Monday, December 29, 2014

Dear person who shared a Daily Show link

Perhaps you are reading this post because you shared a Daily Show segment in an attempt to win an argument, and saw this link shared in response. Here's what you don't seem to understand.

The Daily Show exists as a comedy show. It is not a news program. But wait, you say, the quote-unquote comedy segments on the show are more real than the legit journalism you see elsewhere.

Nonsense, and I will prove it to you.

The tactics used by The Daily Show to produce its segments fail the most basic media ethics guidelines. Its producers lie and ambush peoples to trick them into getting on the show. Its editors surgically remove sentences from the middle of paragraphs to create foolish statements. Its reporters sit guests down to marathon four-hour interviews to produce gaffes,

If Fox News was doing this, you would be outraged.

Let me share some specific examples. Peter Schiff appeared in a segment last year on the minimum wage. The Daily Show gave a softball interview to pro-minimum wage advocate Barry Ritholtz, where they allowed him to do re-takes on answers they liked but he messed up.

Anti-minimum wage advocate Schiff cited specific examples where they edited out his smartest response, such as showing that The Daily Show doesn't pay its own interns a minimum wage, and instead focused on something they could smear him with, which was when he said someone with severe mental disabilities would probably be unable to sell their labor for the minimum wage.

Schiff was foolish to expect a fair treatment, despite being promised one, but that still doesn't let the show off the hook for misrepresenting people and turning serious arguments into cartoons.

Back in 2008, Conservative author Jonah Goldberg had his interview with Jon Stewart chopped up haphazardly as Stewart attempted relentlessly to win the argument.

But if you think this is just about conservative causes, look what happened this year with the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the segment about their criticism of a diner that gave a discount to people who pray before they eat. This was one of their own sponsors and generally a left-wing group. Here's how they describe the treatment:

As the terms of being interviewed, Dan and other "Daily Show" interviewees sign away any rights, including giving the "The Daily Show" the right to edit the interview any way they want, such as showing Dan answering one actual question with another answer. It's comedy, not news. Dan was interviewed by an in-your-face host for almost two hours. The spin on the segment, aired last night, was not just unsympathetic, but this time, frankly, not very funny. The punchline to Dan was: "You're a dick." 
Dan's point, made repeatedly during the interview, but not used, was: "If you think the Civil Rights Act is petty, then our complaint was petty." 
It's time for a quick reminder about why FFRF does not consider such illegal promotions as petty, and why, on behalf of complainants around the country, we contact restaurants, recreational facilities and ballparks that illegally reward believers with discounts in violation of the Civil Rights Act.

So once again, the actual thrust of their argument was cut out in order to present a goofy narrative.

Think of Daily Show segments as comedic propaganda, made to amuse people and assure them that their existing viewpoint is correct. If you are so desperate to prove your point that you have to turn to these kinds of tactics to find support, you have pretty much shown the opposite is true.

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