OTHER VOICES

Governor must accept ‘trackers’

Posted Dec. 06, 2012, at 2:09 p.m.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage may not like it but when a politician speaks in public, it is wise to assume a newspaper reporter, TV crew or political tracker is recording every word and gesture.

Just ask Mitt Romney. During the presidential campaign, a damaging video surfaced of Romney speaking to a supposedly private gathering of friendly donors.

A hidden camera on a table in the back of the room recorded Romney saying, basically, that half the country’s voters wouldn’t support him because they received government assistance.

Or ask Sen.-elect Angus King who had a Republican Party tracker following him throughout his campaign hoping to catch the former governor saying something damaging.

King even pointed out his tracker during a debate in Lewiston at the Franco-American Heritage Center, making a minor celebrity of the camera man.

Trackers have been employed by both major political parties for a number of years to gather the oppositional video used in negative political advertising.

Trackers may be despised, but we live in an open society, and they must be accepted as part of the electronic-era landscape.

The scrutiny must be unusually difficult for LePage, who rarely speaks from a script and sometimes lets his temper get the best of him.

As a result, the governor rarely speaks to the state’s media and does nearly all of his communicating through his staff and his public appearances.

That’s unfortunate, but that is LePage’s prerogative.

On the other hand, the governor doesn’t get to set his own ground rules when he speaks in public or meets publicly with citizens.

In an era of social media and cell phone cameras, elected officials should expect that every public utterance is on camera and on the record.

Sun Journal, Lewiston (Dec. 6)

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