‘Threats’ over satiric Clinton video stir claims right and left
By Evan Lips | November 19, 2015, 18:50 EDT
LOS ANGELES – The owner of a landmark Hollywood comedy club claims that someone representing Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign pressured him to pull down a video segment featuring comics spoofing the former First Lady and Secretary of State – or risk facing consequences.
“They threatened me,” said Jamie Masada, who founded the popular Laugh Factory in 1979, according to Judicial Watch, a conservative organization specializing in investigating government abuses of power. “I have received complaints before but never a call like this, threatening to put me out of business if I don’t cut the video.”
Masada declined to name the campaign official who contacted him. Curtis Flagg, a spokesman for the club, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The video is an ultra-brief mashup of bits titled “Hillary Clinton vs. the First Amendment.” The irreverent and sometimes raunchy segments are performed by stand-up comedians Mike Marino, Dom Irrera, Tiffany Haddish, Greg Fitzsimmons and Brian Holtzman. They poke fun at Clinton’s age, wardrobe and relationship with former President Bill Clinton, her husband.
On Thursday, the Laugh Factory announced on Twitter that it would not take down the clip.
We’ve gotten a lot of ?’s about our Hillary Clinton video & take down requests. We’re not going to take it down. https://t.co/7OTbL6kWvE
— Laugh Factory (@TheLaughFactory) November 19, 2015
Masada told Judicial Watch that a “prominent” Clinton campaign representative contacted him as soon as the video was uploaded to the Laugh Factory website. Yet he reportedly told a Slate.com columnist he could only remember the person’s first name, John.
“He said the video was disgusting and asked who put me up to this,” Masada said, according to Judicial Watch, adding that the caller also demanded to know the names and phone numbers of the comedians appearing in the clip.
Masada said he refused to provide the information and hung up.
The video, which is only two minutes and 41 seconds long, was also posted on YouTube.com and as of 5 p.m. eastern time Thursday had garnered more than 73,000 views on the popular video-sharing site.
A media representative for Clinton’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment from the NewBostonPost.
In a piece published by Slate.com titled “Here is How Your Hillary Smear Sausage Gets Made,” columnist Michelle Goldberg speculated over the incident and the motives of the parties involved.
“Even if you buy the most grotesque right-wing caricatures about Clinton’s humorlessness and authoritarianism, it’s hard to believe that the campaign would be so clumsy, especially at a time when it’s going out of its way to make the candidate seem fun,” Goldberg wrote. She referred to efforts by Clinton’s aides to make her funnier and more personable in public appearances, as documented by the New York Times.
Goldberg, who managed to speak to Masada, wrote that the Laugh Factory owner did not discount the possibility that the caller claiming to be from the Clinton campaign was a prankster or a Clinton foe looking to gin up trouble. She pointed out that Masada “has no discernable right-wing agenda” and has been lauded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union in the past.
The columnist also said that Clinton’s campaign said the call did not come from them, although Judicial Watch “tells me they stand by their story.”
In the universe of spin, as Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations might say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.