Jan 25 2008

Romney Ear Piece Picked Up On MSNBC Tie-Mic? – Updates!

Published by at 12:48 pm under All General Discussions

Update: More here, including a second whisper which Mitt responds to and therefore must hear. – end update

Here’s something we heard last night and wondered about – did Romney have a small speaker tucked underneath his collar so he could be coached through the debate? My guess is yes he did:

The fact is a regular ear piece would be obvious, so the only other option is a small speaker aimed so as to not be picked up by the tie-mic. Here’s the deal, with the breaks and such if Romney moved too much or had a technical issue the mic could have been put back in such a way it was picked up by the tie-mic. Worse yet – everyone has one and MSNBC was supposed top mute the tie-mic while the question was being given so as to not expose the little electronic assistant. This will hurt Romney – no two ways about it.

Shocking Update: NBC all but admits to Raw Story that it was their problem with his mic – which tells me they were supposed to mute his tie-mic and forgot to.

The mysterious whisper that could be heard just before an answer from Mitt Romney at Thursday’s Republican debate was the result of a microphone malfunction, an MSNBC spokesman tells RAW STORY.

“We had some audio issues and Gov. Romney’s mike wasn’t working momentarily. Simple as that,” MSNBC VP for Communications Jeremy Gaines said in a one-line e-mail response to questions about overheard whisper.

Clearly there is a masquerade being staged with a compliant and supporting media. am I shocked? I have been saying for months these things are staged forgeries. It is not news it is a off-broadway production.

Another Version: OK, someone at Hot Air has a theory it was Brian Williams whispering – I doubt it but it is vaguely plausible. Why would Williams whisper ‘taxes’ to Russert in the middle of his question? We know they coordinate questions before hand. No, I still think, based on the mea-culpa from MSNBC pointing to Romney’s mic (not Williams’), the incident exposed a dirty little secret about debates. Now we know why candidates misspeak so often, the person in their ears makes the mistake and it comes out the puppet’s, er… candidate’s mouth before they can process it and correct it.

A gratuitous link to the left to see their responses.

My Two Cents: OK folks, let’s think about this for a second and understand something about micro-phones and rigging something for broadcast. Here’s the conundrum. Mitt heard the comment ‘raised taxes’ – and responded. If it was not in an earpiece then he had to hear it over the speakers in the auditorium – did anyone else there hear this? It is important to note there are sounds in the room, sounds from microphones in the room, and sounds from microphones transmitted over the airwaves for broadcast.

The whisper came out loud and clear on the broadcast – so it was through a microphone. And all mics are controlled from a control room to tamp out any spurious sounds. All mics not meant to be used at the moment are set to ‘mute’ in the control room. Clearly someone keyed on a mic that was not supposed to be keyed on. And that is pretty consistent with the MSNBC claim it was a problem with Mitt’s mic. But why Mitt and not Williams?

Well Mitt could have had what is called a “monitor speaker” at his podium so he can hear what others say across the stage (musician use these so they can here all the instruments in a final mix on stage). These are common and may need to be turned on and off as well. So that is another possible source for the whisper.

If no one in the room heard the whisper it will be even stranger. That means it someone had a mic on only Mitt and the broadcast audience could hear. I would love to know if anyone else heard it. In the end the only way for the whisper to get out on the broadcast is for someone in the control room to flick on mic for broadcast. So I would start there for finding out what happened. Of course does this change anything in the debate? Nope – just some speculative fun.

Who Dunnit Update: OK, this is too much fun. It seems MSNBC cannot figure out who the mystery whisper is. They are looking at tapes to see who might have accidentally broadcast the hint.

“We thought it might have simply been our control room cueing a question, which then didn’t seem to warrant a post, since that would be very inside baseball. So, I took it down,” NBC’s Domenico Montanaro wrote at First Read.

“As far as figuring out the mystery of who or where it came from, that is being worked on, and we hope to have an answer soon,” Montanaro continued. “It puzzled us here too, and we’re looking through tape of other candidates to see if it was one of them. We’ll let you know.”

It clearly was keyed into the broadcast by the control room. Did people on stage or in the room hear it? If not it was not just “an open mic” because it was not tied into the auditorium. That would make it one of those ‘backstage’ mics with backstage chatter on it, something ‘behind the curtain’ if you will. So why won’t Romney comment? Sounds like is silence on how much he has funded his campaign – something he doesn’t want out right now. BTW – I am not the only one who is slightly suspicious.

New Theory Update: Mystery solved? Apparently the MSNBC story is the whisper was from someone in the audience, who just happened to have a microphone that was capable of being broadcast? And no other sound was picked up by the mic? And Romney supposedly did not hear it because no one in the audience or on stage heard it? Hmmmm.

Domenico Montanaro, an NBC News political researcher, wrote on the network’s political blog, First Read: “After reviewing the tapes, NBC determined that an open mic[rophone] picked up a whisper from the audience.

“It is unclear who it is that says it, but it was not said by any of the candidates, was not heard in the hall and, more importantly, not heard by the candidates.”

I said it would be important if the whisper was heard in the hall or on stage becaue then it would be from someone on stage. But clearly it was NOT Brian Williams. Seems fishy to me. How is it this microphone able to just pick up one person??? It seems to me Romney heard it because he does respond to it physically.

Here’s the deal: if the media was in cahoots with candidates and supplying them hidden ear pieces so they could have coaches backstage they would do their best to hide it. But MSNBC slipped up – they admitted already it was Mitt’s microphone that was not set right. That was their first excuse. So how did Mitt;s mic pick up one audience person’s whisper?

Do I care? Nope – not one bit. But I can tell you that there are only so many microphones that are linked to the broadcast loop and they are controlled by the control room. And right now the most recent excuse seems pretty damn lame. Why was this open mic not ‘accidentally’ on for any more discussions? Why just the one whispered moment? You want to know why? Because the control room knew in an instant what happened and switched it off before anything else was picked up. It has taken them this long to try and concoct a cover story. But whatever mic was accidentally left open was shut off in less than 5 seconds – and that means someone knows exactly which mic it was.

19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Romney Ear Piece Picked Up On MSNBC Tie-Mic? – Updates!”

  1. MerlinOS2 says:

    On the streaming version online last night the first question from the local guy Tesch or whatever his name was, his whole question was not via his mike feed but picked up off someone else’s mike as background prior to the first commercial break.

  2. Klimt says:

    I think it was Brian Williams whispering…. not secret microphones… Romney directly answered the question; he is a big boy.

  3. AJStrata says:


    I doubt it – why would Williams coach Russert? They had the questions prepared and reviewed well before the big show. And why would MSNBC say it was a problem with Mitts mic?

    LOL! It would be easy to show with another camera angle on Williams.

  4. Sara says:

    It was Williams whispering to Russert because Russert blew the question. Romney doesn’t need coaching, he knows his stuff and has almost total recall.

  5. AJStrata says:

    OK, but it doesn’t ‘sound’ like Williams.

  6. Cepan says:

    Oh please!

    This blog is usually sane, but this Mitt Earpiece conspiracy crap is as insane as the left wing nutcase blogs.

    It was Brian Williams spurring Russert with a correction to the question. It is just a timing thing that Romney answered right away.

    You don’t think they prepped for this???

    EVERYONE who follows Social Security KNOWS that Reagan raised taxes to save it in the 1980’s. Common Knowledge….NOT some evil plot by the Mormon.

    Get a clue please. Let the loons on the left do this, not us.

  7. AJStrata says:

    Hey, all you folks thinking it was Brian Williams show a camera angle with Brian whispering to Russert! If he did it will be there and easy to show.

    Personally it doesn’t sound like Brian and Russert was clearly laying a trap question, and there was no need for Brian to whisper diddley-squat.

    It will be easy to prove if it was Williams. MSNBC is the one claiming it was Romney’s mic, not Williams.

  8. The Macker says:

    I suspect that the only “masquerade” was the collaborative effort among the media types. For that to get out would expose their stupidity and need for prompting. And it is the most likely stray audio.

  9. jb_ says:

    AJ, you’ve jumped the shark, buddy. I’ve been reading your blog for the excellent Iraq posts but it seems clear to me you’ve got Andrew Sullivan disease of believing every vicious conspiracy theory about people who disagree with you on your pet issue.

    Yes, Romney disagrees with you on illegal immigration. But to insinuate kooky things like this shatters all credibility you may have once possessed.

  10. AJStrata says:


    Lighten up – unless you are a Mary Poppins conservative, then I suggest you give up. If McCain’s current momentum does one thing it is destroying the myth of the amnesty hypochondriacs.

    It is because I am not a one issue thinker that I can actually still resist McCain even though he is the one to show once and for all the hypochondriacs are a small, irrelevant minority.

    So how is it I am not a McCainiac if all I care about is passin Shamnesty?


  11. jb_ says:


    Fair enough. You haven’t endorsed McCain. Yet based on what you do post here I would say you are clearly not enthusiastic about broadcasting HIS missteps from last night (like his lie, or charitably amnesia moment on economic knowledge.)

    Embracing conspiracy theories where there’s an innocent explanation is a sign that it is you who is troubled by the possibility that Mitt’s success might shatter your Brooksian stance.

    I think all evidence points to illegal immigration becoming not only a Republican issue but spilling over into such perennial Dem constituencies as African-Americans. You think it’s a non-issue.

    Will know which one of us is right soon enough.

  12. MerlinOS2 says:

    Well the latest update over at JOM has MSNBC saying it was a member of the audience picked up on an open mike (Whose???) and was not heard by the candidate or the audience.

  13. Whippet1 says:

    Even though I’m not as over the top as Michelle Malkin about the immigration issue and not as cavalier about it as you seem to be, I am curious what your feelings are on the news that Dr. Juan Hernandez has joined the McCain camp?


  14. Whippet1 says:

    I also believe you have gone way over the top on this mic issue. If it turns out to be coaching for Romney on a hidden mic, then shame on him and he will suffer the consequences, but you certainly don’t expect MSNBC to clarify the situation right before the Florida primary do you?

    All they had to do was insinuate the “possibility” something strange happened, knowing the left would run with it and they achieved their goal. Their media darling is McCain and from what I’ve been reading…he could use a little bump in Florida to put him over the top.

    A rumor becomes the truth without a shred of evidence. They could clear it all up now and it wouldn’t matter. If untrue, the damage to Romney is already done.

  15. kathie says:

    Suppose they all have prompters in the back room, and Mitt’s just screwed up. I have seen McCain have what I thought was a senior moment and maybe he was just waiting for someone to tell him what to say. How could one person have a prompter and the others don’t know. And why would MSNBC cover for anyone unless they were in on the deal. COULD SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN. THANKS.

  16. WWS says:

    In response to some of the previous comments, I don’t think you’ve gone over the top at all. The video is what it is – it doesn’t take any technical expertise to hear that someone whispers the best answer and see that Romney immediately picks up on it without flinching (as if he expected the help) and uses it. As far as that goes, so what? Entertainers and magicians have been using hidden prompters for decades, not surprising that pols would too.

    Where the story gets fascinating is in watching all the twisting tales that MSNBC is telling to try and convince us that we didn’t see what we saw. “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes???” THAT reaction is what screams that whatever was going on, MSNBC was in on it all the way – and also that they’re so embarrassed to admit it that they’ll invent any number of ridiculous stories to avoid telling the truth. And that, I believe, is real news.

  17. Whippet1 says:

    Wow…Your eyes and ears heard and saw something mine didn’t. I heard a whisper of words and heard Romney answer. He either did, or did not receive that answer from someone. You are making a lot of assumptions based on what your eyes saw.

    MSNBC’s response was that an audience member’s voice was picked up by an open mic. I yell at my t.v. when I watch the news so why is it not a possibility that an audience member was whispering what he would have thought was the correct response not thinking it would be heard by anyone? The only one’s who know the truth are the MSNBC staff working that debate and since honesty and truth are in short supply at MSNBC (as well as most other outlets) they will spin whatever fits their agenda.

    I agree that they’re probably embarrassed and don’t want to admit a mistake, but you appear to suggest they’re covering for Romney. Since when did they become Romney’s protector?

  18. The Macker says:

    “without flinching”- indeed. In fact, so fast that he didn’t have time to digest any prompting.

    A more believable explanation is whispering by a media individual or someone near a media mike.

  19. AJStrata says:


    BS. If there is someone there all the time prompting he can do it quite smoothly – you have never worked where there is someone in your ear talking like there is on TV. They do it all the time.

    Besides the fact no other word was heard on an accidentally open mic in the audience (yeah right) how is it the pause between Russert’s question and Romney’s response fits perfectly for the whispered hint to get through? Why didn’t this asynchronous action overlap with Russert’s question or Romney’s answer?