Some lawmakers in Austin are upset about being pursued by camera crews and agressive questioners working for the American Phoenix Foundation.
But readers in online Star-Telegram comments Wednesday (The daily STEW question for the day) mostly echoed statements like this one: “These days, one must assume that he or she is on camera at all times.”
And like this: “Politicians need to be asked provocative questions.”
The readers are right, and most politicians know that’s the world they live in. But some of the legislators make good points, too.
State Rep. Charlie Geren compared the questioners to “sleazebags in politics” and said one of them “appeared to be a stalker,” the Texas Tribune reported.
Some lawmakers complained to the Department of Public Safety, which is in charge of security at the Capitol.
Still, unless there really is a threat to safety, people have a right to question public officials, even aggressively, and to capture their responses on video.
In the case of the American Phoenix Foundation, some of its efforts and those of individuals connected to the organization in the past have been called smear tactics, and selective editing of video turned out to present a less-than-accurate portrayal of actual events.
Foundation spokesman John Beria said the efforts in Austin, targeting legislators who say one thing on the campaign trail and then “act like total moral hypocrites” once elected, will show bad behavior.
“Our lawyers think there are some admissions and there are some actions that would be criminal on the legislators’ part,” he told the Tribune.
He said initial release of the video could come this summer, in the form of short vignettes instead of showing the entire video because “it would be tough for people to sit through that much bad behavior.”
That’s where we differ. All of the video should be posted online.
People should have the opportunity not only to see what their elected officials are doing, but also to check on whether American Phoenix Foundation is accurately presenting it to them.