Jason Mattera Fails Again


Jason Mattera doesn't really need any more exposure than he has already received. And now, in the wake of the Breitbart empire's implosion, I'm sure that he smells blood in the water and wants to start marketing himself as the new "go-to guy" for conservatives who play "gotcha" with liberals.

What undercuts Mattera here is that he uses a lie to get Chris Rock to pay attention to him when he seeks him out at the Sundance Film Festival. The very first thing Chris Rocks says is a welcoming, friendly greeting to Mattera when Mattera lies about wanting to get a picture with him. Rock goes along with it until he smells what Mattera is about. Celebrities get used like this all the time. People with their own agenda use them to get photos or video of them, and they try to get them to "market" something or unwittingly endorse something. That's why Rock is friendly, but cautious when Mattera goes up to him and lies to him and physically touches him in order to turn him around.

Mattera is well known for this lie:
Mattera then explained to Cavuto how he managed to get so close to the Vice President, by pretending to be a fan who wanted to pose for a picture with Biden. That’s part of Mattera’s consistent MO, to pretend he’s a fan of his subject. Cavuto then asked Mattera what the VP’s staff said to him after the encounter.
Anyway, Mattera and his lie are the reason why Chris Rock is not quite on his guard when the question is asked of him. As soon as Mattera brings up the Tea Party, Rock understands what is happening. This happens in mere seconds. Rock is savvy enough to know when something is up and, when he feels mislead and trapped by Mattera, he does what some people would do in that situation and he destroys the camera.

Is that the right thing to do? No, it isn't. It's not okay to destroy someone's camera. But it's also not okay to trick someone into standing there for a gotcha moment either. It's not okay to turn someone around to face a camera and hit them with a bomb, which is what happens here. Mattera is trying to make hay out of what Rock did after the trick was played on him; what Mattera did, when he instigated this incident, is the reason why Rock got angry. Playing gotcha means you've got to play fast and loose with the ethics. And, it usually means that you're going to have to jettison journalistic methods. So, no. Rock should not have destroyed the camera. But Mattera is no journalist and he's not there to get anything other than a self-serving piece of video for his crappy website so that he can promote his crappy book.

Anyway, this is what the desperation of the post-Breitbart world looks like. Mattera had no idea that, when this incident happened in January, he would be airing it in a post-Breitbart world where conservative troublemakers and Tea Party dead-enders are looking for a new hero. Into the breach he steps, thinking he's "got" someone.

Well, here's where the reasoning behind the camera destruction lies. Rock knows that, when cornered, he's not going to come off well because he hasn't prepared. So his response was, give them nothing. Destroy their camera. Disrupt their intrusion. Meet the abrogation of journalistic ethics with a smashed piece of equipment, head on.

I don't condone this sort of thing but I suspect that it is going to be more commonplace when noted failures like Mattera go out and try to get their own moments.