One of the more popular videos on YouTube right now is a replaying of Congressman Wexler’s interview on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Colbert tells the Congressman since he is unopposed in the election he can’t lose, but suggests some things for him to say that could lose him the election if he was opposed. So on camera, and with considerable coaching, he gets him to say, “I enjoy cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do,” then “I enjoy prostitutes because it’s a fun thing to do.” Yes, the good Congressman, with a slightly uncomfortable smile actually says those things.
But that’s not what the YouTube posting is about. It is about Fox News’ coverage of the statements. Clearly the video poster is outraged that Fox News would cover this and then demonstrate their extreme rightwing bias by actually editing the Colbert Report video to skip the prompting and coaching. Colbert asks the question and Wexler answers.
My comments. First of all, it is pretty funny and Colbert shows his ability to entertain through the outrageous. Second, it was a very silly thing for the Congressman to do. Of course, when you go on Comedy Central you want to go along with the fun, but certainly he ought to be media savvy enough to know that anything captured on video tape can and likely will be used completely out of context. That’s why one of the first lessons of media training is when the cameras are rolling and the mike is on, don’t goof around. Reagan’s offhand comment about launching the missiles ought to be warning for everyone.
Third, what a hopelessly naive young man who posted that video and commented about Fox’s coverage. His complaint was that they edited it. Well, duh. That’s what news people do. Do they edit it in ways that shows the story they want to show? Of course, that is their business. Is Fox the only one who does this? Yeah, right. Is this only done against Democrats by right wing media? Yeah, right again.
The real lesson is this video poster may watch news coverage all day long and not notice the bias and storytelling that is at the heart of all edited news coverage until it conflicts with his own political leanings. None of us are unbiased, none truly objective. But our viewpoint almost always is, we are the balanced, objective, truth-only ones and anyone who doesn’t see it our way is either ignorant or malicious. This interesting clip tells far more about the outraged young editor who is attempting to unmask Fox than it says anything about Fox or the rest of the media–including bloggers.