Scott Prouty is the man behind the now infamous “47 percent” video that the media hyped to bring down Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. It’s unbearably stale news at this point, but MSNBC’s Ed Schultz found a fresh hook for resurrecting it recently on his soon-to-be-defunct weeknight program. Prouty insisted that Romney’s invitation to speak at CPAC prompted him to come out of hiding and in the Schultz interview, he insisted he was not really that political a guy when he tended bar at a Romney fundraiser last year, when he surreptitiously recorded the video.
But Schultz, who owns a Canadian fishing lodge, apparently let Prouty on air to tell a fish tale. Today's Washington Post highlighted information in Prouty's background that seems to offer another explanation for why Prouty never came out in the open during the campaign, including evidence from social media postings that he is a committed liberal Democrat.
Among other things, The Post's Jerry Markon and Krissah Thompson reported how “court records show that Internal Revenue Service in 2006 secured a more that $15,000 federal tax lien against Prouty for unpaid taxes from 2000 and 2002. It was unclear whether Prouty has repaid the money.”
Furthermore, when he was employed as a bartender by the Gulfstream Park Racing Association, which – as the post notes – runs horse-racing casinos – Prouty filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging that female employees were promoted over him since they had “sexual relations with management.” The case was dismissed, and Prouty was let go.
Additionally, while NBC has touted Prouty as an “independent” with an “open mind," when Ed Schultz interviewed him, he was joined by Charles Kernaghan, an international labor rights activists and director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, “who has become a friend,” according to the Post.
Kernaghan released a report on September 27, 2012 called “Betting Against American Workers,” which used Prouty’s video to smear Romney by linking him to China’s labor laws. Prouty then contacted Kernaghan, and the two became friends.
Additionally, Markon and Thompson note that Prouty was actually registered as a Democrat in Florida and that he has social media messages reflecting strong liberal leanings:
Yet voter-registration records show that Prouty registered as a Democrat in 2002, and election officials said he has maintained that party affiliation. His former Twitter account is full of populist and political messages, including several criticizing Romney or former GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and another blasting National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre as “an evil man.” Prouty attended Obama’s second inauguration and also told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz he was “proud to call him my president.”
In light of all this, did Big Eddie's producers and fact-checkers think to dig a bit deeper into the story, or was Prouty's version of things too good to check? One might be tempted to say Schultz and company are not ready for prime time. Given the network's latest move to exile Schultz to a weekend slot, maybe even the network would agree.