The Colorado Springs Gazette: Be nice to trackers, but keep them bored
Author: The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board - August 17, 2018 - Updated: August 17, 2018
Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser sounds like a reasonable, compassionate man. So it was strange to see his campaign make headlines this week for body shaming a young person doing his job.
“I’ve dedicated my life to law, justice and public service. Because, for me, helping others and protecting our values has never been a choice,” Wesier says on his campaign website.
The site talks about protecting the American dream for “every Coloradan.” It promises “equal justice for all.”
We love this quote Weiser shares from his grandmother.
“Stay grateful, stay positive, and always believe the best in people.” — my grandmother’s approach to life
That’s all good stuff, but the campaign’s Twitter feed reads more like President Donald Trump attacking Rosie O’Donnell. Except the target isn’t a public figure.
A young campaign tracker follows Weiser throughout his day, putting in long hours for low pay.
Like all trackers, “Pat” carries a camera and records stump events. Campaigns, political action committees, and political parties hire trackers to gather intel and record potential gaffes and mishaps of opposing campaigns.
This is such a growing field, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez wants to unionize trackers.
Often politicians and their supporters befriend opposing trackers, despite the confrontational nature of the relationships. That is how it should be. None of this should be personal. Besides, it is wise to hold friends close and an enemy’s trackers much closer.
Weiser’s campaign made it personal this week, publicly ridiculing the tracker for his size. It began when Weiser posted a photo of Pat and complained about the tracker following him around.
When a Weiser supporter targeted “Pat” with a joke about his girth, the candidate should have frowned on the tweet. Instead, his official campaign account piled on: “Yes. Team Phil just fell off its chair laughing. Fact.”
Another official campaign tweet suggested more “walking events to help Pat’s health.” Other fat shaming ensued, attracting attention in Washington.
“AG candidate’s campaign Body-Shames Oppo Group’s Video Tracker,” reads a headline in The Washington Free Beacon.
“It looks like this Democrat running for state office just now learned about campaign trackers,” says The Washington Examiner.
The campaign later tweeted the comments were “written in error.”
“I’ve tweeted dumb things and apologized. But I don’t know what ‘written in error’ means,” tweeted Denver’s KUSA Anchor Kyle Clark.
Weiser later tweeted from his personal account: “I am strongly against mocking someone’s appearance. I also oppose the intimidation of someone hovering and filming when having a conversation with citizens in Alamosa or Ordway. That happened. But what’s worse is that the filming is to generate misleading attack ads.”
This falls short of the apology Weiser should extend to Pat. Trackers will always be part of political campaigns, and it is never good to cross them.
Campaign season has barely begun. It gets fast and furious the day after Labor Day. Candidates from both parties should focus on substantive topics and be careful with Twitter.
We need less Klan shaming, body shaming and other politics of personal destruction. Be nice to the trackers, but keep them bored.
Read this editorial at Gazette.com