Minimum Wage

Peter Schiff Talks To Mediate About The Daily Show and Mininum Wage Hijinks


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] [] 
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:

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  1. I have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone who does an “interview” with The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

    1. I’ve seen Stewart be fair and reasonable interviewing people he disagrees with, but if you’re being interviewed by one of the “correspondents,” you’re being set up. I can only imagine Schiff had never seen the show before.

      Why anyone would go on Colbert is beyond me. It’s like people who used to go on “Hot Seat with Wally George” and expect some sort of real debate.

      1. No such thing as bad publicity?

        I mean if your main goal is publicity instead of reasonable discourse then why not?

        1. If you’re promoting a political viewpoint, there is such a thing as bad publicity.

  2. Who doesn’t love hearing from a billionaire that they’re worth. less.

  3. “So, Samantha, you’re going to air all four hours, right?”

    1. Shit, I can’t wait to see that. It sounds fascinating.

  4. Bullshit over The Daily Show any day of the week.

  5. A lot of the things Schiff says are true, they just get lost when they nail him dropping the word ‘retarded’.

    1. What do they want you to call people who are actually mentally retarded these days? I have to keep up on this, because I have a mentally retarded family member and apparently we’re doing it wrong.

      1. I have a cousin who got brain damage at birth, and I’ve never had a problem with people referring to her as retarded. I still love her and everything, so not sure how that’s wrong. It’s not like it’s inherently pejorative.

        1. It used to be a euphemism. Then it became descriptive. Then it became a pejorative. Now it means something else, depending on the context and how PC the other person is.

          I use “retarded” all the time to describe actions, but then I revel in being un-PC.

      2. What do they want you to call people who are actually mentally retarded these days?


    2. Haven’t see the clip, but I’m going to guess the angle was “look how the mask slips and he admits that really what he wants to do is take advantage of retarded people who don’t know they aren’t being paid a fair wage!” Which would be intentionally misunderstanding Schiff, of course, but I don’t think they’re merely getting distracted by the word.

  6. Goddamn autoplay!

  7. You’d think someone who’s actually IN the media now and again would know better. But there’s still a sucker born every minute, apparently.

    Even l’il ol’ anonymous me learned, from interviews with local news orgs about utterly benign subjects (fortunately) the dictum that “you will ALWAYS be misquoted – ALWAYS”. It happened literally every time…”that’s not what I said!”

    Fuck Stewart and Colbert. It’s literally been at least a decade since I watched either one. No longer funny, and they take themselves seriously – fatal flaws for would-be comedians.

    Speaking of which, when the hell do we get the next season of “The Jeselnick Offensive”? THAT guy is FUNNY…

  8. The fact that Schiff thinks its mostly “kids” working at fast food places means he hasn’t actually been in one since 1991.

  9. Schiff first appeared on The Daily Show in June of 2009 where he joined Jon Stewart for an in-person interview. “I came there expecting him to be hostile,” Schiff said. “He’s liberal and I’m libertarian conservative, so I expected it to be confrontational.” He said he was pleasantly surprised to discover at the time that he was greeted warmly and that the audience was not as hostile to him and his views as he expected.

    It is with this prior experience that Schiff agreed to sit down for an interview to serve as the opposing view in a debate about increasing the minimum wage. He knew he could be walking into a trap, as he revealed, “but you remain optimistic that maybe it’s not.”

    I guess that kind of explains why he did it.

    1. IT’S A TRAP!

      Oh, too late. Sorry.

  10. Schiff needs to sdfu and stop crying.

  11. Nick, I never suggested that the intellectually disabled work for $2 per hour, or any figure for that matter. Samantha Bee asked me to describe someone who would be willing to work for $2 per hour. That was her number; she came up with the $2 figure on her own. I had nothing to do with it. All I did was correctly answer her question. Since I knew that the intellectually disabled were exempt from the minimum wage, and knew from personal experience that many do in fact work for $2 per hour, some even less, I correctly answered her question. She did not realize that the intellectually disabled were exempt. I explained to her the reason for the exemption, and used my wife’s aunt as an example. So how did I step in dodo? I guess I could have pretended that I did not know the answer to her question.

    1. Hey, how do we know you are the real Pete Schiff?

      Maybe if you posted a pic of your orphans holding a piece of paper with today’s date while holding your monocle and tophat?

      If for no other reason than for us to see how nice the orphans of billionaire libertarians are.

    2. Actually Peter, that $2 per hour figured might have actually come from me.

      Let me explain.

      While The Daily Show was talking to you about being on the show, they were talking to me as well. I guess you were Plan “A” and I was Plan “B” or greater.

      As I’m sure you had to deal with, I ended up on a phone conversation with one of the segment producers, chatting about the minimum wage. I mentioned that I thought it was ridiculous that someone who might want to work for $2 per hour can’t.

      Now, as history shows, they decided to have you on the show, rather than yours truly. That’s perfectly fine with me, and not just in hindsight. You’re an economist, and I’m primarily a blogger. You know this stuff better than I do, and I know it.

      I’m sorry that this blew up on you. I was very much ready for it to blow up on me, and was ready to refute it by listing what the full experience was like. Kind of like what you did.

      Now, if someone asks why *I* would go on the show, I have to ask you a question. Do you know who Tom Knighton is? No? That’s why. Anything to try and get some press for myself and the blogs I contribute to. The Daily Show was the biggest stage I’ve ever been asked to be part of, and I saw the chance to make something of it.

      So, take that for what it’s worth.

    3. So how did I step in dodo?

      You stepped in it by not doing your due diligence and watching some past episodes and realizing you’d be subject to a hostile edit taking what you said out of context.

      These segments ALWAYS make the other person look bad. If they somehow anticipate the traps and avoid stepping in it, they never show up on air, the whole interview gets trashcanned.

    4. Peter, at the very least, you should have insisted as a condition of the interview that you could have all the raw footage.

    5. oh your such a victim, peter. taken in or out-of-context your remarks were revolting.

      1. derp da derp da tiddly terp.

      2. Don’t you have to go annex the sudetenland or wipe out Kulaks or something?


    6. Come on, Peter. You knew they were a pack of leftards, why in the world would you expect them to keep their word?


  12. So how did I step in dodo?

    You went on The Daily Show and expected fair treatment.

  13. Awesome hat tip to Ali G.

  14. can someone please show me where anything peter schiff said is inconsistent with libertarian economics? what difference does it make if samantha bee planted the $2 figure in the piece or not? peter schiff seems to think that makes some sort of difference. its his politically-incorrect usage of mentally retarded that’s the problem? i disagree… i think the problem and the reaction to the piece is to the gall of a multi-millionaire dictating wages that you can’t live on to the unwashed masses. personally, peter, if you are reading this, why are you running away from the logic of your convictions?

    1. Then don’t fucking work for him.

      Oh and stop electing fucking shitbag socialist who keep all of the goddamn pie to themselves and then pretend they’re fighting for “the working man”.

  15. I was under the assumption that Schiff knew what he was getting into, as he’s his father’s son and has always been willing to go into the lion’s den in defense of Austrianism (see his OWS video). That and there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    If he legitimately didn’t know that he was going to be targeted by the Daily Show, Peter needs to hire someone to vet his media appearances and interviews.

  16. “You’re worth what you’re worth.”

    Anyone who attempts to explain the way the minimum wage works by dropping all the way down to Econ 101 and an elementary understanding of Supply and Demand deserves to made a fool of. Last time I checked, labor isn’t represented in the governing bodies of most businesses. To suggest that we live in some economic utopia where wages are 100% correlated to an individuals contribution to an organization is “mentally retarded”.

    It doesn’t make sense to have the federal government set wages in any way, but it shouldn’t surprise us that the public pushes it to do so. If shareholders force Americans to compete with workers under oppressive, corrupt, mercantilist governments they’re not going to have any leverage to negotiate their wage. Workers take whatever shit wage employers offer. For people whose skills aren’t in-demand, that wage is nowhere near enough to pay for any training or education they need to change their skill set.

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