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The Media

Lauren Weinstein: If MTV Calls, Hang Up 761

Lauren Weinstein writes "Usually when one gets a call to participate in a news-oriented television program, subterfuge isn't a worry. But in the brave new world of 'newsertainment' -- a blurring of news and entertainment -- you really need to watch your back. Herein is the sordid tale (posted last night to Dave Farber's "IP" list) of what recently happened to me -- and my narrow escape -- when Viacom/MTV Networks came calling, asking for my help to educate the world's youth about important topics (in this case, the scourge of spam). Be warned. It could happen to you!"
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Lauren Weinstein: If MTV Calls, Hang Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:44PM (#9479163)
    For people that didn't read the article, it's actually a new show on Comedy Central [digitalspy.co.uk] called Crossballs [crossballs.com]. It's not MTV itself, or even a show on MTV.

    Comedy Central also produces the great The Daily Show [comedycentral.com], which I'm sure a few guests are upset they appeared on after it airs. (Host Jon Stewart recently jokingly asked on the show why anyone is still willing to appear). It's more widely known, though, and they seem to be open about who they are.
  • how silly. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:47PM (#9479185)

    from the if-only-it-had-been-live-instead dept.

    No shit, that would've been fun. She (I assume it's a she) could've gotten on there and gone on and on about how the "penis enlargement pills" she bought "worked great for her" and how she "wishes she had a boyfriend so she could let him try them too". He heh heh. But then one day "it fell off" and so now she's turned to the side of the spam-fighters. And she has it in a box offstage, should she go get it?

    Seriously, I consider *MSNBC* to be "newsertainment", so you can imagine my opinion of Mtv talk shows. *shiver*. I gave up on Mtv sometime in high school, a long time ago, once they stopped showing actual music.

    Mtv is like a giant parabolic reflector, collecting idiocy from far and wide and focusing it into a small rectangular screen. (Yeah I know, RTFA, it was actually Comedy Central but it's all a big heaping serving from the same vegetard stew).

  • Punk'd? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:47PM (#9479187) Homepage Journal
    After Punk'd, I would never speak with anyone remotely appearing to give me a hard time over anything whatsoever. I'd just walk away. Who would speak to MTV anyway? Aren't they just a bunch of asshats with lots of money but no direction whatsoever? I mean, I'd love to party with those guys because it'd be a blast... but to work seriously (or try to) with MTV would be like a game of career-Russian-roulette.
    • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:03PM (#9479276) Homepage Journal
      Serously, I will cheer that Assston tries to punk a real badass like Ray Lewis or Allen Iverson and it ends in a quadruple homicide, high speed car chase, dead innocent civilians and a billion dollar lawsuit against MTV.
    • Re:Punk'd? (Score:5, Informative)

      by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:07PM (#9479300)
      Since the shows are taped, they can't broadcast anything without a signed waiver, for fear of you sueing the bejesus out of them. Just stay clear of signing waivers that pertain to tapings of future events, and you'll be fine.
    • Re:Punk'd? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      Punk'd has at least one "lost episode" because the celeb involved refused to sign the release waiver. Everyone you see on that show has to approve their segment being aired, because the star involved most certainly can legally lock up the episode if they want to.

      There is also an example where a very aware star declared "If this is a joke, I want out of this car right now." She could have brought the stunt driver driving the car up on kidnapping charges (and pulled Ashton and everybody else involved in the
  • by scragz ( 654271 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @04:47PM (#9479188) Homepage

    The L.A. Times article (avoid folding the long URL!):
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-adfi-fr eston20j un20,1,5581013.story?
    coll=la-home-headlines online for now (registration required) tells the story of
    Tom Freston, chairman of Viacom's MTV Networks. The article suggests that Tom's
    style for MTV et al. might be the saving grace for Paramount and perhaps the
    rest of the entertainment industry.

    If MTV's model is the solution, we're in for big trouble. Hear my saga and avoid
    the fate that almost befell yours truly -- experts and spokespeople in the IP
    readership, you could be next!

    A few weeks ago, I got a call from a producer who identified herself as being
    with MTV Networks' "The Debate Project" - -- who wanted to book me onto a new
    debate format show in production, to be taped a few days hence. She described
    the show (which she never actually specifically named) as oriented toward young
    people about important topics, with guests who were experts in their respective
    fields. They wanted me to debate a known spammer (who they wouldn't identify at
    the time) regarding the scourge of spam. It would be fun she implied, since the
    audience would of course be on my side.

    While MTV Net producing a show like this seemed a bit odd, it's not unheard of
    for them to do topical programming. She assured me the program would definitely
    air on an MTV Network but wasn't sure which one yet. Odd, but I've gotten
    stranger calls from more ordinary news-oriented programs.

    They sealed the deal by promising to send a car so I wouldn't have to hassle
    with driving in to Hollywood from The Valley through late Friday afternoon
    traffic, and even said they'd throw in $200 (egads -- payment for a "news"
    appearance -- unheard of in my experience!)

    OK, I'll bite -- sounds more interesting than typical interviews anyway. Then
    followed more phone calls from other staffers questioning me at length on the
    topic of spam, an e-mailed message with similar questions, and finally all was
    set to go. They were really excited about my joining them the next day they kept
    saying, and would call me in the morning before sending the car.

    That same Thursday night, with the show scheduled for Friday, I was increasingly
    uncomfortable. There was a bad feeling I just couldn't shake, an almost animal
    instinct of something amiss that I couldn't put my finger on.

    When the show had originally called, I had done some cursory googling but
    couldn't fine anything relevant. This didn't seem too unusual for a show in
    production but not yet on air. Now I started googling in depth.

    At first I found nothing again. But then I started working backwards from the
    contact phone numbers I had for the show's production staff. This time I hit pay
    dirt, and while the pages unscrolled on my screen a cold chill ran down my

    As the recent, angry testimonials I had found recounted, with a matching of
    modus operandi that left no chance for error, the show on which I was about to
    appear was a fraud.

    Not really a debate at all, the show is actually a program for Comedy Central
    (yes, an MTV/Viacom network) called "Crossballs" -- and its sole purpose is the
    embarrassment and humiliation of the expert guests who are brought on expecting
    a legitimate discussion program.

    Crossballs is a rigged "reality" show, where real guests, who have been kept in
    the dark about the show's real format, are paired off against actors (playing
    the debate opponents) for the amusement of the live audience. The stories I read
    from persons recently on the show included descriptions of crude,
    sexually-oriented verbal attacks (and worse, like being handed various sexual
    "apparatus") and concerns that their reputations would be ruined once the shows

    As the alien commander said in "Plan 9 From Outer Space": "That was TOO close!"

    In a few hours I was scheduled t
  • coward (Score:4, Funny)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:01PM (#9479253)
    Even if the whole thing was a fraud, it should have been an experience to participate. Having known it was a setup, this would have been a great opportunity to spin things back on the hosts and have some fun.

    I would have loved an opportunity like this. I would have actually showed up and pretended once they started taping, that I was actually an anti-SPAM (the food from Hormel) advocate, or something equally goofy. At least you could have stood up in front of the studio audience and made a nice speech denouncing the quality of tv programming and how out of touch Viacom is with honest and decent programming.

    Instead you just bowed out... hell you didn't even let them send the car. Think of the potential. You could have called up an enemy and sent him on the show, or found a homeless guy and told him he could get a free meal and a ride for participating. The possibilities were endless.

    • Re:coward (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:02PM (#9479271)
      "Even if the whole thing was a fraud, it should have been an experience to participate. Having known it was a setup, this would have been a great opportunity to spin things back on the hosts and have some fun."

      It was NOT LIVE.

      If you did something clever back at them, they would edit it to make you look like a retard.
      • Re:coward (Score:5, Funny)

        by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:05PM (#9479291)
        It doesn't matter. The studio audience would be LIVE.

        If I were in that situation and I felt it was a trap, I'd say F*CK every other word. Let them try to edit that out.

        You could pull a "Tim Robbins" and wear a t-shirt that says "This TV show is a SHAM" or some other really nasty image/saying. Let them try to edit that out!

        You could call up the local obnoxious radio morning crew and tell them of the plan and work with them to cook up a dirty counter-trick. There's a pair of those sleazeballs in every area that live for this kind of stuff.

        ENDLESS POSSIBILITY FOR FUN... and it was all blown.... too bad.
        • Re:coward (Score:4, Insightful)

          by antic ( 29198 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:10PM (#9479315)
          And then when they use that footage against you elsewhere to imply that you're unprofessional?

          Best to not waste time with it or, as someone else said, send in some guy off the street for a free ride.
          • Re:coward (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:08PM (#9479625) Journal

            Because you misbehaved on a comedy show, that you KNEW was setting you up?

            God forbid any working professionals have a sense of humor, the f*cking world might collapse.

            It's that kind of mentality that makes this world a sick, sick, sick place. Yes, really.
        • Re:coward (Score:3, Informative)

          by chimpo13 ( 471212 )
          They edit out shirts on teevee all the time. They also edit out "not paid for" product placement when they're in someone's house/business. Say, I'm drinking an RC Cola who doesn't pay for product placement, and MTV shows up, they edit out the RC label. Crazy.
    • Re:coward (Score:3, Insightful)

      by doorbot.com ( 184378 )
      Instead you just bowed out... hell you didn't even let them send the car. Think of the potential.

      Well, it wasn't being filmed live, but disregarding that, one could always show up and inform the other guests whats going on, and then leave before the show starts. Let the legitimate guests in on the secret before they're embarassed...
      • Re:coward (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:42PM (#9479463)
        Well, it wasn't being filmed live, but disregarding that, one could always show up and inform the other guests whats going on, and then leave before the show starts. Let the legitimate guests in on the secret before they're embarassed...

        Whether it's live is irrelevant. Obviously it wouldn't be live.

        But if they're paying you $200 to make a fool out of you, imagine how much it probably cost them to set up and produce that show. If you showed up and made every bit of your footage unuseable, it would probably cost them thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

        People harping about them editing you out of context to look like an idiot is much ado about nothing. If you refused to speak, what's the worse they could do? Or if you wore some t-shirt under another shirt that you took off once they set everything up, that had some message that they couldn't broadcast (maybe a Slashdot.org t-shirt or the logo of their competitors). They could block it out but it wouldn't be too difficult to make it hard for them to use any of the footage... you could move around making the camera people go nuts trying to keep you in frame. There are lots of things.

        I think spreading the word about the show among the expert community will help, but it wouldn't hurt them as bad as spoiling an entire episode they had meticulously set up.
    • Re:coward (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iCat ( 690740 )
      Ali G did a similar show in the UK - I think it was broadcast on HBO. Who knows, maybe this is where MTV stole the idea. The Ali G shows were also taped and edited to show the 'guest' in the worst possible light. However, Ali G's interview with Tony Benn, the elder left-wing statesman of British politics, back fired. Benn threw everything back at Ali G with humourous contempt - and I think it was only at the very end of the segment that Benn (possibly) realised it was a set up.

      Other interviewsee of note:
  • Amazing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:01PM (#9479263)
    In the world of Daily Shows, Ali G., etc.-- as well as smartass miniDV documentaries [soldiersundercommand.com] I can't see why anyone, celebrity or not, talks to a camera crew anymore. You're just asking to have your quotes taken out of context and to be laughed at by the world.
  • Geez, lighten up (Score:5, Informative)

    by bscott ( 460706 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:03PM (#9479273)
    It's hardly the only show on the air which does this - "Ali G" from the UK (and HBO) is a great example, he's interviewed the likes of Newt Gingrich, C Everett Koop, Ralph Nader, Buzz Aldrin and many others, most of whom never caught on. I'm sure the basic concept goes back as far as audiovisual reproduction technology.

    The good satirical shows (like the Daily Show) merely allow genuine whackos and phonies to make fools of themselves; I'm sure there are also lowbrow shows which try to ambush and victimize unsuspecting guests as well. I dunno which sort this "Crossballs" will be (though there's one or two in the cast whom I know don't need to be doing crap to pay rent, so there's hope) but regardless, her reaction seems to be a bit over the top...
  • by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:04PM (#9479285) Homepage
    I believe the accepted term is infotainment, and in some cases - docutainment.

    • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:38PM (#9480974) Homepage Journal
      I believe the accepted term is infotainment, and in some cases - docutainment.

      I'm sorry, but these are just terms created by people hoping to sound like their profession actually means something.

      The actual term is 'crap.'

      Now edutainment can, on good days, mean something truly educational and valuable like 'Sesame Street' or 'Square One,' but believe me -- NOT if its on an MTV/Viacom channel....
  • by scupper ( 687418 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:04PM (#9479286) Homepage
    This seem like the Jerky Boys entertainment model gone amok. Recently here in Sacramento, CA, our County's Registrar of Voters officer Jill LaVine [sacramento.ca.us], got targeted by the same tactics used by Jon Stewart's Daily Show "Mock the Vote [comedycentral.com]". She fell for it, and our local paper did a story on it [sacbee.com].
    What's disturbing is that, in the story, a Pew survey was cited stating that [people-press.org]:
    21 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 said they regularly turn to "The Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live" for presidential campaign news.
    Even worse, they asked a local sociology professor from UC Davis about the trend, and she said:
    "They feel like it doesn't speak to their desires or interests, and part of that is just being young, but part of it is feeling like, 'What's the point of being informed because you can't change anything anyway,"
    • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:20PM (#9479379) Homepage
      The great thing about the Daily Show is that it's an actual news show: They cover real-world events, they report the actual facts, and only then do they start joking around. At least, they are no more or less accurate than any other TV news program. And since it's a comedy, and on cable, they can get away with more BS-calling and inconsistency-lampooning than most, and that's why it's so attractive to the younger generation.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The problem is that the older generation doggedly hangs on to the concept that "news" is the collection of all facts as being reported by ethical "journalists" regardless of how much these facts and reports affect profits. While that might have been true at some point, it's rarely true these days. And while some "journalists" may still be ethical, at least one of the editors up the chain will not be so.

        The younger generation has realized this, so they figure they might as well have some fun while watching
    • by vena ( 318873 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:45PM (#9479480)
      I went to a Daily Show taping recently, and before the show, John likes to have a little Q&A with the audience and lighten things up. one audience member asked him how he feels about this trend, and his reply was along the lines of "don't buy the hype." his view is that while people are making a conscious choice to view the Daily Show and enjoy the information presented (and its format), the assumption that this is the old place they're getting their news is profoundly naive. basically, that you can't escape the news. online, on television, talking to your friends, news--local, national, global, what-have-you, is an integral part of our society and claiming that people obtain their knowledge of world events from a single source is ignorant.

      i feel that i agree with his assessment.
  • MTV... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dark404 ( 714846 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:05PM (#9479293)
    makes -1 flamebait look +5 insightful
  • by MacFury ( 659201 ) <me@@@johnkramlich...com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:06PM (#9479297) Homepage
    I've always wanted to pretend to be President Bush's spokesperson during a gathering of reporters.

    According to President Bush, President Bush has never made a mistake. Also, should a mistake be made, President Bush will be unable to recall the mistake or any events that happened before and after said mistake. President Bush also would like you to know that any fact brought forth must meet with President Bush's approval. Failure of the fact to be approved makes the fact false. Only President Bush approved facts will be considered truthful.

    Of course...I don't know if I want to be killed as an "enemy combatant"

    • by mandalayx ( 674042 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:46PM (#9479781) Journal
      Reminds me of this quote perhaps applicable:

      "The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about."

      source: wikiquote [wikipedia.org]
    • Of *COURSE* Bush never made any mistakes. If he had, he might have to change his mind on a policy, and we can't have that. We all know that the reason we aren't supposed to vote for that unpatriotic John Kerry is that he has a histroy of flip flopping on issues. Such a terrible thing. I mean, here he was, supporting the Vietnam war...then he goes there and decides it's bullshit? What's that all about? Getting wounded and seeing your friends killed shouldn't be enough to make you change your mind on policy. Somebody should tell Kerry that if you feel yourself starting to change your mind in politics, you should just walk away. Relax a bit, go golfing. Ride your snowmobile through a protected national forest. Hang out on your ranch in Texas. And only when you've become reassured that your non working programs are the way to go should you even THINK about going back to work.
  • Viacom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479341)
    I guess $200 is the market value for a person's dignity according to Viacom.

    That must be a nice company to work for.
  • by Radon Knight ( 684275 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:14PM (#9479343)
    One sad thing about this is the very premise of the show. Experts in any field, by definition, possess information and knowledge which typically requires either (a) great scholastic ability, or (b) great native intelligence and/or intuition. IMHO, it seems that people possessing expert knowledge - which is really knowledge (think justified true belief, although this definition of knowledge is not up to date, it works as a starting point) - are the kinds of people who we, as a society, ought to respect, admire, and seek to emulate! Why should we take those individuals who represent the very pinnacle of human intellectual achievement and attempt to humiliate them in front of an audience under false pretenses?

    The answer, of course, is obvious: most people aren't experts. Most people aren't geniuses. Most people are within one standard deviation of the mean and are pretty satisfied with their abilities. Hobbes was right when he wrote that the surest proof that humans are approximately equal in intelligence is that most people are satisfied with their level of ability, and their is no better indicator of a fair distribution than when each person is satisfied with their share.

    Now, I could see supporting a show that took bogus experts as the target - i.e., those people who pretend to be able to talk to their dog, or to share karma with plants, use crystals to heal, etc. (but note that, under the abovementioned definition of knowledge that these people aren't really experts since they lack knowledge). That might be fun to watch. At the very least, it would serve the greater good of society by providing an intellectual function.

    But humilating smart people just so that some moron with barely enough intelligence to operate the remote can get his kicks? Bah. Give me the philosopher-kings of Plato anyday.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:38PM (#9479443)
      I think most people, including experts, need to stop taking themselves so damn seriously and learn to laugh at themsevles. We are all the butt of a joke from time to time. Rather than get all pissey about it, laugh. It's not just other people and viewpoints that are funny you and yours are as well.

      I don't see any problem with this, or with shows like the Daily Show. They are fun, and they people they pick on even can have fun too, if they just will roll with it and take a joke.

      John McCain is a great example. Back in 2000, they decided to pick on him and his wife. They got on his bus, asked him BS questions, and so on. He was nice and had fun the whole time. This, of course, invited more jokes on him in the future. It also lead to them rather liking him, and making him a fairly frequent guest where he does get to speak his mind to a latge number of young voters.

      Really, the problem with many experts is that they are so focused on their issue, their area of expertise, that nothing about it is funny. They act like they are on a divine mission or something and if you poke fun at it, you are benieth contempt.

      Well guess what? The world is FULL of "most important issues" and "things nobody can laugh at" and most of them are funny to somebody else. People need to lighten up a bit and learn that yes, you are funny too and no, you don't hold the One True Way and the moral righteousness that is untouchable.
      • Your post reminded me of a segment I heard with a writer from The Onion. He said that every week that get email with the following basic setup:

        "I read The Onion every week and I love it! However this week you joked about (BLANK). (BLANK) is just not funny. (BLANK) is a very serious matter and not something to joke about. So please in the future don't joke about it. Thank you."

        Of coarse BLANK was different every week and about every topic The Onion would make fun of. Sigh.
      • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:15PM (#9479646)
        Typically, the Daily show makes fun of the current state of journalism and their questions reflect that. The people they interview aren't the ones being mocked.

        Except of course the really nutty people they have on the program. In which case, the Daily Show plays them straight and lets them hang themselves.
      • by adamruck ( 638131 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:23PM (#9479681)
        You have a point. Everyone needs to have fun. Everyone needs to live a balanced life.

        The situation this article is talking about is not about having fun(Why wouldn't they tell her the actuall premise of the show outright?). This is about creating a culture that demeans intellectual people. I think that mainstream culture today glorifies joe sixpack/beergut. That in my opinion is wrong.
        • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:04PM (#9480095) Homepage
          Possibly because the intellectuals come up with terms like "Joe Sixpack/Beergut" for everyone else?
      • by justins ( 80659 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:52PM (#9480370) Homepage Journal
        Really, the problem with many experts is that they are so focused on their issue, their area of expertise, that nothing about it is funny.

        You're totally right. I really hope the next time I'm watching CNN and they're interviewing a WMD expert or talking about the Sudan genocide, they find a way to get some laughs out of it. I mean, lighten up, people!

        Look, if you're interested in anything more important than MTV or the useless crap in People magazine, you're going to have to live with the occasional sober conversation. Some things are important enough that they need to be discussed, even though they're not funny at all.

        I don't see any problem with this, or with shows like the Daily Show. They are fun, and they people they pick on even can have fun too, if they just will roll with it and take a joke.

        The Daily Show is nothing like what is described here. One of Jon Stewart's most impressive talents is the way he manages to keep everything lighthearted and funny without humiliating his guests, even when he's making jokes at their expense. Everyone, including the guests, typically goes away with a smile.

        Some of that is enlightened self-interest: a good guest is someone worth having on again, not someone you want to humiliate. But mostly it's just good lighthearted comedy (and good interviewing), which is so rare today.
  • by major.morgan ( 696734 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:17PM (#9479364) Homepage
    It's not just these "reality" or "newtainment" shows. I have had unfortunate experiences twice with local newsmedia stations. The most egregious was on a weekly topical debate program that took an issue and supposedly explored all sides. I even watched this show semi-regularly. I was asked on the show and had several "producers" talk about how they appreciated me being there to help people understand.

    I was waiting in a room off-stage for my appearance a little bit into the show, when the host instructed the staff to cut the feed to the room as the show started (Should've realized then). When it came time for me to come on, the host had prepped the scene for me to be immediately attacked by all involved. He supervised this extremely well, making sure to interrupt me, discount me or flat-out cut me off whenever I had a reasonable and logical statement or tried to defend myself (since his show was about expousing his view and not exploring anything). Watching the show at home later I see that he set this up from the beginning (when my view was cut).

    After seeing the tactics first hand, I could see how this show was a sham all along. Every episode had the same strategy, that now was transparent to me.

    Be very suspicious of the media when they come looking for you, they quite simply will lie to get what they want out of you - and make no mistake they will set you up, sell you out or edit the whole thing into something unrecognizable without any qualms or remorse.

    BTW- It was "Town Meeting" on KOMO4, Seattle, WA
    • by Pfhor ( 40220 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:53PM (#9479535) Homepage
      Most news shows do this, I have seen this happen on both sides.

      What gets me is when someone on the Right claims that a Left group does this, but denies O'Reilly of doing the same tactics.

      Or the new "Michael Moore Hates America" movie, which from all appearances does an exposé on how manipulative and lying a documentary can be. Of course, the director misses the point that by doing a video documentary, which of course is a selective medium, the director is doing the same "tactics" that Moore does. You know, taking people out of context, rushing them on issues, manipulating their words, etc. (of course, the overall idea of Moore's Bowling for Columbine documentary which I saw was the use of Fear to manipulate and control the populace, the media's partake in it, and the government's use of it. As is F. 9/11 looks to be going more into).

      Also as someone who has made a documentary, the medium is very maleable. I'd never be in someone elses video actually, and I understand why moore wouldn't be in the "anti moore" documentary.

      Anyway, I am sorry you got manipulated by that circumstance, thought I would throw in my two cents.
      • "I'd never be in someone elses video actually, and I understand why moore wouldn't be in the "anti moore" documentary."

        Yet if some 'evil corporate CEO' was to refuse to be in a Moore documentary, that would be proof that they are evil, right?

        I've been on TV a few times, but I've made sure to only be on when they want to twist the story the same way I want to twist it... otherwise they're only going to make you look bad whatever you do.

        Of course there are other tactics that work: I've heard that when Tony
      • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:16AM (#9481512) Homepage Journal
        Probably the least favorite thing about Moore's documentary style is his insistance that he should be able to walk into any building in the US and get an immediate meeting with the head of the company.

        The fact is, CEOs are usually busy doing something, and most of them don't want to be in a movie that incriminates them. The fact that they don't want to answer questions with no preparation time doesn't make them evil.

      • Of course, the director misses the point that by doing a video documentary, which of course is a selective medium, the director is doing the same "tactics" that Moore does.

        Well, what if that *is* the point. Then, he's hit it right on.
    • My only experiences with reporters have been with them trying to put words into my mouth.

      Back in the early '90s, I was involved in the pro-life movement (don't want to get into a debate about that now, what matters is the way reporters handled the story), and one of the things I did, being a good First Amendment type, was to test an injunction that said that certain name people or organizations, or anyone acting in concert with those individuals or groups, could not come within 30 feet of a particular abor
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:25PM (#9479393)
    I can speak for all the Daytime talk/interview shows but I know of at least 3 local/ny/nj market shows and one national (intials JJ) which were recruiting guests who implicitly knew what they were expected to deliver and had it made perfectly clear that reality didn't matter.

    On a deeper level these shows are much like kingsnakes, in that they seek people that are looking for attention/notoriety/selfpromotion and they give it to them in spades. This one is however is apparently going over the line by a wide margin. Aside from the damage that could be done to the guests careers, divorces and murders have occured due to the ill considered actions of these shows (Jenny Jones outing a Homosexual unrequited love by example).

    If there is any part of our society that needs to have its feat held to the fire its the news media. Wheather it be the financial press that serves as a megaphone for pump and dumpers (Forbes the capitolists tool) the political newsmedia ( you pick) or any other form of "reporting". Lack of malice isn't enough there has to be due dilligence when the results can and do prove devastating.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:27PM (#9479403) Homepage
    Google is your friend. You can look up what reporters have written.

    My general position is that I'll always talk to the working press, but I blow off "lifestyle" reporters. Running a DARPA Grand Challenge team [overbot.com], I get a fair amount of press interest. Some of it is wierd. Playboy and Men's Life contacted me for interviews. There were documentary producers, including one guy with an Alcatraz fixation. (He'd done five TV documentaries on Alcatraz.)

  • by cluge ( 114877 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:28PM (#9479405) Homepage
    One can't help but feel sorry for the legit news folks over at CBS' "60 Minutes" and other excellent news programs....

    You are kidding right? The news program that almost drove Audi out of business with it's false inaccurate reporting?[ http://www.forbes.com/forbes/1999/1115/6412145a_pr int.html] The same news program that lines up it's guests to co-incide with their book releases (See Bill Clinton)? The same network (CBS) that uses pyrotechnics (20/20) to "demonstrate" what happens when a full sized pickup was hit - because it wouldn't catch on fire otherwise? [http://www.car-forums.com/s10/t2240.html]

    I thought the author was a bright guy, up until that comment. 60 minutes may have at one time been a respectable news magazine. That has not been the case for almost 2 decades IMHO. If 60 minutes knocks on your door and they have decided your "guilty", you have a better chance at getting your side of the story heard on cross balls.

    In the end - isn't that whats the most sad?

    AngryPeopleRule [angrypeoplerule.com]
  • by babba ( 736335 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:30PM (#9479417)
    Am I the only one who cringes at a Spam expert letting his/her e-mail address be posted unprotected on a site?
  • by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:31PM (#9479420) Homepage Journal
    Read his promo info, his most recent appearance was on the Art Bell show, need I say more?


  • Sauce for the goose (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AnotherBlackHat ( 265897 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @05:45PM (#9479481) Homepage
    I've often wondered how they would react if you asked for the same rights that they ask of you -
    to tape, edit, and broadcast the performance.

    -- not a .sig
  • by bruns ( 75399 ) <bruns AT 2mbit DOT com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#9479616) Homepage
    Ahh, I knew this type of stuff sounded very familiar.

    I was going to be doing something on the Daily Show apparently being pitted against the one and only Snotty Scotty Richter, the spammer now being hunted by the NY AG's office.

    Within 6 hours of saying yes, I'd go on the show that monday, I spoke with my other admins and several of my advisors who warned me against it, and promptly e-mailed the producer back and said I'm sorry, but something has come up.

    I avoided a rather bad sitation, from what I can see. Needless to say, I've been very careful since then on who I allow to interview me for spam fighting stuff and similar.
    • But you knew it was the Daily Show right? If they had hidden the fact that they were the Daily Show from you, then I think it would be the same. Even if you didn't know beforehand what the Daily Show was, you could easily find out.
    • I saw the segment with Scott Richter, it was funny, and the only person made out to be a fool was Richter himself. The person who replaced you was teased a little ("What about the people who want spam? Aren't you hurting them?"), but has absolutely no reason to be sorry about the final result.

      I might worry if the Daily Show wanted to interview me about a controversial subject, but for something as clearly one-sided as spam, I wouldn't hestitate to talk to them.
  • by scupper ( 687418 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:16PM (#9479650) Homepage
    These pranks reminded me of who probably inspired them, the Canadian show "This Hour has 22 minutes [wikipedia.org]" in their feature "Talking to Americans [wikipedia.org]".

    In 2000, Rick Mercer [wikipedia.org] posed as a reporter and asked Bush for comments on Canadian Prime Minister "Jean Poutine's" endorsement of his candidacy for President [wikipedia.org]. Canadians start a trend again.
  • My general advice (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigberk ( 547360 ) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:24PM (#9479684)
    Quite simply, avoid talking to the media whenever possible. You can definitely expect them to put some kind of spin on whatever you say -- whether it's meant to add excitement, satisfy their existing bias, or for whatever other reason (lack of skill / stupidity). A close friend of mine was severely embarassed in our community due an idiot reporter who entirely misrepresented/misquoted what my friend said. The lesson for me was, reporters are not smart people and even if they mean well they can screw up big time, hurting you in the process, and nobody cares to read retractions. When the media comes knocking, keep your mouth shut.
    • Re:My general advice (Score:3, Informative)

      by rynthetyn ( 618982 )
      A close friend of mine was severely embarassed in our community due an idiot reporter who entirely misrepresented/misquoted what my friend said.

      Reminds me of some friends a while back (probably about a dozen years ago now), who agreed to be interviewed and photographed by our local paper, which was doing a story about homeschooling, which has been legal in Florida since the early 1980s. Anyway, one Sunday morning, they opened the local paper to find their photograph on the front page under the large point
  • Pity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slonkak ( 648358 ) <slonkak@@@kevinslonka...com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @06:36PM (#9479726) Homepage
    I feel sorry for those folks who work in the phone center making these calls who are only there because they need a job in order to support their families. I feel expecially sorry for those people who know exactly what they're getting people like Lauren into when they make the phone call or send the e-mail.

    Some of my friends thrive on such programs. Punk'd is one of their favorites. I can't stand it. For those of you who have never heard of it, it airs on MTV. The premise of this show is the same as the debate show, except they take more extreme measures. Instead of arguing with you, they'll have your house repossessed and make you think you just lost your home, until the end of the show when they inform you it was only a joke. I've seen people start to cry on this show. Somehow, I'm not finding this funny!

    Some people think of this as genius, I see it as a striving reach for attention. These people need help, I can't provide it, but someone has to.
    • Re:Pity (Score:5, Informative)

      by DJayC ( 595440 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:08PM (#9479886)
      The difference is that Punk'd pulls pranks on celebrities. That is much different than asking experts to debate only to make fun of them by re-editing / taking out of context / etc. Punk'd draws a lot of its entertainment value on the premise that the people in hollywoord are "perfect" people, and the public eye is usually created by the media. Seeing these people upset over something for 15 mins shows another side... None of the people on Punk'd would lose their job or reputation. Most of the time the people involved are "friends" of Ashton Kutchers.

      I don't have a problem with Punk'd but this Crossballs thing seems malicious. The guest's reputation is on the line.
  • This story inspired me to write my blog entry Democracy in U.S.: Ridicule and bullying [underreported.com]:

    As highlighted by slashdot.org [slashdot.org], according to a mailing list posting [vortex.com] (mirror [lerfjhax.com]):

    From: Lauren Weinstein

    [...] Subject: Warning to IP Readers: When "The Debate Show" Calls -- Hang Up!

    [...] They wanted me to debate a known spammer (who they wouldn't identify at the time) regarding the scourge of spam. It would be fun she implied, since the audience would of course be on my side.

    [...] Crossballs is a rigged "reality" show, where real guests, who have been kept in the dark about the show's real format, are paired off against actors (playing the debate opponents) for the amusement of the live audience. The stories I read from persons recently on the show included descriptions of crude, sexually-oriented verbal attacks (and worse, like being handed various sexual "apparatus") and concerns that their reputations would be ruined once the shows aired.

    The nature of Crossballs is confirmed by a couple of other sources. According to a gopusa.com [gopusa.com] commentary:

    This show is not "The Debate Show," as advertised and the name they use to procure panelists, but "Crossballs" a newly produced show for Comedy Central, owned by Viacom and MTV networks, and is a spoof of political debate shows that seeks to mock conservatives with actors posing as some of the panelists.

    One such real panelist, who thought the show was going to be a serious debate show, was a conservative activist from California who prepared to appear on the show to talk about the 2nd amendment. Jim March, whose account we have attached, is a 2nd amendment activist and was mocked and ridiculed by a "psychologist" who said he had sexual issues and offered him a two month supply of penis enlargement pills if he gave up his guns.

    Nowhere in the material for "The Debate Show" and the press releases for the upcoming "Crossballs" do they make the connection, or let you in on the joke that the "actor panelists" debate the real panelists, complete with props and "live feed" video designed to mock and make fun of the real panelists and their conservative views.

    And according to a June 15, 2004 story [digitalspy.co.uk] from digitalspy.co.uk, an entertainment newsblog:

    Debate shows on US cable news channels such as CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Hardball are to be "skewered" by a new Comedy Central show, Crossballs.

    The new show will feature comedians posing as experts debating real people who don't realise that the show is a sham.

    "Shot in front of a live audience, Crossballs is a smart, comedic spoof of programs such as Crossfire, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and the entire Fox News Network," explains Comedy Central.

    The show premieres on Tuesday, July 6 at 7:30pm ET and will air for eight consecutive weeks.

    In similar display of mockery, according to a Jun 5, 2004 dc.indymedia.org story [indymedia.org]:

    A small but determined group of about 60 demonstrators displayed their anger and disgust in front of the offices of Arlington defense contractor, CACI last week.

    CACI is the firm recently implicated in the report by U.S. Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. CACI employees "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib," according to the report. Taguba strongly reco

  • The first rule of /. club is do not post a link to anything hosted on your own server.
    The second rule is /. is club is... do not talk about /. club!

    That said, does anyone have a mirror?
    • Here [lerfjhax.com] is a mirror (not mine).

      If I were him I would have called and said I'd be late and then not showed up. I have a hard time believing people find this stuff entertaining.
  • Entrapment as Comedy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by keefey ( 571438 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:41PM (#9480988)
    After a brief look at the Crossballs website, it sounds very much like it's a version of the UK's The Day Today (Chris Morris), and Brass Eye (again Chris Morris). These programmes take the concept of "current affairs", and then parody this.

    The difference, however, (as far as I can see) is that Brass Eye etc tend to have a good stance as their founding, i.e. to target the media's mass-hysteria around particular subjects (especially drug use, paedophiles etc), and mock not only their shock-tactic approach to manipulating the public, but also mock the approach that "celebrity" take when trying to advocate their own standpoints (to the point where they'll make any given "scientific" statement to make them out to be a positive public influence on the matter).

    This show, however, seems to make its comedy focus as simply a vehicle for the public humiliation of known experts in a given field. How they do this, I don't know (having never seen the show), so I cannot comment on its extremity, but it does seem somewhat cruel without a differing message to counteract it.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll