Meet Scott Prouty. On any given day you might find him tending bar, saving women from crocodile-infested waters or recording videos that change the course of American history. No big deal. As he made splendidly evident on his hotly anticipated debut television appearance on Wednesday night, Prouty didn't release the 47 Percent video for the fame or the glory or the politics of it all. He certainly didn't release it out of loyalty to the Democrats or Republicans, as he's a member of neither party. Prouty released it based on principle.
Eight o'clock on Wednesday night marked the event horizon for Prouty going completely public. Wearing a blue tie and pinstripe suit the Boston native appeared on The Ed Show to reveal his face for the first time and answer questions about his now famous — or infamous, depending on your leanings — video. When the program started, David Corn, the Mother Jones reporter who turned the "47 percent" video into a viral sensation and a turning point in the presidential campaigns, sang Prouty's praises and said he was glad the world could finally "experience his thoughtfulness, sincerity and passion." Corn also tweeted two quotes from the interview that stand out. "I wanted Mitt Romney's words … to be the absolute center of attention," Prouty told MSNBC host Ed Schulz. He quickly added, "I am registered independent."
The whole story behind the "47 Percent" video and Prouty's multiple attempts to get the mainstream media's attention is revelatory in a number of ways. It's also not entirely new. Last September, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith offered up a terrific timeline of how the person behind the camera at that $50,000-a-plate campaign dinner tried to make the video go viral well before Mother Jones dropped its bombshell. More details emerged with Prouty's Ed Show appearance, though — like the one about the one time Prouty saved a woman's life by pulling her out of a sinking car after she'd skidded off the road into water. There's also the inevitably inspirational tale of his personal battle over releasing the tape and well concerted effort to stay out of the spotlight so that the story could speak for itself.
After the Ed Show appearance began, Corn published a terrific account of his dealings with Prouty. This passage hits home:
On a daily basis, I thought about what it was like to hold such a secret. No doubt, Prouty had been in conversations about the 47 percent video. How strange that must have been. How great the temptation to say, "That was me." … After all, I was receiving plenty of attention, and he deserved the same — if he wanted it.
Well, Prouty's got it now. Let's hope he stays humble.