The "Dean Scream" -- The Version of Reality You Didn't See.. or Hear on TV

By Diane Sawyer

Original was from:

(New York-ABC News, January 29, 2004) _ It was the scream Howard Dean says became famous after the media played it nearly 700 times in a few days. Not only that, his camp adds, what we heard on the air was not a reflection of the way it sounded in the room.

After my interview with Dean and his wife in which I played the tape again -- in fact played it to them -- I noticed that on that tape he's holding a hand-held microphone. One designed to filter out the background noise. It isolates your voice, just like it does to Charlie Gibson and me when we have big crowds in the morning. The crowds are deafening to us standing there.

But the viewer at home hears only our voice.

So, we collected some other tapes from Dean's speech including one from a documentary filmmaker, tapes that do carry the sound of the crowd, not just the microphone he held on stage. We also asked the reporters who were there to help us replicate what they experienced in the room.

Reena Singh, ABC News Dean campaign reporter: "What the cameras didn't capture was the crowd."

Garance Franke-Ruta, Senior Editor, American Prospect: "As he spoke, the audience got louder and louder and I found it somewhat difficult to hear him."

Dean's boisterous countdown of the upcoming primaries as we all heard it on TV was isolated, when in fact he was shouting over the roaring crowd.

And what about the scream as we all heard it? In the room, the so-called scream couldn't really be heard at all. Again, he was yelling along with the crowd.

Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow, Lear Center USA: "When you're talking about visuals, context is everything. So, you've got a situation in which you have what I'd call the televised version of reality, which is not the same as the actual reality in room. You know in a situation like this, no one takes responsibility."

Comments from network executives:

    CBS News: "Individually we may feel okay about our network, but the cumulative effect for viewers with 24-hour cable coverage is -- it may have been overplayed and, in fact, a disservice to Dean and the viewers."
-- Andrew Heyward, President - CBS News

    ABC News: "It's always a danger that we'll use good video too much."
-- David Westin, President - ABC News

    CNN: "We've all been wrestling with this. If we had it to do over again, we'd probably pull ourselves back."
-- Princell Hair, General Manager - CNN

    Fox News: "It got overplayed a bit, and the public clearly thought that, too, and kept him alive for another round."
-- Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO - Fox News

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