June 28, 2008
Over at EU Referendum under the heading “Caught red-handed” there is an instructive YouTube video. It shows a bunch of MEPs showing up at their place of work at quarter to seven in the morning. Exemplary devotion to duty? Well, no. What they are actually doing, suitcases in hand, is signing the attendance register on a Friday morning before heading home for the weekend. Then they will be paid, most lavishly, for working that day.
The cat really lands among the pigeons around 2 minutes 30 seconds in. Watch the MEPs dodge back behind doors as they register the camera’s unwelcome presence. Listen to the cries and squeals. “It is not your business!” “Such impertinence!” I did not catch the name of the genial chap who claimed to be about to start work in his constituency before running for the door, but Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott (of, I am sorry to say, the EU-sceptic Independence and Democracy Group) said she had already been at work for seven hours, and Hiltrud Breyer of the German Green Party really ought to look at people when she talks to them.
We bloggers often criticise the mainstream media but I take my hat off to Thomas Meier, the intrepid journalist here. He represents a tradition of – literally – foot-in-the-door reporting that the “colleagues” would like to put an end to if they could. In this case, as soon as they could, they did. The fun ends with Herr Meier being escorted out by seven heavies.
Here’s the video.
UPDATE: Okay, actually, despite the praise above this is amateur hour, even if it’s being done by professionals. What you do is, you start staking out this space every week. And you have a second (concealed) camera covering what’s done to the guy with the open camera. Then — since the security guards threw out an accredited journalist with a right to be there — you sue everybody in sight; doesn’t matter if you win (though you should) because it’s more publicity. And you start tailing the MEPs on Friday to see where they actually are on Fridays after having signed in.
If you’re really serious, that is. Note that Big Media folks don’t do this much, because they fear the blowback. And bloggers, well . . . we’re just getting started at this kind of thing. Give us time.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Louisiana . . . .