I had a swell time filling in for a fever-stricken Rush these last couple of days. But the Master returns live at 12 noon Eastern today.
If I say anything dumb on Rush, it's because it's live and I actually said it. On other shows, it requires a bit more work. Consider the fate of Peter Schiff, libertarian economist and former GOP Senate candidate, who foolishly accepted an invitation to appear on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart:
Schiff claimed that the interview was four hours long and that the Daily Show dug up bits and pieces of his answers "to piece together a meticulously edited segment that would portray me in the worst possible light."
And although the show promised that no answer of his would be edited out of context, Schiff claims they did just that: "In one case, fragments from several unrelated sentences were pieced together to form what seemed to be a continuous statement that I never actually spoke. Statements, made hours apart, were juxtaposed to create the false impression that they were related."
A four-hour interview for a segment lasting a couple of minutes? Well, it requires a lot of effort to make Jon Stewart look clever. Our friend Ed Driscoll drolly headlines his report "The Daily Ransom Show Note", but a four-hour "interview" is getting awfully close to a literal hostage situation. It's twice as long, for example, as the grueling interrogation Michael Mann was put through by Penn State for the "investigation" that "exonerated" him. Four hours - just so you could be edited into looking a chump on TV.
Peter Schiff should have known that, especially as it's apparently a well-established practice at "The Daily Show". (I've never seen the thing, but the editors did such a bad job carving up Jonah Goldberg that Jon Stewart was obliged to explain to viewers that the result was "choppy as hell".) Personally, I enjoy going on ideologically uncongenial telly shows, but it's important to have a few ground rules in the interests of self-protection: My preference with the ABC in Australia and the CBC in Canada is to do it live. That way, if the host is going to get his "Gotcha!" moment and nail your scalp up in his dressing room, he's going to have to earn it himself, rather than leave it to a Stewart-sized entourage and the marvels of technology. Tony Jones in Oz is no soulmate of the right, but I always have a good time when I'm on air with him. Likewise, my biennial appearances on the CBC with Evan Solomon and Rosemary Barton have not been too disastrous. But only a fool would agree to letting these guys edit you into the self-detonating right-wing nut they really want you to be:
I heard horrible stories about how much work was required to find dupes to be exploited, how much energy went into building trust with the interview subject, how many hours upon hours of taping were required to get one snippet that could be used to make fun of the target.
Anyone can win the Super Bowl in post-production.
PS That's all the more reason to note once again that Andrew Breiner of the leftie website ThinkProgress gave me a pretty fair shake the other day.