was a calculated move that turned out to be a miscalculation.
    I don’t think so. I think it was a slip – a war cry that awkwardly cracked – coming from a man who thought he was going to come in first but came in third, instead. It was an attempt to appear confident – instead, the veneer cracked, momentarily revealing the shaken man beneath. If we cast our political preferences aside and just look at the man, it’s easy to admit that what we really witnessed was simply a man’s trembling psyche, a very human moment. I ain’t voting for the man: that’s just what I saw.

  2. Dan Herzlich says:

    A presidential campaign is no time to experiment with your comportment. Bill Clinton always came across smiling, confident and in control (until a certain investigation); he took his lead from JFK. Word is, in private Clinton has a terrible temper. You have to be aware when the world is watching, that’s all. Dean desperately needs better media training. Kerry is more polished in this regard.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Judge for yourself. Link to video taken by a member of the audience.

  4. Charlie T. says:

    Jeff means never having to say you’re wrong.

  5. HH says:

    Sure, the play was panned and the acting was seen as shrill… but an amateur videotape by someone in the audience, which as we all know, is better than professional video and audio equipment, shows that actually they had to project their voices because it was a big auditorium, therefore the performance was actually Tony-worthy.
    National Review takes down this after-the-fact apologia…

  6. What a non-issue, compared to what is really on the line. Reminds me of the Kiss and the endless tripe written about that.

  7. Jeff B. says:

    Robert Stribley: That is absolutely perfect. As much as I loathe Dean and everything he stands for (or claims to), that is EXACTLY the same impression I got too. He was so shaken at being completely let down by the organization he thought would see him through that he was trying to give HIMSELF confidence nearly as much as the crowd.
    For a very brief moment, I felt genuine, uncontemptuous pity for Howard Dean – real empathy. Then it faded away again and I remembered why I’m voting Bush ’04. But I still feel it’s somehow wrong (cosmically wrong? After all, he did it to himself, and that’s what REALLY hurts) for him to have been brought to this sad end.
    I have no idea why these pangs of sympathy for a person whom I ordinarily profess to despise have appeared recently. Is it wishy-washiness or just humanity?

  8. Steve in Houston says:

    Only speaking for myself, but really, the scream – separated from everything else – was no big deal.
    The scream – as part of the rich pageant that is Howard Dean and even more so his supporters – simply confirmed for me that he’s not someone I’d vote for. He doesn’t scare me, he makes me laugh. He’s a screamer. Calls attention to himself. Stirs up a bunch of crap for, apparently, the sole purpose of stirring up crap.
    And it was further confirmed by people afterwards congratulating him because “at least he seemed to care!” As if screaming and bouncing around somehow conveyed more seriousness and commitment than reasoned debate.
    Reminds me of Limp Bizkit, who makes such a huge production of screaming into a mike and laying down abusive guitar and drums tracks and sounds all hardcore and stuff … until you look at his lyrics and find out he’s whining about how much some girl hurt his feelings and how his parents are, like, so strict and stuff.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This post is from a Republican, Bush supporter, who also works in the TV industry (a rarity I know). If you really think you can know what really happened at a place and time by watching it on video or even live tv then you are very sadly mistaken. TV only gives you a very subjective picture of reality even when covering an event. In this case, yes the amatuer equipment was better becasue it gave you an angle you didn’t see with and had an omindirectional mic. The scream was yes midly funny, but for crying out loud can’t we debate what the guy stands for rather than latching on to some stupid soundbite as some window into his soul. For more examples of how audio equipment can change what people really sound like watch the Grammy’s and see how a really bad mix can make a singer sound like complete crap. Trust me I’ve probably stared at a TV screen for more hours than Home Simpson.

  10. Steve in Houston says:

    Oh, and he and his followers take themselves and their cause SO … VERY … SERIOUSLY, despite his protestations that he’s “trying to have a little fun.”

  11. Doctor Slack says:

    What a non-issue, compared to what is really on the line. Reminds me of the Kiss and the endless tripe written about that.
    Exactly. The Scream Meme says a lot more about the folks who propagated it, and are now trying to defend it (!), than it does about Dean.

  12. Chuck Olsen says:

    Of course, didn’t you hear? That’s why Joe Trippi was fired. The campaign had lengthy strategic meetings, voice coaches were brought in, test audiences. Dean’s scream was carefully, deliberately, almost mathematically calculated. Just like everything that comes out of his mouth. The man is practically devoid of emotion, incapable of an off-the-cuff remark or reaction. He’s a master of media manipulation

  13. Declan says:

    we’re still discussing the scream?? Mein Gott!!

  14. Jay Smooth says:

    “Calculated” to what end??

  15. Leonard Witt says:

    I am trying to reconstruct what really happend during the scream speech. Not because of Dean, but to see what reality is compared to what most Americans saw that night as reality on TV. In fact, what they saw 700 times.
    I have put a few of the pieces together at my blog. I would like to try to build this into a case study. I picked up from above. I have an interesting Dave Winer perspective. Anyone have other parts to fill in this puzzle? Send them over.
    The information I have so far illustrates the short comings of reporting and especially TV reporting. How can we fix it? To see my blog click on my name below. Of course, I will be referencing comments posted here. Thanks Jeff for getting this conversation started and thanks in advance for any more responses.

  16. Jeff Jarvis says:

    Leonard: C’mon, in campaigning TV IS the reality. Don’t buy into this spin the campaign is putting out — that is the real reality v. nonreality here.

  17. Leonard Witt says:

    Jeff, maybe TV IS your reality. It isn’t mine.
    The ABC story said the Scream clip was shown “700 times in a few days.” Plus remixed by all the for profit right wing commentators like James Lileks. Then one story, emphasis on the word one, runs on ABC and you call it Spin.
    What scares me most is that to most people in America TV is the reality. Of course, it is a distortion of reality. What we have to keeping repeating is TV IS NOT REALITY.
    My goal is to get as much information on my site as possible so people can take a look and make the decision themselves without you, me, Lileks and all the other intermediaries telling people what is true and what is not.

  18. Jeff Jarvis says:

    No, Leonard, you’re missing the reality: America isn’t New Hampshire. Every American can’t meet every candidate. Thus, we meet the candidates via TV. And the candidates play to TV NOT to live crowds whenever there are TV cameras present. And that is a GOOD thing for democracy. We get to see more of the candidates than we ever got to see before; in the old days, we had to read about them through a reporter’s eyes; now we get to see them in action and they get to speak directly to us. That’s media, man. That’s your business and mine. That’s reality.

  19. Angus Jung says:

    Any thoughts on the moon landing, Leonard?

  20. Leonard Witt says:

    Jeff, here is where we differ. Your business is media; mine is journalism. Unfortunately, too few people make the distinction any more. As a journalist I don

  21. stubby says:

    Steve in Houston: are you participating in any of the SuperBowl insanity? I took the train to Hermann Park to go walking this afternoon and it was packed; we were meeting people from all over. And my sister said downtown last night felt like MardiGras (without the risk of someone puking on you).

  22. Excellent points in that last post, Leonard. Basically, I think you and Jeff are both talking about reality, only the reality he’s referring to should have quotation marks around it.

  23. Jeff Jarvis says:

    My response to Leonard on his blog:
    Well, I was going to say that we were not at war, we were just having a discussion, until I read the rest of your post and found your all-too-snarky snipe: “Your business is media; mine is journalism.” Well, excuuuuuse me!
    Want to see my clips? Want to know about the stories I’ve covered? Want to know about my career in journalism? Pull up a chair and bring the beer. This is exactly the kind of talk that turns people off about journalism.
    And let me add: The priests don’t own the pulpit anymore. Look at those links on the right. That’s journalism now. The reformation is underway.

  24. Angus Jung says:

    “Indeed, that distorted vision of reality is so ingrained that to say TV Is Not Reality, has people like Angus Jung above comparing me to the moon landing conspiracy folks.”
    Yeah, that’s why I made that joke, Leonard. Nothing to do with your presentation.

  25. stubby says:

    Jeff: I think your reference to priests is very apt. The way many mainstream journalists are responding to blogs and to the changing landscape of information gathering – ie., by whining, snarking, sneering, pouting, denying the legitimacy of blogs or other online sources, or just refusing to admit that times are changin – reminds me of the Catholic Church’s response to the Reformation. All of a sudden, the priests are not the only route to God. All of a sudden people have decided that they can talk to God themselves, read the Bible for themselves, decide for themselves what the theology means. (I’m metroreligious, BTW – both Catholic and Baptist.) Some journalists act like they are administering a sacrament, and we should only look to them for Truth and guidance. Bah.

  26. onecent says:

    What scares me most is that to most people in America TV is the reality.
    Fear not, Leonard, most of us little people in America are quite capable of differentiating TV from reality. Only in your noblesse oblige journalist’s world(you’ve rather indicted yourself as a snob) are the little people that dumb.
    Your premise that “real” journalists such as youself, by which I presume you mean print, have any more integrity than TV is also bogus. The little people, of which I’m proudly one, don’t trust them to provide reality either.

  27. Leonard Witt says:

    Jeff, let me start off by apologizing. My media and journalism comment was snide and I regretted it not long after I sent it. My rage was not aimed at you, it was aimed at the sorry state of what used to be TV news and now is media entertainment. So when I think I hear anyone defending it

  28. Angus Jung says:

    Pretty much every victory or concession speech I’ve seen has been from the same perspective, with the camera straight-on the candidate from somewhere in the crowd. And the candidate is miked, of course. Unless there’s evidence that they treated Dean any differently than any other candidate, I’m not sure what the problem is. It’s not like they KNEW he was going to come on grinning like the Joker and screaming like a nut. The reason they played it 700 times is because it was fascinating to watch. Would you rather watch Lieberman mumbling about being in a three-way tie for third place 700 times?

  29. Frankly, it’s disappointing to hear someone so well versed in the blogosphere talk about TV as the sine qua non of political communication. Yes, it’s very important, and yes it’s true that most people still get to experience the candidates almost exclusively through TV, but for a journalist and blogger to throw up his hands and declare that TV is really the only medium that matters and any candidate who doesn’t shape themselves to suit the TV clip doesn’t deserve our consideration is truly disheartening. Are we really better “informed” in an the era of 15 second TV clips than when people had to actually read what a candidate had to say? Is the replaying of a few seconds of Dean’s speech ad nauseum really not “through a reporter’s eyes”? Do you think the people who saw Dean speak that night were alarmed at his demeanor in that hall?

  30. Angus Jung says:

    “Do you think the people who saw Dean speak that night were alarmed at his demeanor in that hall?”
    Harken looked a little taken aback…

  31. Jeff Jarvis says:

    Nathan: It’s not a value judgment; it’s just the reality of what the audience — the electorate, the citizenry — watches. The people get their news from TV; fact of life. Politicians play to the electorate on TV, of course; fact of politics. All the complaining and denying and wishing in the world won’t change that. So start from there.
    Angus: Yes, Harken looked as if he wished he were a Republican or a Canadian that night.

  32. Leonard Witt says:

    This isn

  33. Jeff Jarvis says:

    None of that changes the FACT that people get their news from TV and candidates play to TV and I have no problem with that; if the people want to watch TV then who am I to be a snob about that? I watch TV, too. Don’t you?
    To act as if you can change that with a blog is only naive.

  34. Leonard Witt says:

    Naive? That’s old think Jeff.
    I took a run and came back with an idea for a substantial project that maybe could change broadcast TV forever.
    A couple of days ago Jay Rosen at offered to let me make a free post at his site. It is going to be this idea. Will it be Naive? Maybe. But stay tuned and you and the rest of your readers can be the judge. You heard it here first.
    Of course, without this dialogue there would have been no idea. So thanks to you and your readers. I am really loving this blogging.

  35. Jonathan says:

    Yes, it’s a fact of life that all politics is played for the camera because we all watch TV. But what’s lamentable is that TRUTH and PERCEPTION seem to be so divergent and malleable by whomever controls the best electronics and technology.
    Shouldn’t the goal in a technologized democracy be to minimize the harm done in this manipulative culture to TRUTH. I see nothing but absolute moral timidity and rudderlessness in politics right now – produced by risk-averse anxiety about how a poll-tested audience will ‘buy’ you.
    I think the goal should be to use technology to close the gap between the fictional audience conceived electronically through polling, market-research, datamining and focus-grouping, and the very real audience of participants, humans and individual personalities.
    If the electronic ‘image’is the language we are stuck with in politics and war, perhaps the decrease in costs of video blogging, conferencing, and visualized informational presentation can guide us towards a more democratic and less mendacious and alienated future. One can only hope.

  36. Leonard Witt says:

    Jonathan: Exactly. We don’t have to put up with poorly or manipulatively presented information any more. We can look for and even develop alternative ways to get our information. We are doing it here. We have power. We just have to use it. Plus the trend line might be in our favor.

  37. Siegel Zoe says:

    He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.