May 7, 2016

DOING TIME ON THE DAILY SHOW: Gavin McInnes explains what goes on behind the scenes, as the Viacom-owned show does “everything they accuse James O’Keefe of doing,” slicing and dicing footage and cutting in eye-rolling reactions from the host recorded after the interview is concluded, all designed to make the show’s conservative guests look as eeeeevil as they think their audience expects them to be, fresh meat to be “destroyed!” and “demolished!” by the host:

Though I’m confident I can discuss feminism and economics with clarity, I don’t actually know soccer players’ names, so when Minhaj asked me to name a few, I joked, “Bobby Daniels, Ziggler Norris, and a guy known to everyone as Junebug.” The last name was used to make it extra clear I was kidding. They had no idea. I know this because after the interview I told them they were made-up names and they were surprised. In the interview the correspondent was impressed with the names and called them “deep cuts.” In the edit they stick in a face where Minhaj sarcastically feigns interest like I’m an idiot. This is all over the interview. When you’re done talking, they capture a series of correspondent reactions they can put in later and they include this exasperated brow-pinching thing you do when you’re talking to a complete moron. On top of these edits, they add in voice-over where Minhaj can sound tough and yell, “You’re 0 for 2, Gavin” and “If you’re going to make up a name, you need to do better than Junebug.” Yeah, I know. That’s what a joke is.

Of course, the editing and voice-over are only the beginning. They had a team of researchers handling The Daily Show’s side of the argument. In the interview, the producer Stacey Angeles had her iPad ready to further Google any contradictions. “I want my information to be correct,” barked Minhaj at her when he appeared to be losing. His lap had a pile of notes on it, but they weren’t sufficient. They also had weeks afterward to carefully select a morsel that makes their argument look good. In the end, they were forced to pretend my joke was serious and put all their eggs in that basket. It was everything they accuse James O’Keefe of doing.

That’s been the experience of virtually everyone on the right who has appeared on the show, whether their interrogator was Jon Stewart, or current host Trevor Noah. In 2014, Megan McArdle’a assessment of the process was succinct: “Don’t Ever Appear on ‘The Daily Show.’”

At a minimum, as Glenn suggested in September of 2008 when Sarah Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC received a similar ransom note editing technique, “Bring Your Own [Video] Camera” to have your own documentation of the interview, which McArdle strongly suggests as well.