It’s annoying when news outlets and opinion commentators falsely ascribe seriousness or comedy to something to fit their bias. If someone they like says something outrageous, then it was just a silly joke, not meant to be taken seriously and thus can’t be offensive – but if someone they don’t like makes a joke that could be taken as mean spirited, the reverse logic is applied in the reporting of the comment. The Daily Show fits this balance perfectly in that supporters who think Jon Stewart may have made a particularly devastating point are able to tout the show as truth speaking journalism, however if a detractor tries to criticize a point made on the show, its supports and in fact Stewart himself, dismiss it because after all its a “fake news” comedy show. duh.
Here are 2 examples I recently noticed involving James O’Keefe, a 25 year old activist who specializes in illustrating absurdity by being absurd, such as holding an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” in college (an event popular among Campus Republicans nation-wide where the racial discrimination of affirmative action, which lowers standards for racial minorities, is illustrated in a bake sale by charging whites more for a cookie than a minority). His latest work released a series of 5 hidden camera videos showing corrupt employees of community activist group ACORN, a Democrat front-line group closely associated with Barack Obama, helping him cheat the tax system, hide and operate a whore house, traffic illegal aliens, and use 13 year old El Salvadorian girls as sex slaves. In fact these revelations recently led congress to cut funding to ACORN.
Right wing media has been calling O’Keefes expose a “sting” and “journalism the mainstream media used to do” while left wing media has dismissed it as “Borat style gotcha-videos”.
Steve Krakauer, a writer for Mediate.com, is clearly not a fan of O’Keefe as displayed in a recent piece investigating and mocking O’Keefe. The title, Right Wing Darling James O’Keefe: The Man Who Exposed ACORN and Lucky Charms, gives the tone of the article away, but the snarkiness is also misleading. Krakauer reports about O’Keefe on the Lucky Charms thing:
He waged a campaign against dining halls serving Lucky Charms. You see, besides being magically delicious, O’Keefe thought the cereal was offensive to Irish Americans.
That sounds… odd. And it should. because it isnt true. The Mediate columnist failed to mention that O’Keefe didn’t find the cereal offensive, but rather was satirizing the idea that anyone would find it offensive. I was fooled by Mediaites mis-reporting on this myself until I read the real background from the New York times:
In 2004, at a buddy’s suggestion, he and a few fellow Rutgers students set out to satirize what they saw as a pious sensitivity to ethnicity on campus. The result is still there to see on YouTube: Mr. O’Keefe protesting to a slightly befuddled university dining official that the leprechaun on the cereal box “appears to be an Irish-American.”
“As you can see, we’re not short and green — we have our differences of height — and we think this is stereotypical of all Irish-Americans,” Mr. O’Keefe deadpans, as the official earnestly scribbles notes.
I appreciated the Times clearing that up for me as a reader, however in that very same column the author Scott Shane says this of O’Keefe’s previous under cover endeavors:
He has lampooned liberals by inviting them to become pen pals of imprisoned terrorists, and, more darkly, recorded Planned Parenthood staff members agreeing that he can designate his donation exclusively to the abortion of black babies.
eh.. “Lampooned”?… Really? I thought “lampoon” meant comedic satire, ie: the National Lampoon Chevy Chase movies were humorous satirizations of American life, aka: actors acting out a comedy.
Before I embarrass myself by having to make a correction, I went and looked it up and “lampoon” in fact means “a harsh satire”. So… what exactly is the satire taking place here? How are you “lampooning” anything when you ask an abortion advocacy group if you can donate money to kill black babies and they say yes, or ask a government aided organization if you can get help trafficking 12-15 year old south and central american girls to be used as sex slave prostitutes and getting help?
Satire should be reported as satire. Jokes as jokes. Serious acts as serious acts.
First tell the truth. then give your opinion.