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Watching the sinking of Maine politics through a Periscope

Michael Shepherd | BDN

Michael Shepherd | BDN

Last week I watched Representative Bruce Poliquin sprint from the media, refusing to answer questions about his support for Donald Trump as Maine Public’s Mal Leary shouted “Congressman, you can’t hide!”

I watched Governor Paul LePage’s impromptu press conference where he called President Obama a dictator and showed off his Russian nesting dolls with the visages of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

The next day, I watched the governor say my colleague Ben Chin and I should be thrown in prison for advocating for a minimum wage increase, and I watched as the Chamber of Commerce audience politely applauded his remarks.

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I was able to watch all of these events live, unfiltered and in their full context because so many of Maine’s political reporters are now using live-streaming video apps like Facebook’s Live Video and Twitter’s Periscope as part of their daily newsgathering.

Journalists like Steve Mistler at Maine Public, Scott Thistle at the Portland Press Herald and Michael Shepherd here at the BDN have led the charge and now it’s rare that a political event in Maine goes unbroadcast on social media. (You should follow all of them and watch for streams.)

I’ve been a big fan of this technology for a while now because it provides an opportunity for those of us who weren’t there to understand the totality of an interview or an event in a way that a newspaper article or nightly news clip will never quite be able to.

For one example, I was confident in noting in a recent blog post that House Republican Leader Ken Fredette had never actually repudiated Governor LePage’s  racist comments because I was able to go back and watch every one of the several media availabilities he held on the issue from beginning to end.

I especially enjoy being able to download clips of these events and watch or listen to them later at double speed (something I bet some of the reporters in these rooms wish they had the ability to do).

As politics in our state continues to slide down a greasy gutter, we can at least take some solace in the fact that we can watch and understand that descent in a way we never could before.

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