April 1, 2010
Missing the point

So the big buzz of the day is, LL Cool J doesn’t want an interview he did a few years ago to shown on Sarah Palin’s debut special on FOX, “Real American Stories.” 

The promo materials for “Real American Stories” have trumpeted the fact that Sarah Palin would be talking to various people about their struggles to succeed against long odds and personal struggles.  This is exactly the kind of schlocky human interest story stuff one imagines Palin excelling at: the Horatio Alger story updated to modern times. It’s a slow pitch right through the middle of her strike zone.

Much of the coverage of this matter has focused on the political: that LL Cool J is a rapper/actor and presumptive liberal and does not want to be associated with Palin on FOX.  Which may all be well and true, but really misses the point: that Sarah Palin isn’t actually interviewing 2 “guests” on her show at all.  Instead, material LL Cool J and the country music singer Toby Keith taped years ago for other interviews is being “repurposed”—FOX’s phrase—to fit Palin’s show.

This is sampling gone wild.  We have now reached a point in our digital age where one can claim to be doing a newsworthy interview without ever talking to the person you are interviewing.  The next obvious step is to not bother to wait for the interviewees’ answers.  One can simply insert the desired answer in the appropriate place.

Of course, we’ve sort of been doing THAT for years.  But we’ve been doing it on the “fake” news, not the “real” stuff.

Pandora opened a box, and evil came to the world.  We can only hope that now that the threshold between real and fake news appears to have eroded entirely, we are smart enough to recognize the difference.