Last week, I posted about investment guru and commentator Peter Schiff's recent experience on The Daily Show. Talking about the minimum wage, Schiff stepped in all sorts of doo, some of it self-inflicted (e.g., such as suggesting that the "mentally retarded" would be willing to work for $2.00 an hour) and some of it classic Daily Show sandbagging.
Schiff talks to Mediaite about his experience on the show and says the producers misrepresented their editing process to him substantially:
Schiff was shocked when he saw the finished product. "They took little pieces and rearranged them, all designed to make me look bad," he added with an unmistakable hint of betrayal.
"They succeeded in making me look bad," he asserted. He adds that he and his brother have requested that The Daily Show release the entire four-hour interview, though they are not holding out much hope that this will occur.
While Schiff said that he thinks both Stewart and The Daily Show are "funny" and that the host has a "great sense of humor" and is a "nice guy," he asserted that the program underserves its audience.
I agree that the segment on the minimum wage wasn't particularly sharp. That's not just because I disagree with the overall point of it. Despite Schiff playing into their hands by suggesting that the "mentally retarded" would be happy to work for $2.00 an hour, overall the bit seemed very forced and overly broad in its humor. The fast-food workers event they visited wasn't even about jacking the federal iminimum wage from $7.25 to $8.00 or even $10 an hour—it was about doubling wages to $15.50. I suspect that even strong supporters of minimum wage hikes balk at the idea of doubling salaries. (Reason TV's coverage of the "strike," in which various protesters talk about how fast-food chains offered them jobs despite limited English and work experience, is online here).
On his own website, Schiff has released a producer's email to his brother Andrew to bolster the case that the show's manhandling of him wasn't fully on the up and up:
From: [redacted] [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 4:13 PM
To: Andrew Schiff
Subject: RE: FW: The Daily Show
We NEVER edit out of context. Meaning we never ever show responses to a question we never asked. For starters it LOOKS BAD! But in all seriousness it's not our prerogative to attack our interview subjects & slander them (unless they say really horrible, awful, racist things… but last I checked Peter doesn't say such things!).
The general idea is to pretend this is a real news interview & correct our correspondent when he/she asks goofy questions. Our questions usually come from misunderstanding the other side's arguments, for example. We want our interview subject to play the straight guy & that way they look normal & we look like the fool.
In this case Samantha Bee is our correspondent. She'll take things she heard at these fast food strikes & report them back to Peter. Peter tells Sam why she may be mistaken, or what the strikers aren't taking into account, etc. That's the general idea. And we'll go over all of this before we start up the cameras next week. (Peter & Jena can also discuss these concerns over the phone tomorrow.)
But rest assured– NOTHING will be edited out of context.
Yeah, well, that didn't work out so well for Schiff. Who grants that he should have known better. It's always interesting to see how media gets made, isn't it? I'm reminded by all of this that Penn Jillette once said in discussing Penn & Teller: Bullshit (I think it's in this Reason text and video interview). Penn took as a point of pride that nobody who had appeared on Bullshit had ever complained that they had been misrepresented. They might have been called every dirty name in the book and made fun of, but Penn & Teller were scrupulous in presenting the arguments of those with whom they disagreed. Which strikes me now just as basically accurate about the way Bullshit worked but pretty damn great as a general rule.
Anyhoo, here's The Daily Show segment with Schiff: