'Don't Ever Appear on The Daily Show'

Megan McCardle reminds her readers at Bloomberg View that Viacom's faux news show loves itself plenty of dishonest ransom note editing and ambush interviews:

In mid-September, some Washington Redskins fans agreed to go on "The Daily Show" to defend the team’s name. In the course of negotiating their appearance, the fans asked whether they would be confronted by American Indians on the show. The producers said no, and then surprise! They were ambushed by irate American Indian activists.

What follows is Megan's boilerplate PC defense of changing the Redskins' team name, until she notes that ransom note interviews:

[Appear] to be something of a standard practice for "The Daily Show" when interviewing its ideological opponents. It is not good journalistic practice, which is why so many millennials should take Jon Stewart at his word and not treat the show as news. However, I’m sure millennials will continue to do so, and the show’s producers will continue to supply them with dubious antics, so here’s a guide for people who do not share the show's politics but are considering going on it anyway:

  1. Don’t.
  2. If you must, bring two tape recorders, a video camera and a witness. Announce at the beginning that you are going to record this and reserve the right to release the entire recording to the public. When they tell you that they will not do the interview under those conditions, prepare to leave. There is no ethical reason that a reporter requires the ability to ask you questions without having those questions recorded. The reason they don’t want unedited audio is that you might release it and be revealed as a normal decent person, rather than a horrible fool.
  3. They may attempt to get you to stay by explaining that recording will interfere with their equipment. This is the point where you whip the video camera out of your bag and helpfully offer to videotape the interview instead. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be alone in a room with the producers and no recording device.

Of course, this has been known about the Daily Show for several years now, and about the MSM in general. When ABC's Charlie Gibson turned his September 2008 interview with Sarah Palin into a melange of jump cuts to disparage her and help advance his (and Megan's) preferred candidate, Glenn Reynolds advised anyone being interviewed to "Bring Your Own Camera" in a New York Post column:

So, when you sit down for an interview (unless it’s live), you’re putting yourself, like Homer, at the mercy of the editors. Usually they’re honest, but not always.

But there’s a remedy now, with technology being what it is. If I were a candidate, I think I’d bring my own camera to interviews, shoot the whole thing and post the unedited raw video on the Web.

The technology for this is easy – I’ve got a little Sony HD video camera that records on a chip and fits in a coat pocket or purse – and putting video on the Web is a snap, too.

Of course, the knowledge that this will happen is likely to be enough to keep people honest – but if anything is edited unfairly, the full video will tell the tale. No need to wait for Groundskeeper Willie to appear.

TV journalists won’t be happy with this, of course, but it’s hard to see a principled basis for objecting.

Especially since the MSM has had a reputation for ambushing anyone whose ideology they disagree with for decades; I recall reading articles that some Nixon era officials refused to go on TV interviews unless they were live. A few years before establishment liberal fossil Mike Wallace passed away at age 93, Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator described "the first time Mike Wallace had ever apologized to an elected official on air on 60 Minutes. For all I know, it still might be the only time. And 15 years later, in this age of Obama when the establishment media is hostile to conservatives, the episode still can teach lessons about how to fight back with the truth."