Jason Mattera, editor at large at Human Events, is famous for rough-and-tumble journalism. Last year he created a sensation when he pulled something of a fast one on Vice President Biden. He distracted the veep by pretending he wanted to pose for a picture with him. Once Biden was in close, he started firing tough questions at him.
Mattera has been back on the video beat of late, or so it would appear. Here is a page on TheBlaze.com that addresses a piece that Mattera had done for Breitbart.com, in which he’d cornered Bono at an event and grilled the star about his band’s approach to paying taxes. The U2 icon was heavily criticized last year for his record on this front.
Breitbart.com appears to be bailing on the story, per an editor’s note: ”Last night, we removed an article about Bono at the request of the videographer who had provided the links to the videos upon which the article had been based.” An editor’s note on TheBlaze.com offers more detail on the whole affair:
Editor’s note: The original Breitbart.com story has been removed and the Jason Mattera videos have now been moved to “private” on YouTube. There is widespread discussion on Twitter that the person Mattera interviewed in the videos may have been a Bono impersonator.
Enjoy some of that Twitter traffic:
So was Mattera duped?
Yes, he says: “I got punked. I thought I got Bono. I didn’t. I got his impersonator apparently. Hats off to him. He got me — and how!” writes Mattera in an e-mail that speaks to his sense of accountability. “After scores of interviews with big-time politicians and celebrities, I finally got had. It was bound to happen sooner or later. On the bright side, if I’m gonna get had as good as I did, it might as well be in pursuit of one of the greatest rockers ever. While we’re on the subject of me getting snookered, I’m now left to ponder: was that really Vice President Joe Biden I talked to?”
To whom should the hats go off? That would be the guy who’s got to be Earth’s greatest Bono doppelganger. He can be found on the Internet at Bonodouble.com. His name is Pavel Sfera. And he confirms a confrontational encounter with a guy who was really interested in the tax positions of Bono.
The scene was a Feb. 8 event honoring music producer Jimmy Iovine in West Los Angeles. Bono was billed as one of the event’s co-chairs.
Pavel “Bonodouble” Sfera showed up in his Bono-impersonation garb. ”I went there as a spoof,” says Sfera. He was just kicking around on the sidewalk outside of the event, he says, when a guy approached him. It was clear from the start, says Sfera, that the guy thought he was the real Bono.
The guy, says Bonodouble, started his spiel by talking about One, the Bono-affiliated worldwide charity organization. “I’m a big fan of the One campaign”---that was how Sfera remembers the guy presenting himself.
Then came the fusillade. “He started asking questions about why I had taken money out of Ireland and moved it to Holland for a lower tax base,” recalls Sfera. “I didn’t take my money out of anywhere.”
As the guy kept asking pointed questions about U2’s finances, Sfera gave the only answers he knew to give: “I didn’t do anything. No, I have no control of the band,” he recalls.
This “guy,” Sfera says, is Mattera: “The photos I’ve seen of him on Wikipedia and other sites online as I Googled him was the same guy that did the interview.”
A transcript of some of the exchange:
Mattera: By dodging taxes on royalties are you raiding the poverty programs you purport to champion?
Mattera: No? Don’t you want governments to be generous with other people’s money and not yours?
Bono: I don’t have control over that…
Mattera: How do you not have control over that? It’s your company. Are you not in charge of your own company?
Bono: It’s not my company.
Mattera: You have no say in what U2 does?
Bono: Not particularly.
Mattera: You don’t? You don’t have a say in what U2 does?
One of the reasons that Mattera got so little from his interview is that Sfera doesn’t do the whole Bono routine — just the look. “I wasn’t pretending to be Bono,” says Sfera. “I don’t walk around with an accent. I don’t fake people out. . . . I have a very strong, independent life, and I’m comfortable in my own skin,” he continues, noting that he has been playing “Bonodouble” for 11 years.
Sfera says he was “waiting” for Mattera to figure out that he wasn’t really Bono. That moment didn’t come, and Sfera decided not to help his interlocutor. “I let him go,” says Sfera. “I didn’t think he was being legitimate and fair.”
He added, “I think in the end he was trying to find dirt, and I wasn’t there to give it to him. I didn’t speak as Bono for Bono with an Irish accent.” Sfera says he’s a “fan of charitable causes” and admires Bono’s work to “assist in extreme situations for humanity.”
After looking at some of Mattera’s work, Sfera noted, “He’s like those guys that did that whole ACORN thing.”