Politics

Undercover Romney Video Gives Unprecedented Visibility To SF Magazine

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A screen shot of the Mother Jones web site displaying the story of the Romney fundraiser hidden video. (CBS)

A screen shot of the Mother Jones web site displaying the story of the Romney fundraiser hidden video. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – On an average day, the Mother Jones website gets about 150,000 views, but after they released undercover video of Mitt Romney, hits jumped to two million in a matter of minutes. The San Francisco magazine’s co-editor discussed how they got their hands on the video in an interview with CBS 5.

The leaked video of Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser shows the Republican presidential nominee describing the majority of President Obama’s supporters as people who are “dependent on government” and “believe that they are victims.”

In a second clip from the same event, released the following day, Romney is shown saying that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel and suggested that efforts at Mideast peace under his administration would languish.

The magazine said it had obtained the video of a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 17, giving the small publication worldwide attention. Clara Jeffery has spent the last six years as co-editor of Mother Jones, and she had been sitting on the story for a few weeks.

“We were negotiating the exclusivity of it and making sure we were comfortable with the source and he was comfortable with us,” recalled Jeffery.

They were initially going to hold off releasing the video until Tuesday, but pressure from competitors put the plan into overdrive.

“Its been a while since I’ve sprinted through the newsroom, but there was sort of that Holly Hunter broadcast news moment where we were all running around making sure all the things were coming together right,” said Jeffery. “It basically blew up as soon as we put it out there.”

Founded under a freeway in San Francisco 36 years ago, Mother Jones has a rich history of investigative journalism.

“We’ve covered and uncovered several big political stories over the past couple of years,” said Jeffery. “We’ve never experienced this level of attention.”

The magazine was named after the famous union organizer at the turn of the century, Mary Harris, who was also known as “Mother Jones.” The publication is known as a left-leaning outlet, but Jeffery insisted that they don’t favor political parties.

“First and foremost we are journalists, and I have to say, if we had something this explosive about president Obama…(we would have) no problem running that. We would have chased that story just as hard,” she said.

The publication has seen a sharp rise in donations since the Romney video surfaced.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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