Mercury Confidential: The head of Glenn’s investigative documentary crew opens up to about the search for the truth

by Meg Storm

Don’t miss the latest documentary, For The Record, debuting this Wednesday at 8pm ET only on TheBlaze TV!

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Mercury Radio Arts? Just how do all of Glenn’s crazy ideas get done? Does anyone ever get a chance to sleep? Well, over the next few months we are going to take you inside MRA, giving you the inside scoop on everything from publishing to special events, 1791 to Markdown to TheBlaze. We will be interviewing members of our New York, Columbus, and Dallas staff, bringing you all the info, so you can know what it’s really like to work for Glenn. Part 1 (Kevin Balfe – Publishing)Part 2 (Liz Julis – GBTV/Special Events)Part 3 (Joel Cheatwood: CCO & President of TheBlaze)Part 4 (Eric Pearce: VP, TV Operation of TheBlaze)Part 5 (Michelle Vanderhoff Network Operations Manager at TheBlaze)

Joe Weasel, Senior Producer, TheBlaze Documentary Films

If you have ever watched one of the original mini-series or documentary films produced by TheBlaze, you know that no topic, no ideology, no individual is off limits. From revealing the Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to the United States government in The Project to the Rumors of War trilogy, these programs prove that investigative and groundbreaking reporting is not entirely lost in America today. TheBlaze is continuing to work towards the restoration of journalism with its new news magazines style series, For The Record, premiering this Wednesday at 8PM ET, only on TheBlaze TV.

As you can probably imagine, creating such programming is no easy task, and Joe Weasel, Senior Producer, TheBlaze Documentary Films, is at the helm of the operation, working with a small but mighty team of seven editors and producers in TheBlaze’s Columbus, Ohio office to make it all happen.

“I do love my job. I just don’t like the hours sometimes,” Joe said with a laugh. “We don’t work 24 hours a day all the time, but when you are on deadline, you are here all night.”

A tried and true journalist, Joe was a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, in addition to working as a local sports and features reporter in the Columbus area. All the while, he hosted a morning radio program and dabbled as a journalism professor at Ohio State University. In fact, it was during his time at Ohio State that he met one of his future colleagues.

“I was a journalism professor at Ohio State. I did that part time when I was a reporter. It was journalism 101 – writing and stuff,” he said. “And Tom Orr, who is now my researcher, was in the very first class I taught. He is a former student of mine.”

Joe joined Mercury Radio Arts three years ago, before TheBlaze even existed. He was brought on to create “mini documentaries,” or 12 minute segments that would air on Glenn’s Insider Extreme online streaming service. “We were testing the mini docs to see how they would work online,” Joe said. “We spent a year doing that, and then Restoring Honor was our first full documentary film.”

While a lot has changed at Mercury/TheBlaze since Joe and his team first started, some things have stayed the same. “I collaborate on ideas with Joel Cheatwood [President/Chief Content Officer, TheBlaze]. My job is to find areas that need a lot more attention – investigative, historical, educational, or whatever it is,” Joe explained. “And the key is to try to put that in a format that your average viewer can watch, consume, be entertained. It does stick to what Glenn has tried to do, which is enlighten, inform, and entertain. That hasn’t changed. That has been that way since I started here.”

While the concept may sound simple – create quality programming that entertains and enlightens –in actuality, the mission is easier said than done. “It can be a challenge sometimes because you are balancing editorially,” Joe said. “And you are really looking to make sure you have sourced everything, sometimes that stuff is really boring but you can’t deviate from that. We don’t take chances. Some of our subject matter certainly hits people or people aren’t happy with it.”

When dealing with topics that are as complex as investigating the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration or debunking the progressive agenda, establishing credibility and finding reliable sources is paramount. “It is a challenge with a small team,” Joe admitted. “We use a lot of sources we know. We talk to a lot of people quickly. That is the one thing TheBlaze has done – the resources have expanded with knowledgeable people that are willing to work with us. That has changed dramatically over the years as we have become more of a legitimate news source.”

“It also entails calling up a lot of people you know will never want to talk to you, or people that aren’t necessarily fans,” he continued. “But we are verifying and asking a lot of questions. That’s old fashioned journalism.”

While his team has gotten used to creating the “big, broader approach” documentaries, For The Record provided a new challenge for Joe and his crew. “I heard about For The Record for the first time in November or December,” Joe said laughing. “Nothing is ever enough time around here.”

Coming up with topics to cover on the series is a collaborative process, in which, when it comes to ideas, the sky is the limit. “Joel and I talk about them,” Joe said. “I have a list of potential topics that go from human trafficking, to why cupcake businesses are so big, to Christian persecution, to the true effects on a primary care physician under Obamacare. We are trying to do things that actually really apply to individuals.”

The first installment of For The Record, Surveillance State, takes the form of a “docu-drama” though it still holds true to the news magazine theme. The episode investigates how the NSA turned America into a surveillance state in the aftermath of September 11, 2011. Just a few minutes into the show, it becomes abundantly clear that through every phone call, every email… the government is watching.

Just how many hours does it take, from start to finish, to put an episode of For The Record together? “The first episode was 1,000 hours, which I thought was a lot,” Joe said. “But once you looked at it, everything made sense because it was all new – new graphics, new approach, new everything.”

Even though spending 1,000 hours working on a one hour-long show ma y seem inconceivable, there is a very formulaic production process that is needed to ensure no stone is left unturned. From pre-production to post production to everything in between, Joe explained how his team takes an abstract concept, like ‘the government is spying on its people,’ and turns it into can’t miss television.

“There is a pre-production meeting. Pre-production is basically the collection of the idea – where you going to go for the research, who the potential cast will be,” he said. From that meeting, an outline is created that is broken down into four blocks (or sections). Each block is then broken down into the topics it will deal with. “We have a rule of four and three here,” Joe said. “If you can’t make three points within a block, you probably aren’t doing it right.”

Once the ideas are in place, it is time for everyone to get to work. First and foremost, a producer is assigned to head-up each individual episode, which helps to make sure everything stays on track. “There is a producer assigned to the show,” Joe said, “who basically oversees the editing schedule and the shooting schedule.”

In the pre-production world, two people are particularly important: the researcher and the coordinating producer. “We have an elements person who researches elements and data. He will verify things as we go. For instance, if a person says something or makes a comment, his job is to go and make sure it wasn’t taken out of context, that we are using the whole sound bite,” Joe said. “Then there is the coordinating producer, who does exactly that. As I build this show, I will need stuff – she coordinates the timing, the shoots, the travel, all of that.”

“But all the directing and writing still comes back to me,” he added. “I still write all the scripts and direct it. I hand it over to the guys who act as editors, directors, photographers, and coordinators. And then if we need graphics along the way, we go to our graphic artist, who designs and creates the look and the feel as we go.”

“That’s how it works,” he said with a laugh.

The filming process is always difficult because finding the right sources with the right motives takes time and patience. “Nobody wants to do something for nothing – and I don’t just mean money. They either want their story out, or they have a friend who needs help. Nobody just usually grants an interview. So you have to find out what their motive is,” he explained. “Once you get past that, you have to have a comfort level that it is actually legitimate and make sure you are both on the same page in terms of information gathering.”

It may seem as though the hard work is over once all of the planning and filming is out of the way, but, in reality, the real work has only just begun. “And then you are here all night. And Joel makes 30,000 changes,” he said wryly, “but he is usually right, by the way.”

When approaching these projects, Joe has come to think of the world in thirds. One third of the audience is fans of Glenn and TheBlaze and are eager to watch the program. On the other extreme, one third will probably not have any interest in tuning in. But that final, middle third is still up for grabs. “There is a middle third that you can still get to. And I think that is who we are playing to in this,” he said.

For The Record is unique in that it will fill a very large void in the media. Shows like 60 Minutes, that were once the vanguard of investigative journalism, have (to put it mildly) lost their way. “Well, I hope people get stories that interest them,” Joe said of the series. “These are stories that need more time to be delivered, things that deserve more in-depth follow up, and hopefully it applies to their lives.”

At the end of the day, however, the goal is simple: deliver the truth. “We want people to understand that this is not a right or left issue,” he concluded. “And I thank God I have the freedom to do it.”

  • snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

    Good fortune and God’s blessings in keeping safe; I imagine more than a few in the Federal government are upset at their deeds coming into the light.

  • snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

    It is a sad state of affairs in the nation when the government deems its own people to be an worse enemy than the real enemies of the nation.

    • Anonymous

      You make some very good points ,I feel sorry  for the  people of New York city ,With that Mayor Bloom-bird the people of New York cannot be individuals and be responsible for their actions and their decisions ! This mayor falsely claim he is responsible for the individual decisions for his cover since he responsible for  you he falsely claim he has the right to dictate everything you do and control you like your too stupid to think for yourself and make your own decisions and be responsible for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This obama mayor bloom – bird  trying to precedent for rest of U.S  cities to follow for obama and progressive evil agenda of absolute control of every aspect of U.S citizens lives  and turn them into slaves for obama elites progressive party !!!!!!

  • Sam Fisher

    It looks better than sixty minutes.

  • Matthew T. Mason

    Is Molotov Mitchell involved with this show? He has had a feature with this title since 2009.

  • Andrew Nelson

    You really should watch this video:

  • Anonymous

    Glenn hope your new program the  Record will look at the very near future of the technology dots coming together and obama  evil agenda !!  That congress and We the people cannot let obama with this King God complex or any president or government come close to acquiring this quest to a high level of this ( God like power ) !!!  Rand Paul did good work on the drone ,but he only touch the top  surface point of a large time of darkness for U.S citizens and the world   !!!  These drone zapping U.S citizens just a small component of the larger picture !!  The power obama and the progressive party are seeking is the ( all knowing Power of God )  !!!!  Some example of technology dots coming together that will communication links with drone or national security grid with your house wiring electrical and tel, &cable  1.) smart meters what appliance being use,last use ,how long 2.) Smart TV flat screen like Samsung to have camera turn on by a hacker  without the person knowing it or ,government can do the same to listen and see what going on in your house,no indication where lens is so you can cover it also what you watch 2.) might be same with computer,3.) land land line phones with high frequency might pick up your conversation with phone still on the hook 4.) cell phone for tracking you GPS and listening with the phone turn off 5.) never mind monitor all communications e-mail,phones 6.) Your car will reveal how many people in your car by pressure on seats,also relay to a drone or national security grid who in your car from secret micro-chip in your driver license,credit card,social security,medicare ,medical insurance card ,GPS location 7} .Drones with infra red camera track what room your in,,   outside maybe listen to your conversation with probotic listen device  ,can tell your carrying gun maybe with hard radar reflection return at same zapping you with powerful radar,maybe boost the strength  to cause cancer and no one will know the difference,( this could be one component of Gulf War symptoms our low flying jets using look down ground mapping radar zap our soldier !!  8.) one of our big mouth congressmen made a slip that U.S and obama know who attack our people in Benghazi with positive ID to make like obama doing something was revealing a possible military secret they were wearing masks maybe a powerful camera that can take eye scan at distance,or radar the can be quickly adjusted to see under mask for facial recognition or using the soft light bomb detector ask Miss E.D Hill about that program she had on  at fox !!  ., What we are doing is allowing with this (all knowing system) is setting ourselves  up for judgement for every aspect of lives ,every movement and every spoken word inside and outside, who we have assembly with or associate with , if we make too many trip burn gas going to beach ,grocery,bars etc . People say we will 30,000 drones flying over U.S for safety and criminals to me just a guise for complete control if government know everything thing you do and say can pass judgement on you if your not in completely in lockstep when to do something !!!  Just as your TV and radio can be taken over by government for alerts same with these 30,000 drones by government central command of obama with his king God complex he won’t need a large army of goons to control the population just small amount for mop up inside buildings . The military already have drones that need no operators someone who know right from wrong or constitution just give  it a program to do a certain task  and it be program to handle situations !!  This sequester a guise to undermanned our local police force with cuts of federal funding to towns and cities ,obama call police stupid and racists but they’re are a stumbling block for him they know right from wrong,have a conscious ,know the constitutions and the law and will step up and say NO !!! Our President drones will have none of these drawbacks just follow his programs or orders blindly to enforce cloak of complete darkness of his control over our citizens into zombies do as he say with no outcry or you be punish with no individual freedoms !!! I heard on Sunday night radio coasttocoastam  a caller from Dover Delaware he got from official that because  of the sequester Dover won’t have the police force to patrol at night ,that they pass law if needed a curfew no one driving or outside of their house pass 6pm ,was someone BS this caller or is he BS the radio listeners ????  This be obama perfect niche  or crisis to move in with his drones for marshal law !! If obama getting these 30,000 drones that have phase radar see in 360 degree no radar sweep,super fast and high capacity computer to track 1000 of possible suspects at once a link to national security grid,your house,car,phones etc it’s like obama placing a Nazi secret police monkey on every citizens back to past judgement on everything thing you do and say especially you not in lock step with him or don’t follow his dictates or one of his minion like mayor bloom bird what you eat and now can monitor if you exercise enough and right number of times a day ,plus enforce Shari Law make sure you pray six times a day  !!  Say no obama and progressive party quest for complete control over us by this (all knowing system) and turn the individual into a slave robot zombie drone of obama . Tell the truth like God would not let ruler have control by everyone speaking the same language Tower of Babel  ,maybe we have a giant solar flare zap all these ( all knowing ) electronic devices ,communication links ,and enforcement drones so no one man can control and dictate every aspect of our lives taking our God given   right  to be a individual and  be self thinking !!!

    • Anonymous

      Our President  obama is using this new of drones weapons ,computers,monitors devices ,communication links and with new tactics of using all these together to forcefully rule over U.S and to enslave U.S citizens to his dictates !!! To me hesomewhat like Hitler  who combine his new weapons of panzer tanks ,stuka dive bombers,rockets,,and new tactics for combine use to enslave Europe obama using these devices in combine use to enslave U.S citizens to his dictates !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Gee, Glenn,  thanks for bringing us yet another story already covered extensively by the media.  The New York Times and others reported back in 2009 that wiretaps exceeded the FISA rules placed on the NSA after the Bush controversy. Communication monitoring is a question of balance.  Knowing there are foreign operatives directing terrorists in America, it is a government responsibility to attempt to stop their plans by monitoring communications. God’s blessings aren’t keeping us safe. Intelligence, surveillance and interception is. Anyway, Glenn, you’ll probably get a few more suckers to buy a subscription.

  • Anonymous

    That was a wonderfully put together special.  The very calmness of those interviewed made me even more afraid of what is going on today in America.  No one can tell me that this is the same America as when we were kids.  God Bless all of you who worked on this project.  I look forward to another “On the Record.”  ‘
    The professionalism was incredible and the statements said simply and clearly.  Thank you again, with a special thanks to Glenn Beck.

  • DrG

    The Blaze and Glenn Beck need to answer why they sought out, interviewed, then ignored the first hand accounts from Jim and JoAnne about Libya. Apparently, this Joe Weasel, Senior Producer for TheBlaze Documentary Films, contacted and met with the couple, took their story and copies of documents, while lying to them about wanting to do a documentary.
    Jimmy and JoAnne Moriarty discuss their  first hand account of the events that unfolded in Libya:

    • Anonymous

      I agree!!!  And why did Blaze producer Joe Weasel bring a CIA agent Nikki Berrocal to their meeting?

      I heard the Moriarty’s story tonight, in the Sacramento area and I was floored.

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