I was watching The Daily Show last night (it was a rerun that had originally aired June 26th), and Ted Koppel was on, promoting his four-part series, Koppel on Discovery: The People’s Republic of Capitalism. (It debuts tonight through July 12th on the Discovery Channel at 10 PM ET/PT.) This was one of the weirder guest segments I’d ever seen. First, Mr. Koppel brought an adorable black puppy with him, set her on the table, and said that if a lot of people didn’t tune in for Koppel on Discovery, he would be forced to send “Pepper” to “the Bide-A-Wee farm.” (As Pepper sat there obliviously, lapping water from Koppel’s Daily Show mug.) I know it was a joke, but I take the health and safety of adorable puppies very, very seriously.
Then Ted moved on to the topic at hand — China — and flubbed some pretty big figures, saying that China’s population is “1.3 million, and 300,000 people are doing pretty well… moving into middle class.” (The actual pop is 1.3 billion, and 300 million people are now considered middle class. Oops!) But then, apparently a bit discombobulated, Koppel said something else, but the Daily Show people obviously overdubbed his vocals, because his lips were not moving in conjunction the words I heard coming from my TV set. (See the clip below, but be forewarned, due to the wack nature of most video-streaming technology, it all looks a little out of sync.) But I must’ve rewound and watched that segment 10 times, so I’m pretty sure I know what I saw.
And I felt kind of cheated. I KNOW that The Daily Show is not a “real” news show, and that their producers usually edit segments, but The Daily Show is real-er than most of what’s on FOX (my opinion, yes), and literally changing what a legendary newsman said while discussing a very real-world topic just threw me for a loop. I guess I want my fake news to simulate real news as best it can.
What do you think? Being that a lot of people now get their news from sources like The Daily Show, do such shows have an obligation to hew to fact when not, you know, running with hilarious segments like Ed Helms’ now-classic “Homometer” sketch? Or is it just a fun show and I should relax already?