Dean Scream Redux
January 30, 2004 7:08 AM   Subscribe

It has been said that reality is all about perspective -- a camera is a pinhole view of the world that frequently filters out much of the story. With that in mind, check out this video of the familiar "I have a scream" speech by Dean. I'm no Dean supporter, but from down in the trenches it doesn't look nearly as bad as it played on TV. Obviously the video you've seen on the news has the best part and the audience noise turned down, but from this vantage point, the speech almost seems appropriate for the crowd and the moment (but was still a lapse in judgement to forget cameras were rolling). I hope this isn't too subtle of a point -- forget all the politics involved -- this is a fascinating look at a familiar scene that was looped for the past week, but from an entirely different perspective and a different story emerges. [via Vidiot]
posted by mathowie (51 comments total)
Again -- I want to be clear -- I'm not a huge fan of Dean and this isn't to score points with Dean followers or whitewash what happened to him in the media last week. It's just that I've seen and heard the yelling of states part looped over and over again, in dozens of remixes, and seeing this video a completely perspective comes across.
posted by mathowie at 7:18 AM on January 30, 2004

It has been said that reality is all about perspective

That's why the Internet is so important — to get as many perspectives as possble out into the 'reality.' We don't have to take CNN's (or anybody's) word for anything any longer, if someone who actually was there can post video like this.

As for Dean, it all comes down to whether the media decides it likes you or not. (As one old-time newspaper photographer said to his editor, "Do you want a picture of [my subject] picking his nose or looking at the sunset?"] If the media says you're O.K., you're calm and intelligent; it not, you're dull and uninspiring. O.K., you're alive and enthusiastic; not O.K., you're a raving loon.

What was he supposed to do in that situation, come out like a dead fish and mope around on stage in a room full of his supporters?
posted by LeLiLo at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2004

Seems to me like passion would be a good thing in a leader.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2004

"I have a scream"

Hehhe-ehe .... yer killin' me, Matt.
posted by RavinDave at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2004

It really loses it's farce appeal without the YEAAARRH....and his voice sounds much more modulated in the abve link.

This stuff more and more reminds me of a Homecoming King election.
posted by Dagobert at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2004

I feel sorry for Dean. As anyone can see by watching more than just a 3 second clip, he was caught up in the excitement of the moment.

The media can largely be blamed for overplaying the short clips and probably even costing him a democratic nomination. (He was looking much better in NH until the "YEAAGH" was overplayed.)

Still, not sure if I would vote for him or not, in a caucus situation.
posted by graventy at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2004

Remarks by the President to the Press Pool, Nothin' Fancy Cafe, Roswell, New Mexico. Again: forget all the politics involved...
posted by nthdegx at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2004

Is there any way to get this perspective other exposure than on a few web blogs? I mean, can a web campaign get the media to show THIS version as a contrast to the American people, to make up for what they did to Dean?
posted by CrazyJub at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2004

Yes, yes...we all know that "the media" latches on to photo-ops and soundbites -- they've been doing it for years -- to politicians & celebrities of EVERY stripe. The hysteria & silliness over Dean's very temporary lapse into the upper range of voice modulation & pitch was a blip - technically of little or no consequence. But when people are appraising the Presidential candidates, shopping for the best overall package, and every single one of the candidates offers the same bromides and cliches as every other candidate, even a teeny-tiny little thing such as the Scream takes on greater significance.

Right? Wrong? No - just reality.
posted by davidmsc at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2004

nthdegx, I was actually thinking of the "I want some ribs" thing when I wrote this post up. Bush's ribs press has been broadcast across many blogs as another "hee haw, look at how dumb dubya is" story, but it'd be great if there was someone there that tape recorded or filmed it as I bet he was joking around with reporters and it was probably completely normal and human to kid your press buddies like that, even though it looks bad on paper.
posted by mathowie at 7:55 AM on January 30, 2004


I understand the late night talk show value of the clip, but who the hell interested in Dean before that speech lost their interest because of it? I don't give a poop about him as a candidate, and yet I still don't see what's so bad about his "judgement" in getting all riled up like that.

The "Developers Developers Developers" speech given by Steve Ballmer the other year was actually unsettling and freakish.

I think the "I want some ribs" thing is freaking awesome. Catch Bush on C-SPAN talking to reporters and jawwing it up and he's a riot sometimes.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:58 AM on January 30, 2004

Seems to me like passion would be a good thing in a leader. - hugh2d2
Passion is a bad thing in a leader. A leader needs to be a cooperator, a coordinator, a cool center around which things can happen. A passionate leader is a disaster for a company, a nation, a band... That said, Dean is being royally screwed by the media's obsession with this speech, and this clip is a welcome corrective to the distorted view that is currently being hammered down elsewhere.
posted by Faze at 7:58 AM on January 30, 2004

mathowie, I think you're right. I saw the video the day all the hype started, and when everyone ELSE started going nuts over it, I was confused. I just assumed everyone had seen the full clip on TV. I was wrong.

I lost a lot of respect for the media over this.
posted by aaronshaf at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2004

The hysteria & silliness over Dean's very temporary lapse into the upper range of voice modulation & pitch was a blip

I completely agree. Anyone that's ever sung in a band, or done public speaking in a raucous, pep-rally environment knows that this is exactly the sort of thing that can happen with the crowd noise level is greater than the monitor volume, i.e.: when you get caught up in the moment, or you just can't hear yourself. The media's not stop harping on this has been nothing short of disgraceful.
posted by psmealey at 8:05 AM on January 30, 2004

I haven't seen any of the commentary re: the ribs story, but to me it reads very favourably towards Bush, knowingly poking fun at the press contingent. Again, I'm no fan, but it was nice to see a fresh perspective.
posted by nthdegx at 8:06 AM on January 30, 2004

Passion is a bad thing in a leader

I think there's a difference in passion and emotion. I think passion for the job and the people is good, but I would hope that emotion doesn't come into play when decisions are made. Emotion = rash decisions.

Not that my life is anything like running the country, but I've found personally the best decisions I've made in sticky situations were the ones I could completely divest my personal emotions from and make the best choice. Using emotion to make decisions gets you into heaps of trouble in any walk of life (fights, wars, arguments).

Of course you can take that too far -- no one liked the Gore-bot in 2000 due to a seeming lack of passion and emotion.
posted by mathowie at 8:06 AM on January 30, 2004

A passionate leader is a disaster for a company, a nation, a band...

I'm afraid I can't phrase my argument concerning this statement and how wrong it is on so many levels, so I'm going to go with my first instinct:


On preview, what He said.
posted by biffa at 8:13 AM on January 30, 2004

Completely fascinating... everyone should circulate this link. (and apologies for the long post)

The first time I heard the speech was on NPR, the morning after the speech. The crowd noise was not prominent, and most notably, the scream at the end was not included. They played the exact speech segment that everyone has heard, but not the very end. I suspect someone who knew the acoustics of the situation must have recognized that they captured a sound that was far different out of context.

Within 12-24 hours, the scream was included on NPR. It almost felt like a pile-on, since he was the front runner and lost. I soon saw the media's video, and thought that with the visual context it sounded much less harsh.

Now that I've seen this video, I'm appalled. It's almost sick thinking about it. Seeing the speech in context and extended, I was actually pretty impressed -- I felt the passion and conviction as he talked about not giving up.

The press coverage of the speech could have gone either way. They could have presented it as the former front runner making an impassioned speech and vowing to continue, or they could have presented it as the second place candidate losing it.

The most frustrating part for me is that television commentators have spent the past week chuckling about the speech, rolling their eyes -- even liberal speakers have conveyed some degree of blushing. Nobody bothered to get any context, and instead allowed this story to continue.

On preview, to techgnollogic's point about the value of the clip, it is actually extremely important how the candidates come across in the aftermath of the first two measures of popularity. The winners of Iowa and New Hampshire receive renewed investment and interest for obvious reasons.

An embarrassing clip circulating in the press incessantly during a critical week can very well make the difference for a campaign. (See Wille Horton for how one seemingly small piece can make a big difference. Dean isn't releasing murderers, but this clip is as pervasive.)

posted by VulcanMike at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2004

It's almost as much about sound design as a visual perspective. In the media's clips, the hoarseness of Dean's voice is really amped up, and sort of makes him sound like the exorcist. In this footage, where his voice is buried in the aural mix, it's more natural.

Rational passion is the new fashion!
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2004

Total self-control under all circumstances and total mastery of managing the media are two important job requirements for being President.
posted by fuzz at 8:24 AM on January 30, 2004

It's remarkable to me that this single speech as hacked up has done more to aim Kerry toward the nomination than anything else. I have very serious doubts that Kerry is a credible anti-Bush candidate, but the media has shaped things such that nobody else will emerge. Between the mean spirited sniping not just by the other candidates but the media, there probably was no real hope for a Dean candidacy.
posted by shagoth at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2004

Is there any way to get this perspective other exposure than on a few web blogs?

Actually, the ABC evening news played a similar clip two (?) nights ago. Peter Jennings seemed genuinely contrite about the overkill, and had statements from network news execs at "all the major news outlets except NBC" stating that a line had been crossed. There's a link to the video here, but it's "premium content".

That report also commented that the mike recording Dean's voice is one specfically designed to filter out background noise, so the crowd noise level is drastically lowered.
posted by donnagirl at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2004

A video posted by a Dean supporter isn't an objective source.
posted by smackfu at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2004

I think what some people fail to realize is that Dean was never the "favorite" until his fund-raising campaign became an enormous success. At that point, people began to flock to his camp. The reason, in my opinion, that he was never a favorite, as opposed to Kerry or Gephardt, was because he was always viewed as being slightly unstable and without foreign policy experience.

The DNC knew that Dean was a little wacko. Just listen to his presentation and style, without your love for all things Dean, and you'll understand why Bush and Co. WANT him to win the primaries. Kerry's very "left", but he's a traditional politician, who is more likely to win over independent voters in the mainstream election. Dean, on the other hand, is a one-hit wonder who really hasn't demonstrated depth (to the public).

Anyway, this event helped undecided voters "understand" Dean's instability. Of course you need passion, emotion, conviction, and a large amount of other admirable characteristics. But you also need a cool demeanor and even temper. These are also crucial elements to a winning personality. Dean demonstrated a lack of restraint and control, which turned off many voters. I'll be interested to see how he recovers.

FWIW, Dean still has a good shot of winning. He just needs to create a more deep campaign persona. Enough with the "Get out of Iraq" chants. Not all of us are single issue voters.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2004

How is unedited video not an objective source? Especially in light of the EDITED versions that are being shown with an obvious agenda?
posted by terrapin at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2004

Dean seemed to get all mealy mouthed and regretful about the speech under the hot lamps of media focus and AC/DC remixes. He should have maintained the fire and treated the press scrutiny of this as laughable. Instead he wimped out about it. I don't know how he would have effectively pushed this tape or one like it. Maybe put it on his website and brought it up every time he was asked about it. Kerry is the obvious beneficiary of the media hype about the scream. I really don't think Kerry can beat Bush (though I really like his wife, thanx for that link last week Sr. Cardaso) and will be smoked like Dukakis. I think Bush and crew are hoping Edwards is an also ran.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2004

A video posted by a Dean supporter isn't an objective source.

My point in posting this was not to get at objectivity, but to merely point out how different two subjective accounts of the same event can be.

Remember the photos of Saddam's statue being pulled down by soldiers on TV vs. the photos that circulated on the web, vs. the explanations of why the photos looked so different?
posted by mathowie at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2004

Sounds like Dean would make a fantastic WWE announcer.
posted by tomorama at 8:48 AM on January 30, 2004

Bingo, tomorama.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2004

Dean seemed to get all mealy mouthed and regretful about the speech under the hot lamps of media focus and AC/DC remixes. He should have maintained the fire and treated the press scrutiny of this as laughable. Instead he wimped out about it.

Actually, I think he has handled it quite well. He held his own in the PrimeTime interview (Diane Sawyer has just become excruciatingly bad--I read somewhere that there were 96 questions in that interview, and 90 of them were either about the speech or about his temper), and he did a pretty good job of making fun of himself on Letterman and the Daily Show.
posted by whatnot at 8:52 AM on January 30, 2004

Um, apart from this post I haven't seen much of the Dean Scream in the media or the "blogosphere" for days now. People seem to already have accepted that the guy was a bit hoarse after a hard campaign... so what.

Don't forget that the scream came after Dean's sudden poll decline. You can't blame Dean's loss of momentum on the media's mockery of that incident.

I think Dean's problems aren't due to the media, they're down to Dean. His plan (like many) was to start on the passionate left and move to the center, but it didn't come off. It's hard to take seriously a guy who's an agnostic on Monday and a passionate Christian on Wednesday; an outsider stickin' it to those Dem bigwigs one minute, and the endorsed favorite of Ted Kennedy, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter the next.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:02 AM on January 30, 2004

Re the media did this, the media did that

I hate to see that kind of talk. Metafilter is the media too.
You have to differentiate it. There's a difference between Fox playing it over and over again for laughs on its commentary shows and the somewhat more restrained coverage in print or on mainstream networks. The fact is, the scream was a matter of conversation in the public before it got played up, and overplayed. It has been referenced in posts here many many times and on many blog entries, for example. People found it interesting. In the end, I doubt it had much effect in New Hampshire. The real issue with Dean is that he lost in Iowa despite outspending everyone, because his ads and his organization was enthusiastic but unorganized and inexperienced. Then he lost again in New Hampshire for the same reasons. The scream is arguably just one symptom of a candidate known for "speaking his mind" in ways that turned off some Democratic voters and made them nervous. Voters in primaries are rather sophisticated... They are not puppets of the media or TV ads or blogs. The media wrote off Kerry and Edwards, and played up Clark and Dean, but the voters have decided otherwise. So far. Dean could still come back, but it's amazing that he raised the most money of anyone and has completely pissed it all away. The media didn't mismanage his campaign finances. There are some bad megaphones out there, Fox primarily, but most of the media coverage has been fair though typically overheated and focused on the usual b.s. But the usual b.s. is part of the campaign, it's a fact of life, and if you as a candidate don't know how it works -- you don't deserve to be president.
posted by Slagman at 9:14 AM on January 30, 2004

1. I never understood what the big fuss was about -- maybe because I've been to so many political rallies, and I could put it in context.

2. I don't think Dean was ever doing as well as the media projected. Yes, he was ahead in polls, but I think that was because Dean was *everywhere* in the media. I think the media were slow to see the organization that was developing in Iowa because they were so focused on Dean the Celebrity. What works on the national front amongst 18-to 30-year-olds doesn't necessarily work on retired Iowans. (As an aside, I think our Electoral College is utterly ridiculous and outdated.)

3. I really hope that the open-minded Dean supporters don't dismiss Kerry without looking at his record. I actually support Kerry because I felt that his proposals are more progressive than Dean's -- that is, I think they will help the middle class, the working class, the uninsured, the unemployed, etc.
posted by jennak at 9:20 AM on January 30, 2004

Ted Kennedy endorsed Kerry, not Dean.
posted by jennak at 9:21 AM on January 30, 2004

"I think Dean's problems aren't due to the media, they're down to Dean."

Agreed. The man has a great start, but a poor finish. If he can do a stellar job of rallying supporters, but makes himself look like a dufus over and over to the country at large, he *will* lose the nomination.

The dufus vote tends to go to the conservative candidates cough bush cough. Dean is trying to appeal to smart people. There is no smart-dufus voter block.

The yell was just icing on the cake. Look at when this happened. He was expecting to win easily just a few weeks earlier. People had already started not liking him way before the yell.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:23 AM on January 30, 2004

if you as a candidate don't know how it works -- you don't deserve to be president.

Fair enough. As far as I'm concerned, the story this week was that two guys from New England finished 1-2 in New Hampshire. All of this chatter from the media about front-runners, polling data, crocodile tears for Joe Trippi and presumptive nominees in the media is asinine in the extreme. A lot can happen in February.
posted by psmealey at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2004

"A video posted by a Dean supporter isn't an objective source."

Diane Sawer admits the media went overboard.
posted by CrazyJub at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2004

I think Bush is a dumbass but the Eat Ribs transcript really didn't seem dumb to me at all. I saw humour in it but not at Bush's expense. If you've got a press corps hounding you everyplace you go I don't think you'd be human if you didn't occasionally have a little fun with them.

I also didn't see Dean's roar as a strike against him either. First, I figured that it was out of context and possibly edited. Second, passion is a good thing even if it occasionally makes you say or do something that other people might choose to poke fun at. At least he didn't passionately invade another country.

I agree with others here that Dean's problem is Dean.
posted by substrate at 9:45 AM on January 30, 2004

I lost a lot of respect for the media

Welcome to the club! Keep in mind this is normal behavior for corporate media so everything needs a bs filter.

Total self-control under all circumstances and total mastery of managing the media are two important job requirements for being President.

Oh yeah? Please explain how Bush ended up in the White House then (remember the "first class asshole" remark?). No one has "total self-control under all circumstances" or "total mastery of managing the media."
posted by nofundy at 9:53 AM on January 30, 2004

How is unedited video not an objective source?

I'll bite. Every time any event is filtered, anywhere, by anybody, it becomes subjective. Raw video is subjective. Perhaps less subjective than tightly edited video, but subjective nonetheless. Lighting and how it shows up on videotape, sound and how it shows up on videotape, camera framing, color balance, etc. all contribute to how that video is perceived.

As a journalist, my job isn't to be "objective." That, by definition, can't happen. I have my perspective, and so do editors, producers, and the myriad other gatekeepers. What is my responsibility is to be fair, evenhanded, and not distort the news.

This Dean scream, and its effects, remind me of Nixon not wearing makeup in the Chicago debate, or Muskie crying in the snow, or Eagleton's poor handling of his medical history. We'll see if it ends up having the same effect.
posted by Vidiot at 10:07 AM on January 30, 2004

MetaFilter: We're the media, too.

From CrazyJub's link:

Fox News: "It got overplayed a bit, and the public clearly thought that, too, and kept him alive for another round." -- Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO - Fox News

I had wondered about the sympathy angle myself. And I don't really think the media are "out to get him." Like him or not, he is the most interesting candidate right now. His stumbles, triumphs and tragedies make great entertainment.

... he is the little doctor that could!

(on preview: good points, nofundy!)
posted by whatnot at 10:07 AM on January 30, 2004

The liberal media obviously is trying to ruin Dean's campaign to make way for their favorite, Kucinich.
posted by cell divide at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2004

My favorite was when some professor said on NBC News that the speech was "one of the biggest political blunders in HISTORY." I didn't think it was that big a deal when I saw it on TV and now that I've seen the whole speech in context, complete with lead-in and crowd noise, it's even less of a big deal.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2004

Thanks for posting this - definitely a VERY different, more true-to-the-moment perspective than anything I've seen so far...

Maybe this 'internet' isn't so bad after all. ;)
posted by skechada at 10:52 AM on January 30, 2004

Kerry's very "left", but he's a traditional politician, who is more likely to win over independent voters

I thought people hated traditional politicians, which is why they are always blathering on about "the grass roots" and trying to look like they don't spend all day breathing legislative nitrous. How does Kerry's inside-the-Beltway aroma make him *more* appealing?
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2004

Can someone explain to me what is so "ultra-left wing" about Dean anyway? From what I can see he's pretty moderate.
posted by CrazyJub at 11:57 AM on January 30, 2004

Because that's the Republican spin--Dean is from the loony left, Al Gore said he invented the internet, earth tones, blah blah blah--becoming received opinion because no one in corporate media ever bothers to check the facts.

I heard Cokie Roberts on NPR the other day saying Al Gore used WIllie Horton first--WRONG: Gore had never heard of Willie Horton when he brought up the prison furloughs in a debate with Michael Dukakis--a program which was started by a Republican governor, no less, to alleviate prison overcrowding. A Republican opposition researcher discovered the story of Willie Horton and Lee Atwater got to play the race card--what an unusual tactic [NOT] for a Republican attack ad--put a black man's sinister face on what began with Gore's anonymous allegation.

You have Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage repeat a lie enough times and then you find Cokie Roberts carrying water for the elephant. But does Cokie repeat the George W. Bush was a deserter meme, a story with some real factual meat on the bone? No-o-o-o-o....
posted by y2karl at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2004

Being an ultra-conservative, I too couldn't understand the fascination with it after I had seen the entire speech. Like mathowie said, especially when you factor in the crowd and the like. Total non-issue that has become fodder for late night talk shows and radio.
posted by Plunge at 2:58 PM on January 30, 2004

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:42 PM on January 30, 2004

For the best analysis I've seen of Dean's scream in context of this audience video, the media's need for a narrative, and mythic scripts... see Prof. John Schott's Ratchet Up : Howard Dean's "I Have A Scream Speech": Meeting Event Becomes Media Event
posted by Dok Millennium at 3:47 AM on February 1, 2004

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