Saturday, September 19, 2015


Six hours ago, Mark Halperin tweeted:

And yesterday, guests on the Fox News program The Five speculated that the now-famous questioner was a plant:
During a discussion of the incident that occurred on Thursday at a Trump town hall in New Hampshire, in which the GOP frontrunner refused to correct a supporter who not only spread false rumors about the president but also called for the eradication of Muslims from the United States, both Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling implied that the man in question was a “plant” or somehow not serious about his views.

“As far as Trump’s concerned with respect to this, I think that seems like a complete plant, it was a set up, it just sounds fake and phony and ridiculous,” Guilfoyle said of the man’s comments.

“It’s a joke, right?” Bolling agreed. “It’s almost comical the way it was delivered.”
While their Fox colleague tweeted:

I'm confused. Fox calls itself "The Most Powerful Name in News." Halperin's breakthrough book, Game Change, was praised as "a marvel of reporting," and Halperin and coauthor John Heilemann were said to "have an uncanny ability to get scoops other reporters don't."

So, um, if Halperin and Fox are such powerful news gatherers, such "uncanny" scoop-getters, why don't they know who this guy is?

Is it because discovering who he is would involve actual, y'know, reporting?

As far as I know, for all its awesome, top-ranked news power, Fox doesn't do actual reporting. Halperin and Heilemann do reporting of sorts, but the kind they do involves chatting up insidery insiders who have the inside skinny. Old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism is what would be required to find this guy. These days, high-level journalists don't sully themselves with that, do they?


The more this story circulates, the less I believe that the questioner was a plant. If he were a plant intended to put Trump on the spot regarding either President Obama or Muslims in general, I think he would have limited his targets to the president and/or Muslims as Muslims -- he wouldn't have bothered to bring up the alleged existence of terrorist training camps in the U.S., a notion that's very familiar on the right (and frequently promoted by Fox News), but unfamiliar to most non-conservatives. He would have kept it clean: Why can't we throw Hussein Obama in Gitmo? Why can't we just kill all the ragheads? His questioning was more complicated. So I think he was the real deal.

I'll note that he said he was from White Plains. There's no White Plains in New Hampshire or any contiguous state. I see from Twitchy that a lot of people believe he may be "Bill from White Plains," who made a name for himself with frequent calls to Don Imus's show (and who probably is a plant). But an Imus listener or viewer might decide to conceal his identity by using a name he's heard on Imus's show, so I'm not sure what that tells us.

In any case, a reporter ought to be able to find out. Are there any out there?

(Links via Mock Paper Scissors and Little Green Footballs.)


M. Bouffant said...

"training camps ... growing" is an odd turn of phrase, 'though it may have been nerves. And it sounded like "Walt from White Plains" to me. An homage?

I doubt if he was "planted" by anyone else (would've been better lines, as you said) but I'm still not sure he believed what he said, whatever his motivation.

And I'll guess Trump "liked this guy" because of the Trump T-shirt. Probably the best way to get Trump's attention in a crowd.

trnc said...

I don't know. On the one hand, if Fox says he was a plant, I'm inclined to think he wasn't because Fox doesn't really just not report - they go out of their way to push BS. On the other hand, I don't think the lack of of a focused question totally rules out plantitude. Trump doesn't speak like a professional and most of his campaign seems to be pretty half-assed, so why not find some guy in the crowd 5 minutes before showtime and say, "Hey, how about throwing out a question about Obama being a muslim?" A plant doesn't have to be a completely scripted and rehearsed staffer.

Yastreblyansky said...

Ingraham, clearly, is trying to finger the Bush campaign, which is silly; if they're playing dirty tricks on him it will be something designed to make him look "liberal", like the thing a Bush team pulled 16 years ago with McCain's adopted daughter. Halperin's trying to incite drama. I liked your earlier hypothesis (and tmc's) that the guy was Trump's own plant a lot better than you liked it yourself, but I guess you're right, there's no particular need for him to be anything but an ordinary Trump fan.

All this talk is meant, beyond particular agendas and perhaps unconsciously, by sheer Village instinct, to distract people from what Trump himself actually said, that he was "looking at" genocide as a solution to this "problem". Not that they care especially about Trump but that they want to deny (to themselves as well as to their audiences) that such ideas could bubble up out of the process.

Jack said...

White Plains NY is about a four hour drive from where Trump was speaking. People from the suburbs north of NYC go to New Hampshire and Vermont routinely; it's right in their backyard. The guy could easily get there and back home with plenty of time for the Trump even before the sun goes down.

mlbxxxxxx said...

He seemed like the stereotypical Trump voter to me.