Lamar White, blogger and founder of the The Bayou Brief, a nonprofit news site, is the man responsible for releasing two videos of Mississippi senator Cindy Hyde-Smith making controversial statements that some say may cost her Senate seat. In an interview with Adam Ganucheau on The Jungle podcast, White explains his handling of those videos and his stance on protecting the source.
1st Hyde-Smith Video
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.
Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy. pic.twitter.com/0a9jOEjokr
— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018
In the first video, Hyde-Smith was standing with cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson and told the crowd, “if he invited me to a public hanging I’d be on the front row.”
White said he received the video early in the afternoon on Saturday, Nov. 10. He knew from the beginning that he was going to put it on Twitter instead of the Bayou Brief because he’d had previous success with viral tweets. But he chose not to release it right away because of football.
“College football, in the South, on a Saturday. Just not a good day to do something like that.”
“I was worried that it was going to get lost in the mix because I knew there were two big games going on in Mississippi… I wanted to make sure it reached the maximum number of voters in Mississippi as it could.” So, he made the “strategic decision” to release the video on Sunday.
At the time of the podcast interview on November 16, White said it that first Hyde-Smith video had been viewed at least 5 million times online. Plus, it had been played on tv outlets and cable news.
2nd Hyde-Smith Video
Cindy Hyde-Smith on voter suppression: “And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” Nov 2nd in Columbus, MS. pic.twitter.com/OxNY77XCft
— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 15, 2018
In the second video, Hyde-Smith reportedly shows support for voter suppression saying, “And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
That video came the following Thursday afternoon and White said he released it immediately. Within 19 hours, it was at about 2 million views. So it’s outpacing the first Hyde-Smith video, he told Ganucheau.
And he believes the viral nature of these videos is largely due to the fact that African-Americans picked up on the story first.
Working for Espy?
Those videos are credited with propelling the runoff between Hyde-Smith and her Democratic opponent Mike Espy into the national spotlight. An influx of money is reportedly flowing into the race, and some say these revelations have given Espy a fighting chance to be the first black senator of Mississippi since shortly after the Civil War.
Conservatives and Hyde-Smith supporters have accused White of being a political operative for Espy.
White, who is based in Louisiana, describes himself as an “outspoken progressive and he said “I’m sure the people who provided me the videos want him to win” but he denies having any involvement in Mississippi politics or connections in that scene.
He said he never met Espy and doesn’t know anyone in his campaign. He doesn’t have any involvement with any political action committees or organization on the ground in MS, and he’s hasn’t received any compensation from anyone for posting the Hyde-Smith videos. “I’m not working for anyone other than the Bayou Brief,” he said.
Who’s the Source?
White isn’t giving up his source.
Both videos are racially loaded, he explains. “Racism is a volatile issue in the American deep South, and really across the country, but particularly in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. I have to be very careful about revealing anything because I don’t want to put anyone’s life in any danger at all,” he said.
What doesn’t know who actually captured the videos and he thinks that’s a good thing. But he believes they came from a tracker, which is an individual who follows a campaign around.
Trackers are usually young people, he told Ganucheau. And that calls for being all the more “mindful and conscious” because I really don’t want to put a young person in the middle of this, he added.
So, “I’m willing to take all of the heat and answer all of the questions.”
More Hyde-Smith Videos?
Asked about the possibility of more videos being leaked, White said “I think this woman has a talent for saying crazy absurd things. I wouldn’t be surprised[if there were more out there]. But I’m not saying I know anything. I honestly do not know.”
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