The St. Petersburg Times posted a video of Sink denying that she was even able to read the message shown to her by the makeup technician. Caption time!
It turns out I can embed the video from the Times:
It seems as though the Times has changed the text identifying this story, or at least has used the video with two different stories. The one I used this time adds an interesting twist:
"Alex Sink says she didn't mean to break debate rules."Sink doesn't say that.
AS: I just have a couple of minutes 'cause I am about to catch a plane, guys.
Reporter: Could you just tell us what you talked about with that aide when she passed you the message?
AS: Oh, last night at the debate?
AS: Well, I looked around, she put this phone in my face and said I don't know who this is from, and I turned around and looked and I said, I mean I couldn't tell, really, what it was.
Reporter: You didn't discuss it ahead of time?
AS: Oh, absolutely not. In fact, when I went back, afterwards, I said find out where that text message came from, and it act act actually came from a member of my campaign staff, clearly against the rules, and, uh, that person's had to leave my campaign. Brian May.
Reporter: Can you see, there's a bit of an irony which Rick Scott had mentioned yesterday. You've staked your campaign on saying that he's cheated and been deceptive, but your campaign cheated.
AS: When I learned what had happened and got to the bottom of it, I took accountability and I held the person who was responsible for the cheating accountable and he's no longer with my campaign. That was the right action to take.
1) If I'm a makeup assistant (yes, that's a stretch) and I get a phone message from somebody I don't know, I probably don't take my phone to the debate participant I'm supposed to be working on during a short commercial break to get her to help me figure out the author of the message. It is overpoweringly likely that the assistant knew at least that it was a message for Sink and that she presented the situation that way to Sink. Sink ought to have known that receiving messages was forbidden, so once she starts looking at the phone to interpret the message she is without excuse. Sink cheated.
2) Sink was probably able to tell what it was. She took her time looking at it. If I'm on a break during a debate I probably don't spend much time looking at something I don't understand from somebody I don't know even if it's not against the rules. Wrong time, wrong place.
3) Meh. The reporter's follow up question could have been better. Yeah, he gets a break because it's the spur of the moment. How about this one: "You knew you weren't supposed to receive messages during the debate, right? Why did you look at it at all?"
4) Brian May was made Alex Sink's scapegoat. May couldn't cheat without Sink's help. It's unlikely the debate rules forbade attempts to send messages to the candidates. Rather, the candidates were probably bound not to receive debate advice during the debate. Sink was right to fire May because he his actions contributed to a disastrous performance for her campaign, not for cheating in the debate. She was the cheater.
The fourth point strikes me as Alex Sink's Al Gore moment, at least with me.
Let me explain.
I used to like Al Gore. He ran for president in 1980, and he was the most conservative and sane-sounding of the Democratic candidates. He dropped considerably in my estimation during the Clinton years, but though he shifted left I still felt he was probably an OK guy. The Al Gore moment that soured me came during one of his debates with George W. Bush.
What. A. Maroon.
That's the Al Gore moment.