I must say, I had some similar thoughts about what appeared to be happening during the speech Ted Cruz gave at a New York City GOP dinner on Thursday night.
All three of the Republican candidates spoke at the dinner. Cruz was the final speaker; Trump and Kasich had already given their addresses. I listened to the speeches on Fox, which carried the bulk of each speech live during the evening-show broadcasts.
Trump’s and Kasich’s speeches went off without a hitch. Kasich’s was his usual boilerplate. Trump’s dwelt at some length on the challenges of pouring concrete for building foundations, which didn’t seem to be a metaphor. It’s something that animates him, obviously, and he was in front of a home crowd. They didn’t need to hear a stump speech, and wouldn’t have responded well to one anyway. (The folks at this dinner are many of the people who’d just as soon keep the supply of illegals coming, thank you, and whose views on China are colored by their business dealings with big Chinese companies.)
When Fox cut to Cruz’s speech, it was pretty boilerplate-y too, like Kasich’s, for several minutes. Not that you’ll find me tiring of political speeches, of course.
But then, something seemed to happen to the audio. It happened instantaneously. It wasn’t like the audio cut out, and after some ponderous seconds of non-performance, someone got it restored, or whipped together another arrangement on the fly. No, the audio shift happened at the snap of a finger.
You could hear Cruz over his microphone at the podium, and then all of a sudden, with no break in between, you couldn’t hear him over the speaker’s mic. You could only hear him as if from a distance – and you could hear everyone else in the room talking, breathing, coughing, and clinking glasses and silverware.
The impression the TV viewer then had was that everyone in the room was talking, and no one was paying attention to Cruz. Cruz could hardly be heard over the din. At that point, we weren’t watching Cruz’s speech anymore. Someone had arranged for us to hear the dinner crowd apparently ignoring Cruz’s speech.
Now, my immediate thought was, I bet if the audio had been similarly switched during the Kasich speech, or even the Trump speech, it would have sounded much the same. People do tend in such banquet-hall venues to murmur, and keep slurping their coffee and clinking forks on plates, during after-dinner speeches. (Although see Limbaugh’s comments below.)
It still seems unlikely to me that New Yorkers are so different from the rest of us that they would have deliberately acted, en masse, like a bunch of baby animals dragged in from the back pasture when Ted Cruz got up to speak. I really find that hard to believe.
Sean Hannity looked a bit flummoxed when Fox cut back to him, before Cruz’s speech was over, as the audio remained weird. I suspect Fox decided not to keep going with the speech because there was no point in it. Hannity’s thought was what most people’s probably was: that New Yorkers may have been showing their disgust with Cruz over his infamous “New York values” line.
But that’s so juvenile and petty, I’m just not convinced. I did see an NBC story on the audio cut-out on Friday, which framed the event exactly as its impressions implied. If you want to, you can buy the narrative that New Yorkers, in a snit-fit of bargain-basement righteousness, stuck it to Cruz by making jackasses of themselves. But even in this late hour of a desperate civilization, I think better of them than that.
So it was quite interesting to see that Rush Limbaugh interpreted the event pretty much the same way I did (h/t: Western Journalism). He was more emphatic that someone was sabotaging Cruz, and intentionally setting up the narrative latched onto by NBC. Limbaugh even suggests that the NBC story was planted.
His description of the startling audio shift mirrors my experience. I have his conclusion about what happened in bold:
[I]t was striking. Cruz was speaking the one moment and then a cacophony, I mean literally in a split second. …
The change had occurred totally at the New York GOP affair.
So I studied it, I looked at it, and in 30 seconds I figured out what happened. They had cut Ted Cruz’s microphone at the podium and they had replaced it with what sounded like microphones at five or six tables where you heard nothing but the table noise. …
I stayed riveted for the Fox News Channel to fix it. Five minutes went by… Then another two minutes went by and then there was silence for a couple seconds. “A-ha,” I said, “they’re gonna fix it.” But when it came back, it was all the same. I could not hear Ted Cruz. Cruz had no idea. He’s still up there gesticulating, he’s doing his normal speech…
Limbaugh then started checking Twitter to see what was being said about this.
I finally saw a [Twitter] thread, and I was even more impressed. I was even more incredulous, because the thread had a theme. You know what the theme was? Cruz was so boring, Cruz was so bad, Cruz is so hated that nobody listened to him. We had Drive-By Media supposedly on site as witnesses tweeting and reporting that nobody listened to Cruz, that the crowd was getting up and walking around and milling around and being rude, that the whole room had tuned Cruz out.
As Limbaugh took his listeners through the audio, he said that dinner itself – not dessert, which I assumed the eating noise was from, but the main course – was not even served until Cruz’s speech was about to begin. If Rush is right about that, then it seems that Trump and Kasich, who spoke before the food was served, did have an advantage in terms of audio conditions and the diners’ attention.
Now, I don’t have the knowledge or evidence to draw the conclusion Limbaugh does:
I just smiled. I said, “Whoever put this together is a genius.” ‘Cause they have coordinated every bit of this. In the first place, they sabotaged Cruz, then they get to the media and make it look like what happened was totally natural, Cruz is hated, despised, everybody started ignoring him.
You can decide how you feel about that. But I can say that there are two propositions here. Either someone put this together, orchestrating it to look as if New Yorkers went out of their way to diss Cruz, or the Republicans in New York City were raised in a barn and have worse manners than a pack of jackals. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, and assuming it’s not the latter.
The audio shift occurs at about the 12:30 mark in the video.